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Stoke City

Just Over Half Term Report

  With just over half the season played, I thought I’d take a look at how each member of the first team squad has been getting on this season.

Goalkeepers:

29. Thomas Sørensen
Sørensen has made an excellent start to his career at Stoke after signing on a free in July. He looked slightly out of form at the start of the season, which is unsurprising as he hadn’t played for a year, but steadily came into his own and has since earned us vital points by making some fantastic saves, most notably away at Liverpool and Wigan. His exuberant post-match celebrations have made him a firm favourite with Stoke supporters. Verdict: A   

1. Steve Simonsen
First team chances have been hard to come by for Simonsen since the arrival of Sorensen, but he has deputised reasonably well for the injured Sorensen in several Premier League matches this season. He also kept goal throughout our decent League Cup Run. Verdict: B-

Picture of Thomas  Sorensen Picture of Steve Simonsen
Sorensen and Simonsen

Full Backs:

2. Andy Griffin
I expected Griff to struggle with the pace of the Premier League, but he has coped better than I though he would. He still looks too slow and not good enough in the air though. Verdict: B-

3. Danny Higginbotham
Though Higginbotham’s commitment to the cause is unquestionable, he just doesn’t do it as a left back for me. He is far too prone to just hoofing the ball long, which often rubs off on the other members of the team, and does not get forward enough for someone playing in his position. Verdict: C+

28. Andy Wilkinson
Wilko has found himself in the role of first choice right back in recent weeks, and has coped quite well after being out of favour since August. He is incredibly committed in the tackle and deceptively quick, his distribution is poor though, as is his decision making, with rash challenges resulting in numerous bookings and a sending off against Manchester United. Verdict: B

31. Carl Dickinson
Dicko was first choice left back at the start of the season but soon lost his place in the side after the arrival of Higginbotham. He is ever more uncompromising than Wilkinson, but does not yet seem refined enough to perform in the Premier League. At 21 he has time on his side though and may progress into a very good player in the future. He has now gone on loan to Leeds, which will help him mature as a player. Verdict: C+

21. Andrew Davies
The reason why we signed Davies if we don’t intend to play him is lost on me. Granted, he missed the early part of the season through injury, but he has been fit for some time now, yet is left on the bench or out of the squad altogether. From the little we’ve seen, he looks like a tidy player, a more cultured defender than any listed above. Verdict: B

Picture of Andy Griffin Picture of Danny Higginbotham Picture of Andy Wilkinson Picture of Carl Dickinson Picture of Andrew Davies
Griffin, Higginbotham, Wilkinson, Dickinson and Davies

Centre Backs:

25. Abdoulaye Faye
An absolute revelation since signing from Newcastle for a price of £2.25 million that is looking a complete bargain. His strength, aerial ability, surprisingly good skills on the ground and assured manner make him into a fantastic defender and hot favourite for player of the season. He’s been captain in recent weeks as well and has flourished in the role, leading on the pitch and also keeping his teammates in check (he wasn’t captain when Fuller hit Griffin). Verdict: A*

17. Ryan Shawcross
After a far from great performance on the opening day at Bolton, I didn’t think Ryan was ready for the Premier League yet and he was duly dropped, but since regaining his place in the side in October, he has formed an excellent partnership with Abdoulaye Faye, looking every bit the Premier League player. Verdict: A-

33. Ibrahima Sonko
Sonko has been a fringe player since joining from Reading in August and has blown hot and cold when he has played since. He’s played some very good games, Liverpool away and Newcastle being two that spring to mind, but also has some shockers, the cup defeats against Derby and Hartlepool being examples. More consistency is required. Verdict: B-

5. Leon Cort
Much like Sonko, Cort has found himself on the fringes of the first team. When has has played, he’s generally put in slid, yet hardly eye-catching performances. When he does play, we certainly pose more of an aerial threat from set pieces though. Verdict: B

Picture of Abdoulaye Faye Picture of Ryan Shawcross Picture of Ibrahima Sonko Picture of Leon Cort
Faye, Shawcross, Sonko and Cort

Wingers:

24. Rory Delap
His long throws have been a fantastic weapon for us this year, but even without them, Rory has done well, usually playing on the wing, he still gets well stuck into the game and his crossing has definitely improved this season. His goal at Chelsea yesterday was also extremely well taken. Verdict: A-

7. Liam Lawrence
Despite being player of the season last year, and scoring fifteen goals, Lawrence made a surprisingly poor start to life in the Premier League, struggling to find the form he showed in the Championship. An injury followed in early October that kept him out until just recently. He doesn’t yet look match fit though. Verdict: C+

26. Matthew Etherington
Though he’s only been at the club for two weeks, Etherington has made a very good start to his Stoke career with impressive performances against tough opposition in Liverpool and Chelsea. With his pace and crossing ability, he looks to be the answer to our left wing problems. Verdict: A-

8. Tom Soares
Soares made a very impressive debut against Tottenham in October, earning stoke two penalties, but he has failed to live up to that promise since, and has been used sparingly. He has now gone on loan to Charlton to gain some experience of a relegation fight at a lower level. Verdict: B-

23. Michael Tonge
Tonge is a player who in my opinion should be used for often. He has shown in his limited number of appearances that he is a classy player, a good passer and good with the ball at his feet. I imagine he has been pushed further down the pecking order with the arrival of Etherington though. Verdict: B

Picture of Rory Delap Picture of Liam Lawrence Picture of Matthew Etherington Picture of Tom Soares Picture of Michael Tonge
Delap, Lawrence, Etherington (ruining my colour scheme), Soares and Tonge

Centre Midfielders:

18. Salif Diao:
Diao has looked very good this season, he has a calm and assured manner that seems to help the players he lines up alongside. He is also a good tackler and good in the air. The one criticism I would make is that he doesn’t get forward to help the attack as much as a centre midfielder ideally would. Verdict: B+

19. Amdy Faye
Diao’s Senegalese compatriot Faye does not get the recognition i believe he deserves. He is an extremely strong tackler and is also very committed to the team. He too does not attack well enough for my liking though.
Verdict: B

6. Glenn Whelan
Irish international Whelan was frozen out of the squad after reacting badly to being substituted at Bolton on the opening day, but found himself back in the first team picture after the injuries suffered by Diao in the last six weeks. He has since been mediocre. He does get forward better than either of Diao or Faye, but he doesn’t protect the defence anything like as well. Verdict: B-

4. Seyi Olofinjana
Olofinjana made a bright start to his Stoke career with some good early performances and goals against Everton and Arsenal. He has been off form in the last couple of months though, and seems to have dropped well down the midfield pecking order. Verdict: B-

14. Danny Pugh
For a long time the forgotten man of Stoke City, Pugh was thrust back into the first team setup in early December and has been used both on the wing and in the centre since. Wherever he has played, he has been quite impressive, he is a good passer and deceptively strong. Verdict: B

Picture of Salif Diao Picture of Amdy Faye Picture of Glenn Whelan Picture of Seyi Olofinjana Picture of Danny Pugh
Diao, Faye, Whelan, Olofinjana and Pugh

Forwards:

10. Ricardo Fuller
The Jamaican made an excellent start to the season, scoring in the first two games against Bolton and Aston Villa and soon added four more in the autumn, making him the club’s top scorer with six. His form has been very poor since then though, with the exception of half an hour at Newcastle in which he changed the game. He has suffered while usual strike partner Mamady Sidibe has been out injured and seems to have been in one big strop for a month and a half against opponents, referees and even teammates, culminating with his inexcusable slap to the face of Andy Griffin in late December. Verdict: B+

11. Mamady Sidibe:
Mama has adapted well to life in the Premier League and has already matches his goal tally from last season. He has scored some vital strikes including the winners against Aston Villa and West Brom. The team really seems to have suffered while he has been out injured for the last month. Fortunately, he should be back in the next couple of weeks. Verdict: A-

12. Dave Kitson
Kitson has completely failed to live up to his £5.5 million transfer fee, failing to score once for Stoke. He doesn’t seem to fit in with our way of playing at all. He has had better games of late though, and may be able to achieve better results playing off new signing James Beattie. Verdict: C

9. Richard Cresswell
Cresswell is a tryer who always gives everything he has, but he is simply no longer good enough for the Premier League. He is too slow and nothing like aware of what is going on around him. Verdict: C

15. Vincent Pericard
Pericard has played little in the league this season and when he has played he has struggled to make an impact. He doesn’t look sharp enough and has failed to hit the target when he has had chances. He did have a few good games in the Carling Cup though. Verdict: B-

20. James Beattie
The newest addition to the Stoke squad, Beattie made his debut yesterday at Chelsea, where he had a good game against a very good side. His assist for Delap’s goal was top quality. More of the same from him would be excellent. Verdict: A

Picture of Ricardo Fuller Picture of Mamady Sidibe Picture of Dave Kitson Picture of Richard Cresswell Picture of Vincent Pericard Picture of James Beattie
Fuller, Sidibe, Kitson, Cresswell, Pericard and Beattie

 



 


 
 
 

 

 


               

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