Bolton travel to Stoke tomorrow night – but what are they up to these days?
Their season so far
Hilarious, many would say. Having been installed by bookmakers, pundits, and even myself as favourites to make an immediate return to the Premier League, Stoke have had something of a rude awakening to start their first Championship campaign since 2007-08 – currently in the bottom third of the division and having lost at home to two newly promoted teams in Wigan and Blackburn. Why? They’ve got talented players and a decent manager in Gary Rowett, but they seem to have struggled to adapt – maybe the pace of the league is affecting a group of players who have little experience of the division. They have been defensively poor too, only bottom of the table Preston have conceded more goals.
How they might line up
Stoke are usually playing a 4-3-3 at the moment. Jack Butland will be in goal, with Ashley Williams probably partnering Bruno Martins Indi in the centre of defence with Cuco Martina and Erik Pieters in the full-back positions. The midfield looks strong on paper, with Nigerian international Peter Etebo, former Brentford man Ryan Woods and Joe Allen usually preferred, while up front former Wanderer Benik Afobe has four goals this season. James McClean, recovering from a broken arm, could be back and may be joined on the opposite flank by Tom Ince, who has scored in his last two games.