Premier League managers already looking to the future (Beyond The 90 Minutes)

Steve ClarkeNaturally for this stage of the season a number of Premier League clubs no longer have anything to play for beyond pride. With league position secure some managers may see this as a chance to plan ahead for next season, or the summer transfer window. No doubt the international break would have given clubs the opportunity to assess their goals, their tactical plans and their squads. So as we enter the home straight, here are five managers who may already have one eye on the future… (Read more)

02/02/13 – Arsenal vs Stoke (Premier League)

Arsenal vs Stoke

Two teams desperate for some form with only one league victory between them in 2013. Arsenal will face a completely different challenge to the midweek draw with Liverpool, who pressed intelligently and counter attacked with purpose. They will also be short at left back, with Kieran Gibbs injured, Andre Santos seemingly departing and new signing Nachos Monreal unlikely to be thrown straight in, so Thomas Vermaelen may move across from centre back with Laurent Koscielny coming in. In contrast Stoke face another opponent with a contrasting style of play, but are unlikely to reuse the 3-5-2 system that was implemented against Wigan. Tony Pulis likes his team to be aggressive against the top sides, but their recent record against Arsenal suggests a defensive gameplan aimed at denying the home side space… (Read more)

29/01/13 – Stoke vs Wigan (Premier League)

Stoke vs WiganStoke host Wigan in what is not only a severe clash in playing style but also a classic ‘English’ system against an Italian-inspired 3-5-2. Despite their league position Wigan are a tricky opponent for Stoke, who haven’t won a league meeting between the two in the last six attempts. Stoke’s main strengths are largely neutralised by Wigan – three centre backs provide cover for Crouch’s knock-downs or flick-ons, Gomez ensures there is no numerical advantage in midfield, and wing backs work hard to keep opposing wingers away from danger areas. As is so often the case when discussing 3-5-2 systems, the result is likely to be determined who wins the wing battles… (Read more)

27/01/13 – Should Stoke drop Charlie Adam?

Charlie AdamOn the face of it Stoke’s £4m capture of Charlie Adam in the summer of 2012 appeared a good signing. The Scottish playmaker had moved to Liverpool for nearly twice that amount the previous year having starred for Blackpool with his long range passing and set piece delivery. Such was Adam’s potency that Sir Alex Ferguson remarked that his corners and free kicks alone were worth £10m, and thus the prospect of moving to a club noted for its direct passing and focus on set pieces appeared an excellent match. Yet Adam has struggled to adjust to Stoke’s system, and Stoke have struggled to adapt to Adam… (Read more)

17/08/12 – Stoke 12/13 Season Preview

StokeThe more things change, the more some things stay the same. There is certainly something reassuring about watching Stoke continue to do what they know, whilst all the teams around them attempt to adopt a possession game in the vain hope of mimicking Barcelona and Spain. With Tony Pulis failing to sign a libero or a deep playmaker in the summer months it seems reasonable to suggest that his team will continue playing their direct style. As long as it keeps Stoke comfortably in the Premier League, Pulis will continue to justify his approach in the face of critical opponents, pundits and fans… (Read more)