We look at the stats behind why Stoke are struggling to preserve their decade-long stay in the Premier League ahead of their trip to West Ham on Monday, live on Sky Sports.
Having picked up just one win in 2018 – back in January in new boss Paul Lambert’s first game in charge – Stoke facing the very real prospect of Championship football next season for the first time in ten years.
Why have they endured such a decline? The stats highlight where the problems lie…
West Ham vs Stoke
April 16, 2018, 7:00pm
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Throughout the majority of their decade in the Premier League much has been made of Stoke’s home form, with many a title hopeful unable to cut it on a “cold, wet Wednesday night in Stoke”.
Such acclaim is well deserved as, before last season, Stoke enjoyed at least the 11th best home record in the Premier League for five seasons in a row. However, while their away record has never been quite as impressive as their exploits on their own patch, it has never been poor enough to drag them into a sustained relegation battle – until now.
Stoke wins away from home Season Away wins 2013/14 3 2014/15 5 2015/16 6 2016/17 4 2017/18 1
In each of the last three seasons, Stoke have enjoyed the 10th, 11th and 11th best records away from home respectively, with their fewest number of wins on the road coming last campaign, where they picked up four successes.
Away from the bet365 Stadium this season, though, it has been a disaster for Stoke. One solitary victory at Watford in October is all Stoke have to show for their efforts away from Staffordshire. Only bottom club West Brom have a worse record.
Their home record isn’t up to their usual high standards, but on home form alone, they would just stay up, as it stands. Eight points on the road, however, is the main reason they’re staring relegation in the face.
Over-reliance on Shaqiri
When Stoke broke their club record to bring in Switzerland international Xherdan Shaqiri from Inter Milan in 2015, eyebrows were certainly raised throughout the Premier League. How had Stoke pulled off such a coup?
This season, Shaqiri’s status as Stoke’s leading light, even as the Potters have struggled, has become frustrating for the player himself.
“The feeling that even a Ronaldinho could do little in this team is sobering,” Shaqiri said in a revealing interview with Swiss magazine Schweizer Illustrierte last month.
Paul Lambert hopes Stoke will get the result their recent performances have deserved when they visit West Ham on Monday
“Here at Stoke I can not exert too much influence, simply because there is a lack of quality around me.”
Such comments are anything but helpful ahead of the business end of the season, but there is reason behind Shaqiri’s criticism.
Shaqiri has created 67 chances for team-mates this season, 38 more than anyone else in red and white. The fact that only six of these have been turned into assists says a great deal about the finishing at Stoke. Riyad Mahrez has two more assists, from 20 fewer chances created.
Chances create and assists in Premier League this season Player Chances created Assists Kevin De Bruyne 102 15 Mesut Ozil 84 8 Cesc Fabregas 79 4 Christian Eriksen 78 9 Pascal Gross 74 3 Xherdan Shaqiri 67 6 Dele Alli 62 10 David Silva 56 11
The assists have dried up since the end of November, with Shaqiri registering just one in that time – in Stoke’s only win of Paul Lambert’s tenure, against Huddersfield in January.
In fact, in games Shaqiri has either assisted or scored in, Stoke have only lost three times out of 12, compared to 12 out of 19 when he hasn’t contributed to a goal. When Shaqiri doesn’t fire, Stoke are an altogether less daunting proposition.
The Premier League’s leakiest defence
That Britannia-turned-bet365 Stadium reputation of being a place teams didn’t want to visit was built on solid foundations. In 2015/16, Stoke finished with a better goals conceded record than Liverpool and Tottenham. This campaign, however, Stoke have looked anything but impenetrable.
Games lost by 3+ goals in Premier League since start of 2015/16 Team Games lost by 3+ goals Stoke 20 West Ham 15 Bournemouth 14 Swansea 13 Everton 11 Watford 11
Having shipped 63 goals this season already, Stoke have the worst defensive record in the division. Part of the reason for such a tally is that often when Stoke fall behind, they capitulate and the floodgates open.
Eight times this season alone Stoke have lost by three or more goals – no other club has lost by such a margin or higher in 2017/18 on more occasions.
It represents a gradual decline in defensive solidity at Stoke. After conceding just 45 goals in 2014/15, Stoke were then breached 55 times in both the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons, before their poor showing this campaign.
Stoke have been beaten by three or more goals in a Premier League match 20 times since the start of the 2015/16 campaign – five more than any other side in that time.
With England international Jack Butland in goal, behind the omnipresent Ryan Shawcross and Chelsea loanee Kurt Zouma, Stoke have a talented core at their disposal. As a team, however, something is going drastically wrong, and Lambert has his work cut out to figure out how to shore up his backline sooner rather than later.