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Stoke City: 2010 Team Preview | Odds

English Premier League – Stoke City City 2010 Preview

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Odds to win the 2010-11 Premiership outright: 1500/1

Manager Tony Pulis guided his Potters through their second straight top-flight season and despite scoring the second least goals in the entire Premier League, concluded the year with a solid mid-table 11th place finish.

Stoke City were able to produce some winning results away (4-8-7) from Britannia Stadium in 2009 helping in the effort to escalate their standing in the league, but it was their record at home (7-6-6) that shot the Potters into a near top 10 finish. The squad equaled several foes to achieve points against the likes of Everton (twice), Liverpool, Manchester City, and Aston Villa.

Midfielder Matthew Etherington was Stoke’s leading goal scorer netting five of the squads 34 regular season goals. The side finished the 2009 campaign with a –14 goal differential. If the Potters want a quality shot at finishing higher up in 2010, they will need to produce more offense.

Turkish forward Tuncay Sanli (4G, 2A) along with three-goal scorers forward James Beattie, Dave Kitson and Ricardo Fuller, will all need to turn it up if they want to compete with the likes of top table teams that are netting 80-plus strikes.

The backline seems solid having finished 10th best conceding 48 goals. Defender Robert Huth anchors the line and is a player that likes to jump up into the attack. The German sentry produced three goals on the season with a third best 32 shots taken. The aggressive Abdoulaye Faye (2 G) who ranked third in the league picking up two red cards aids him. Bet on Soccer at Sportsbook.com

Stokes’ aggressive style placed them 4th with 80 disciplinary points with 65 cautions and five reds.

The Potters made no significant additions during the transfer season with exception of landing Portsmouth starlet Florent Cuvelier and veteran Everton back up keeper Carlo Nash .

The 17-year-old Cuvelier has agreed a two-year deal at the Britannia Stadium and will begin pushing into the first-team squad over the next season. The Belgium midfielder could bring some much needed ball control to the center of the field and will be groomed to into Pulis’ long ball game, putting men behind the ball making them harder to break down.

Nash was in interesting acquisition. The 36-year old spent the past two seasons as a reserve goalkeeper to Tim Howard in Everton, but has some familiarity with the Potters as he was loaned out to the club on an emergency deal in March 2008 following second-string keeper Marton Fulop’s recall to Sunderland. Now he will return to Stoke to with a one-year contract.

Nash has served stints with Manchester City, Wigan and set a club record of 24 clean sheets with Preston FC of the Champions during the 2005–06 season. Even though Pulis has stressed that first-choice keeper Dane Sorensen, who is still on leave after his involvement in the World Cup, will retain the number one spot.

He will have pressure with Nash waiting in the wings.

Stoke City City 2010 Prediction: As Pulis’ men prepare for their third season in the Premier League; the side has reached a fundamental stage in the club’s significant rise. No longer will they be able to rely on a scrappy squad able to rough up opponents no matter how famous the names in their lineup.

They will now need to establish a more tactical strategy to continue their upward motion. The Potters will also need to win more on the road if they want to crack the top 10 in 2010.

I expect a 14-place finish.

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Matt Martz is a sportswriter for the Bakersfield Californian located in Central California. “ Football (soccer) is a game in which a handful of fit men run around for one and a half hours watched by millions of people who could really use the exercise.”

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