Premier League Relegation Race: Why Stoke City Are Going Down
Stoke City have five games left to try and preserve their Premier League status.
The Potters have been in the top flight since the 2008-09 season, but time is starting to run out on their five-year stay.
The gap to the relegation zone is only three points and, with escape-artists Wigan having two games in hand, Stoke know unless they turn their form around, a return to the championship beckons.
The relegation race usually involves a side that drops down into contention from a position of apparent safety.
It happened to Birmingham City in 2011 and Newcastle in 2009.
In 2012-13, it looks like it will be Stoke City.
Here are the reasons why.
Their Form Has Collapsed, Especially at Home
Statistics can lie sometimes. In Stoke City's case, though, they scream the truth.
They make horrible reading for any fan who may still harbour the hope that they can avoid getting embroiled in the end-of-season scrap to stay in the Premier League.
- Stoke have lost six of their last seven games and have two wins from their last 17 (via stats.football365.co.uk).
- No team has won fewer points in 2013 than Stoke's five (via soccerbase.com).
- Their home form, traditionally good, has been wretched with one win in eight at the Britannia Stadium. Their 2-1 defeat to Manchester United means they have picked up one point from their last four at home.
- They are the lowest scorers in the Premier League with 28 goals.
It's grim tale. Stoke are grabbing relegation by the scruff of its neck.
Key Players Like Peter Crouch Have Gone Missing This Season
Stoke have never been prolific scorers, but they've usually had a man who has led the line with distinction.
Last season it was Peter Crouch.
The stretchy striker scored 14 goals during the last campaign, with 10 of them in the Premier League.
This time around, the ex-Spurs man has found the net six times, five or those coming in the league (via soccerbase.com).
The difference between the two, though, is Crouch is getting way far fewer shots than the Villa striker.
That suggests he's becoming a bit one dimensional. He is winning the headers but posing much less of a threat in and around the penalty area (via Whoscored.com).
Tony Pulis Is a Busted Flush
Manager Tony Pulis has had to put up with a lot of stick about the direct, physical and robust way he gets Stoke City to play.
Up to this point, it has been an effective approach which has enabled the Potters to finish 12th, 11th, 13th and 14th since they got into the Premier League in 2008.
No one liked playing them.
But now, the tune needs changing.
Adam, with one assist, has not managed to infuse the side with his creativity and, on the pitch at least, it seems like Stoke's approach hasn't altered.
Time is running out and, to make matters worse, the home crowd is growing restless.
It seems Stoke can only play one way under Pulis and that way is no longer effective. Look at the table.
Stoke's 23 crosses and 10 shots per game this season illustrates their shortcomings as an attacking unit (via Whoscored.com).
They remain committed when they don't have possession, but their number of yellow cards (64) is the second-highest in the division while the number of fouls conceded per match (13) is the highest (via Whoscored.com).
All of this suggests heaping a whole lot of self-induced pressure and not much relief.
They Don't Look Like Winning Another Point This Season
Given Stoke's awful current form, something has to change very quickly if they are to avoid getting relegated.
They have five games to go and head coach Tony Pulis knows his side has to find an extra gear from somewhere.
Where Stoke finds this fight from is anyone's guess.
The answer is simple: They can't.