2015/16 season preview: Stoke City

460px-Stoke_City_FC.svgMark Hughes has guided Stoke to consecutive top ten finishes and as he enters a third season at the Britannia Stadium, can he take Stoke to even further heights and bag European football?

Manager: Mark Hughes
Home ground: Britannia Stadium
Last season: 9th
Highest EPL accolade: 9th (2014, 2015)

Star Man

Charlie Adam's 65 yard strike vs Chelsea won goal of the season image: theguardian.com

Charlie Adam’s 65 yard strike vs Chelsea won goal of the season
image: theguardian.com

Charlie Adam proved to be one of Stoke’s star players last season as the former Blackpool man helped Stoke to a consecutive 9th place finish. Stoke will hope the Scot can continue on from his impressive campaign and one again lead the Potters to a top ten finish.

The 29-year-old contributed seven goals in 29 appearances for Mark Hughes’ side last season and who can forget that goal from inside his own half against Chelsea. Adam scored some top and vital goals for Stoke and fans will hope for many more eye-catching strikes this campaign.

Adam brings plenty of experience to the Stoke midfield after spells with Rangers, Blackpool and Liverpool but Stoke seem to be getting the best out of the midfielder who enjoyed his finest seasons in a Stoke shirt and if he continues to run the Stoke midfield, there is no reason why Stoke can’t achieve another top-half finish.

Key Transfers

IN
Philipp Wollscheid (Bayer Leverkusen – Undisclosed), Jacob Haugaard (Midtjylland – Free), Joselu (Hannover – £5.75m), Shay Given (Aston Villa – Free), Marco van Ginkel (Chelsea – Season loan), Glen Johnson (Liverpool – Free), Moha El Ouriachi (Barcelona – Undisclosed), Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona – Free)

OUT
Steven N’zonzi (Sevilla – £7m), Asmir Begovic (Chelsea – £8m), Robert Huth (Leicester – Undisclosed), Jamie Ness (Scunthorpe – Free), Thomas Sorensen, Wilson Palacios (all released)

One to Watch

In a Stoke team that has plenty of experience with the likes of Jonathan Walters, Ryan Shawcross and Adam, Marco van Ginkel will hope to learn from his peers at Stoke as the Dutchman looks to earn a place in the Potters first-team and show he can become one of the league’s brightest young stars.

Marco van Ginkel spent last season on loan at AC Milan image: theguardian.com

Marco van Ginkel spent last season on loan at AC Milan
image: theguardian.com

The 22-year-old joined the Potters on loan from Chelsea over the summer as he looks to make a case to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho that he will have a role to play in Chelsea’s future. The spent last season on loan at AC Milan where he made 17 appearances in an injury-ragged season.

He did make an impact towards the end of the season scoring his first goal in a 2-1 win over Roma. I believe this Dutchman is one to watch this season and if he avoids injury, he could prove to be one of the surprise stars of the season.

Best XI

Butland

Johnson   Shawcross   Wollscheid   Pieters

Adam   van Ginkel

Arnautovic      Afellay        Walters

  Bojan

Prediction: 8th

There is no doubt that Mark Hughes has done a fantastic job guiding Stoke to their first ever top ten finish in his first season in charge and then duplicated that success last year. There is no doubt Stoke can do even better this year.

Stoke look to finish in the top ten for the third straight year image: mirror.co.uk

Stoke look to finish in the top ten for the third straight year
image: mirror.co.uk

I really like this Stoke team and I think Stoke have done a good job in the transfer market and in particular, the signings of Ibrahim Afellay and Glen Johnson could have a real impact on this team. They may have lost Asmir Begovic to Chelsea, but I believe Jack Butland has what it takes to fill the Bosnian’s boots.

What could let them down is their midfield. Steven N’zonzi has left for Sevilla and while van Ginkel could prove to play a key part in Stoke’s season, I do feel they need to but another midfielder to improve their options. Stoke are well capable of finishing in the top-half again and I reckon will go one better than last season.

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