Meet the opposition: Stoke City

17th September 2018
First team

​​​​​​​As Swansea City get set to take on Stoke City on Tuesday night (8pm), we take a closer look at the men from the bet365 Stadium.

What’s their story?

Like the Swans, Stoke are getting used to life back in the second tier having suffered relegation from the Premier League in May.

The Potters enjoyed a 10-year stint as a top-flight club having won promotion under Tony Pulis in 2008. Before that, they had not played in the highest division since 1985.

Their best efforts in the Premier League were three successive ninth-place finishes, while Stoke also reached the 2011 FA Cup final – which meant a taste of the Europa League.

Arguably Stoke’s finest hour came in 1972, when they won the League Cup.

Right now the focus is the league, though, and on trying to make an immediate return to the top division, with the club splashing the cash on their playing squad over the summer.

 

How’s their form?

Stoke began the new Championship season as favourites to win promotion, but they have had a mixed start to 2018-19.

With a number of notable summer signings settling in, though, there is surely better to come from Stoke’s impressive squad.

The campaign began with a resounding defeat at Leeds, and Stoke have also lost to Wigan – by 3-0 at home – and West Brom.

They drew at home against Brentford and also claimed a point at Preston, with their solitary league win thus far coming against Hull.

They impressed in their weekend 2-2 draw at Sheffield Wednesday, although there was frustration that they let a two-goal lead slip. 

 

Who’s their boss?

Gary Rowett. The former Burton and Birmingham manager left Derby County in the summer in order to take charge at Stoke, who said farewell to Paul Lambert following relegation last season.

Ex-defender Rowett played for the likes of Everton, Derby, Birmingham and Leicester.

He finished his playing career at Burton before moving into the dugout at the Pirelli Stadium, initially as Paul Peschisolido’s assistant and then as the main man.

He twice led the Brewers to the League Two play-off final before leaving for Birmingham, where he appeared to be doing a fine job before being surprisingly axed.

Rowett then steered Derby to last season’s Championship play-offs before making the move to the Potteries.

 

Who are the key men?

Stoke have an England international in goal in the shape of Jack Butland, while former Swan Ashley Williams and long-serving skipper Ryan Shawcross are among Rowett’s options in an experience rearguard.

Joe Allen is a key man in midfield, where he could be joined by summer recruits Ryan Woods and Peter Etebo – a Nigerian international who impressed at the World Cup – or veteran Darren Fletcher.

Sam Clucas, who arrived from the Swans in the summer, is yet to feature having had a close-season knee operation.

Further forward, Tom Ince, James McClean and Benik Afobe were notable summer signings, while Bojan, veteran Peter Crouch and Saido Berahino – who finally ended his long goal drought recently – are also in the mix to face the Swans.