The Potters 2016/17 season was very underwhelming, and they couldn’t improve on three successive 9th placed finishes.
Let’s take a look at how the season unfolded.
Summer Transfer Business
In the summer Mark Hughes was not shy to spend the cash. His first piece of business was acquiring the services of the “ Welsh Pirlo” Joe Allen for 13 Million who went on to have a successful first season with Stoke. On the same day, Mark Hughes brought in Ramadan Sobhi from Al Ahly for 5 Million pounds. Sobhi went on to play 17 times for Stoke in the league. After Stoke signed Ryan Sweeney from AFC Wimbledon they went a bit quiet in the market until deadline day which saw them bring in three new faces on loan.
The first was Wilfred Bony from Manchester City, after he was told he wasn’t part of new boss Pep Guardiola’s plans. City also brought in Lee Grant on loan from Derby after the injury to shot stopper Jack Butland. The last player the Potters were able to get in on loan was Netherlands international Bruno Martins Indi from Porto.
Furthermore, Stoke loaned out the duo of Joselu and Wollscheid to Deportivo La Coruna and VfL Wolfsburg respectively.
A horrific start
Stoke had an atrocious start to the Premier League season with the Potters only picking up two points from from their first seven games.
They kicked off the season with an away game at newly promoted Middlesbrough. Stoke made a poor start to the match, with new Boro signing Negrado scoring after 11 minutes. City were lucky to be going into the half-time interval 1-0 down, as on the stroke of half-time Gaston Ramirez hit the post. Stoke improved in the second half and got a point, after Xherdan Shaqiri scored with a beautiful free kick which went into the bottom corner.
Stoke then suffered losses to Man City and Everton which meant THe Potters were winless in August.
September was another poor month for Mark Hughes and his men with Stoke picking up 1 point from a possible 9. September also saw Stoke go out of the EFL Cup, after they were knocked out by Hull City. September started off by the Potters welcoming unbeaten Tottenham to the Bet365 Stadium. After the gaffer Mark Hughes was sent to the stands, Stoke crumbled and were embarrassed 4-0 by Spurs. Stoke then travelled to Crystal Palace however, they couldn’t find a win there as they suffered a damaging 4-1 loss with Stoke’s only goal coming in injury time from Marko Arnautovic.
Stoke welcomed back old manager Tony Pulis to the Bet365 Stadium. Stoke took the lead against West Brom after 73 minutes with Joe Allen scoring his first goal for the club. However, a mix up between Lee Grant and Bruno Martins Indi saw Stoke give away a late corner. The corner was headed in by Baggies dangerman Salomon Rondon.
With Stoke still searching for their first win in the Premier League they would’ve been licking their lips at some of the fixtures in October. However, October started off with Stoke going away to Manchester United. Stoke were reliant on their goalkeeper Lee Grant for most of the game, until he was finally beaten by Martial on 69 minutes. Joe Allen scored for the second match running to earn Stoke’s first point at Old Trafford since 1980.
Stoke then won their next three games beating: Sunderland, Hull and Swansea. The Swansea game saw Bony get off the mark for Stoke after he bagged a brace in a convincing 3-1 win.
November was a mixed bag for Stoke. The first game of November was a trip to the new London Stadium. West Ham took the lead after Antonio’s header took a deflection off Glen Whelan. Stoke earned a point after a mistake from Adrian allowed Bojan to slot home. After the international break, Stoke took on Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth at home. The Cherries dominated proceedings and deservedly went ahead from a Nathan Ake header. The Potters could’ve rescued a point but Bojan missed a penalty. The last game of November saw Stoke go to Vicarage Road. Mark Hughes made 5 changes from the side which lost to Bournemouth. A Charlie Adam header was enough for Stoke to get all three points.
December sprung up some difficult fixtures for Stoke which saw them come up against the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal. However, their first game was at home against a struggling Burnley side. Stoke controlled the match and won 2-0 thanks to goals from Jonathan Walters and Marc Muniesa.
The Potters then played away at Arsenal on the 10th of December. Stoke to a surprising lead from the penalty spot after Joe Allen had been fouled by Xhaka. However, goals from Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Iwobi condemned Stoke to a ninth-straight defeat at the Emirates Stadium. Next up was Southampton. An early sending off for Arnautovic saw Stoke defend for most of the game, which payed off as Stoke managed to grind out a draw. Stoke then drew at home to Leicester after being 2-0 up. After the Leicester game Stoke travelled to Anfield. Once again The Potters took an early lead through Jonathan Walters however, goals from: Lallana, Firmino and Sturridge condemned Stoke to another defeat at Anfield. Stoke’s last game of 2016 saw them come up against leaders Chelsea. After pegging back the leaders twice it looked like Stoke may have got a point however, goals from Willian and Diego Costa sealed a 4-2 win for Chelsea.
New Year, New Signings
January started off with Stoke welcoming Watford to The Bet365 Stadium. Mark Hughes started more experienced players in this game and it worked with goals from Ryan Shawcross and Peter Crouch sealing a 2-0 win for Stoke.
A day later Stoke signed Lee Grant permanently from Derby after impressing during his loan spell.
Following their FA Cup exit at the hands of Wolves, Stoke were eager to bounce back with a win at struggling Sunderland. Stoke took the lead through Arnautovic who beat Mannone to the ball. City made it 2-0 thanks to Arnautovic again and it got better for Stoke as Crouch headed past a hesitant Mannone. Defoe pulled one back but Stoke hanged on for the 3-1 win at the Stadium of Light.
On the 20th of January Stoke splashed out 12 million on West Brom striker Saido Berahino as players like Bony were not scoring. Stoke’s final game in January came up against Man United. Stoke took the lead after Erik Pieters cross was deflected in by Juan Mata. Stoke maintained their lead until injury time, but a Wayne Rooney free kick earned a point for United.
January also saw Stoke loan out Bojan to Mainz 05.
Stoke’s February began at home against Everton. Crouch scored his 100th Premier League goal after being set up by Arnautovic. Everton equaliser came from a Ryan Shawcross own goal. This game also saw Saido Berahino get his debut for Stoke. Next up for The Potters was a relatively short trip to West Brom where they suffered a 1-0 loss after an early James Morrison goal. Stoke then came up against Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace. The game was a boring one, but a goal from Joe Allen secured all three points for Stoke. The Potters then had a two week wait until they faced Tottenham away. However, Stoke put on a lackluster performance and succumbed to a 4-0 loss.
March started off with a home game against Middlesbrough. Stoke were in control for the whole match and an Arnautovic brace secured all three points for The Potters. 4 days later Stoke went away to Man City. Stoke put in a disciplined defensive performance and managed to get a goalless draw out of it. This was the first time a team had prevented Man City from scoring at home. Stoke’s final game in March saw them host leaders Chelsea. Stoke put in a spirited performance but Chelsea ran out 2-1 winners.
Stoke’s first game in April was away at a rejuvenated Leicester team. Stoke put in another lackluster performance and they lost 2-0 with goals coming from Ndidi and Jamie Vardy. Stoke then travelled to Turf Moor on the 4th of April. It was another poor performance and a second half strike from George Boyd was the difference. Stoke then suffered a 4th straight defeat after losing 2-1 to Liverpool. Stoke ended their poor run of form by winning 3-1 against relegation threatened Hull City. Goals from Arnautovic, Crouch and Shaqiri won them the game. Stoke then came up against another relegation threatened team however, Swansea brushed Stoke aside by winning 2-0. Stoke rounded off April by playing out a 0-0 draw at home to West Ham.
May saw Stoke come up against: Bournemouth, Arsenal and Southampton.
First Stoke travelled to the Vitality stadium. An own goal from Mousset and a goal from Diouf made sure Stoke earned a hard-fought 2-2 draw. Six days later Stoke went away to Arsenal and continued their poor form against teams in the top six by losing 4-1. Stoke’s only goal came from target man Peter Crouch. Stoke rounded of a poor season by beating Claude Puel’s Southampton 1-0 with Crouch scoring again.
The 2016-17 season was a poor one for Stoke. Their strikers were not firing and apart from West Brom and the three relegated teams, Stoke had the least amount of shots.
Defensive frailties also costed Stoke in valuable games and despite having a poor season Mark Hughes still states that the fans are still behind him.