We’ve been waiting a while for this, hope it’s worth it.
The new season is here once again, let’s hope it’s not more of the same.
Stoke kick off versus Reading after one of the more successful transfer windows in recent times.
The ins have not been priority but the players leaving the club have been. Stoke at last have removed a massive lump off our wage bill, and that’s not just Vokes.
Stoke have managed to sell, loan and plead for 14 players to leave the club this summer. Nathan Collins was probably the only one the club didn’t want to move on, but his £12mill move to Burnley gave us the cash to get rid of 11 of the other 14 players who were on massive wages.
The best deals for the club were the mutual termination of the contracts of Wimmer & Bauer who’s combined wage for the season would of been close to £3.5mill. The other great deal was selling Vokes to Wycombe, though the club would no doubt would of had to compensate Sam’s loss in wages similar to what Sunderland did when Stoke signed Kenwyne Jones.
In Pre Season Michael O’Neill has bloody some of the academy prospects, of which the club has many very close to giving O’Neill a headache come home selecting his starting XI versus Reading. Saying that I can’t see many inexperienced players making their debut against Reading at least not as a starter.
Stoke’s goalkeeper selection will be as difficult as ever with Adam Davies & Josef Bursik both battling it out for the number 1 shirt, with summer recruit Jack Bonham also having a say.
Defence again despite our great record last season has its questions on paper for the Reading game especially with Harry Souttar playing for Australia in the Olympics and missing all of the clubs pre season build up. New signing Ben Wilmot has shown in pre season why the Watford fans were miffed he was sold, he’s shown all the composure and athleticism we’ve missed at the back. O’Neill also gave Wilmot the added role of pushing out of the back 3 into the defensive midfield role when Stoke were in possession, thus allowing both Nick Powell & Mario Vrancic to get forward at the same time
O’Neill has tried 3-5-2 & 4-3-3 in pre season during the games and with the current squad I think 3-5-2 suits them better
Joe Allen has been named the permanent successor to Ryan Shawcross and will Captain the side. This assures his inclusion in the starting XI, leaving two midfield roles to fight it out. Nick Powell & Mario Vrancic should start over the likes of Thompson or Clucas but does mean we are very attack minded, so the club really do need to bring in a defensive midfielder to give the squad a bit more balance.
Upfront we are still a player short especially at the start of the season with Tyrese Campbell still not taking part in full training as he recovers from his knee injury. Sam Vokes has left which based on his contribution last season will be no loss really leaving just Steven Fletcher, Jacob Brown and new signing Sam Surridge to battle it out for the two starting slots in O’Neill’s 3-5-2 system .
Onto the game versus Reading
Stoke are unbeaten in the last ten fixtures against Reading though Stoke have only won 3 of those fixture. A betting person would cover the draw on this game.
Despite the unbeaten run this fixture over the history has been pretty even with Stoke winning 19, losing 17 and drawing 18 of the games.
Reading last season started the season on fire and looked like they could be the team to beat to get promotion the the Premier League. The very least Reading expected to have made the play offs but a run of one win in the last 10 games plummeted them down the league finishing 7th just out side the play off spots.
The last three times Reading have visited the bet365 stadium the game has ended 0-0
What are the chances of seeing no goals again.?