For most clubs in the English Premier League, earning just one point from their first two matches wouldn’t be considered a success. In fact, for Chelsea, it’s been deemed nothing short of disaster. However, for Stoke City, it’s seen as a decent start, especially given the comeback nature of last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham.
The campaign will undoubtedly become more successful with an easing of the schedule which starts this weekend with a trip to Carrow Road to face newly promoted Norwich City. The big story will certainly be the expected debut of Xherdan Shaqiri for Stoke.
Goalkeeper: Jack Butland
Butland made some nice saves in last weekend’s match against Spurs. There’s no doubt that Butland is Stoke’s number one choice keeper, and should be for some time.
Defense: Erik Pieters, Geoff Cameron, Marc Muniesa, Glen Johnson
Pieters recovered from the knock he suffered against Liverpool in the first match and put together a strong performance against Spurs last weekend.
With Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross still out due to a back injury, Cameron and Muniesa will once again make up the centre back tandem, while Glenn Johnson will join Pieters on the outside
Midfield: Glenn Whelan, Stephen Ireland, Xherdan Shaqiri, Jonathan Walters, Ibrahim Afellay
Shaqiri looks set to debut for the Potters, providing a playmaking spark that has been lacking so far for the Potters. Stephen Ireland was the difference for Stoke last weekend, his substitution provided the impetus for Stoke to go and grab the two goals needed for a crucial draw.
His performance at White Hart Lane should no doubt earn him a starting spot against Norwich. Glenn Whelan has been his typically solid self in the defensive midfield, while Walters and Afellay will look to provide spacing and pace on the outside.
Forward: Mame Biram Diouf
During the second half of last weekend’s match, Diouf shifted to an outside role upon the entrance of the Spaniard Joselu. Expect Diouf to once again start up top, and if the Potters are chasing goals during the second half to move outside to accommodate either Joselu or Peter Crouch up top. Diouf should certainly get an hour up top and perhaps another half an hour on the outside
Prediction: Last weekend’s comeback against Spurs seems to have created a new sense of energy around the Stoke City camp, and the debut of Shaqiri should only add to that enthusiasm. Norwich certainly shouldn’t be overlooked, but Stoke are the favorites in this match. I like Stoke City to defeat Norwich 2-0.
Via – Lineup Builder