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Welcome to TEAMtalk's Stoke City Your Say forum - the place to be for positive Potters!
I wrote about dropped points after the win at Tottenham before the international break, and unfortunately we were left to rue yet another missed opportunity at the Britannia on Saturday as Burnley claimed all three points.
There were some mitigating circumstances with Marc Wilson and Eric Pieters out injured, but arguably an even bigger concern than the two cheap goals conceded was the familiar failure to turn utter dominance of possession into meaningful opportunities.
When you lose one game you dominate in that way, you can perhaps put it down to 'one of those days'. Even after losing two you might be tempted to blame bad luck, but after losing a third home game to supposedly inferior opponents there can now be no doubt that Mark Hughes is getting his tactics wrong.
Stoke look fantastic against more dominant opponents, with many of the players used to that sort of backs-to-the-wall defending, and the likes of Victor Moses, Mame Diouf and more recently Bojan proving adept at causing problems on the counter-attack.
Against massed defences, however, Stoke perhaps lack the quality to break through via quick, incisive passing in tight central areas so instead rely on shots from distance and, especially, crosses into the box.
Unfortunately there are too few players in the team with a goalscoring touch - and nobody that can be relied on to consistently find the right areas with deliveries from wide areas.
The delivery from set-pieces, meanwhile, is an absolute disgrace. A team of Stoke's size should be scoring regularly from corners and free-kicks yet they have rarely done so since Hughes took charge. And to make matters worse, they regularly concede in these situations.
Overall there has been a net gain in goals under Hughes, but it's so frustrating to wonder how many more could be scored if he and his coaches spent more time working on an area of the game that the players at their disposal have the potential to excel at.
In games like Saturday's against Burnley, with space to create chances from open play at a bare minimum, set-pieces can win you the game. Yet Stoke had 14 corners on Saturday and did not create a chance of note from any of them. When you see your full-backs and, even worse, your tall centre-half, taking corners, you know there is a problem that needs addressing.
These dropped points at HQ now put Stoke under enormous pressure to continue their good form against the top teams in what on paper looks like a nightmare run of fixtures up until New Year.
Bizarrely, though, it is hard not to feel a fair amount of optimism going into the first game of that run against an out-of-form Liverpool.
Still without Daniel Sturridge, low on confidence and going into the game on the back of a Champions League away tie they need to win, Liverpool are definitely there for the taking.
It's a fairly frustrating time to be a Stoke fan - but also a hugely exciting one! Let's hope for more excitement than frustration over the next few weeks.
red2red (): "I'm just an ever growning fan of David De Gea - breath of fresh air. I love my football from scratch..."
ginolashair (): "When you spend 100m on players you'd be expecting to win the league. B.Rodgers 27.04.14"
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