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TEAMtalk Your Say

From the Editor:

Welcome to TEAMtalk's Stoke City Your Say forum - the place to be for positive Potters!

It's still too early to pay any real attention to the league table but there's little doubt that everybody associated with Stoke would have hoped for and probably expected more than eight points after seven games of the season.

Home defeats to Aston Villa and Leicester were the real shock results but, after getting up and running at HQ with a 1-0 win over Newcastle, there was good reason to be optimistic ahead of the trip to Sunderland.

As it turns out, Stoke produced arguably their worst performance of the campaign so far. The absence of Mame Diouf didn't help (especially given Marko Arnautovic's display), and the early injury picked up by Victor Moses certainly didn't, but that still doesn't excuse what was collectively a very poor showing.

The defending was poor for all three Sunderland goals, and the passing, crossing and decision-making in key areas was equally as bad. Despite again dominating possession, there's no doubt that Stoke got exactly what they deserved - nothing.

There is plenty of time to put things right, but the concern is that these same problems have existed for quite some time yet look no closer to being resolved.

The weakness in defending crosses and set-pieces is a problem that certainly should have been addressed by now given the team's height and previous strength in that area, but the reliance on one or two players to turn games at the other end is just as big a concern.

Had Moses stayed on at the Stadium of Light, it may well have been a different game. Diouf and/or Peter Odemwingie would undoubtedly have made a difference, too, but it is dangerous to rely solely on speed to unlock defences.

With the likes of Bojan and Stephen Ireland in the squad, Stoke should be finding it easier than they are to create chances through incisive passing - and Hughes needs to get the bottom of why the team has been unable to do that so far this season.

With two weeks until the next game against Swansea, let's hope there is plenty of work planned on the training ground to resolve these problems otherwise inconsistency could well be the buzzword at the Brit this season.


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