Stoke City: Early season report - Steady as she goes
There is very little to choose between Stoke City's current position in the Premier League table and their status at the same point in 2011. Superficially Stoke are worse off in 12th after seven games this season compared to 8th in 2011 but they only have one point fewer.
In 2011 the Potters had lost two games, but had won two of their first seven. In the current campaign Tony Pulis's squad have been beaten just once, but five of their games have ended all square.
Ironically, at this point in 2011 Stoke's goal difference looked very ropey - just four netted and eight conceded. This year they actually have a plus difference - six scored and five conceded - but it has delivered them one less point.
The general principles haven't changed. Stoke aren't a side likely to score a bagful of goals (except in FA Cup semi-finals) but equally they are very tough to break down. Though Pulis has expanded somewhat on the no-frills football employed in their first Premier League season, this is still a blue collar football team based around the virtues of hard graft, organisation and commitment.
The big difference to last season is that Stoke aren't playing in Europe. This time last season they were embarked on an adventurous Europa League campaign; in 2012 the Potters don't have that distraction, though to the club's credit they didn't treat the European experience as an inconvenience.
On this form Stoke City should be looking at another decent finish come May.
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