I have taken a look back over the past seven seasons to find out who Stoke’s most creative players have been in the Premier League.
Has Stoke’s style under Hughes really made us more creative or was Tony Pulis’ ‘get the ball into the box quick and win the percentage balls’ style more effective?
2009/10- Final position 11th. Ricardo Fuller top scorer (8).
Most creative players (goal scoring chances): Etherington (68), Delap (42), Whelan (25).
2010/11- Final position 13th. Kenwyne Jones top scorer (9).
Most creative players: Etherington (71), Pennant (53), Delap (41).
2011/12- Final position 14th. Peter Crouch top scorer (10).
Most creative players: Etherington (50), Pennant (43), Walters (35).
2012/13- Final position 13th. Jon Walters top scorer (8).
Most creative players: Whelan (40), Adam, Walters (34)
Mark Hughes took over the reigns over in May 2013.
2013/14- Final position 9th. Peter Crouch top scorer (8).
Most creative players: Arnautovic (48) Adam, Crouch, Nzonzi (33).
2014/15- Final position 9th. Mame Diouf (11).
Most creative players: Arnautovic (42), Nzonzi (34), Adam (33).
So, onto the season just gone, when inconstancy and injuries affected the campaign, but the club still managed once again to finish ninth in the league. The top league goal scorer was Marko Arnautovic with 11 goals.
For the third season in a row Arnautovic topped the chances created column, creating 50 goal scoring opportunities. But he was joined by summer signing Xherdan Shaqiri, who also managed to create 50 chances.
Next on the list was Bojan with 26 and then Glenn Whelan with 25. It’s interesting that Whelan gets a lot of stick from some quarters about his lack of forward passes, but judging by these stats the Irishman plays the right ball at the right time.
In three of the seven seasons Whelan has been in the top four for chances created and even topped Stoke’s list in the 2012/13 season.
So, back to the original question about creativity and styles.
Both styles set out by the managers are totally different, so it’s a difficult one.
Pulis enjoyed the percentage ball, which meant there was less chance of scoring from the balls- whereas Hughes’ more measured approach generally results in better success from chances created.
What’s the best approach? That’s a whole different can of worms…
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