Three reasons behind the poor form of Stoke this season

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes

While the Premier League is famous for its unpredictably, one of the certainties was that you would always get a hard game from Stoke.

Stoke City won wide praise for the way they transitioned from the long-ball and set piece era of Tony Pulis to the one-touch fluid football that Mark Hughes brought to the Potteries while still being able to keep a hard edge.

That has seemingly changed overnight as Stoke shipped four goals for the third time this season, going down 4-1 to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

They currently sit rock bottom of the table with one point after five games.

It is their worst start to a season since winning promotion in 2008 and their hopes of another top ten finish look a pipe dream at this present time.

Let's look at some reasons of behind their current run of poor form.

The Injury to Jack Butland

A good goalkeeper is worth its weight in gold and this has certainly been the case than with Jack Butland. Since the 23-year-old injured his ankle on England duty at the end of March, Stoke have played 12 league games and claimed just one victory in that time. They have also shipped 32 goals in that period so Butland's return to the starting 11 cannot come soon enough.

The misfiring strike force

Marko Arnautovic celebrates after scoring the first goal for Stoke

Leaking goals is one issue, but putting the ball in the net is another one for the Potters.They are the equal lowest scorers in the Premier League this season with three goals and have scored more than one goal only once in their last 11 games.

Wilfried Bony has only played two games since his loan move from Manchester City and needs to find his feet, but there is little excuse for the likes of Marko Arnautovic, Bojan Krkic and Mame Biram Diouf.

Players on decline

Everton's Romelu Lukaku in action with Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross

The likes of Ryan Shawcross, Jonathan Walters, Glenn Whelan and Shay Given have had incredibly solid Premier League careers. The first three have been great servants for Stoke for a number of years, while Given has been a loyal deputy to Butland since arriving at Stoke a year ago. However, there has been a significant decline in their performances this season.

Hughes has stayed loyal to them so far, but the quartet have an average age of 33 and although it will be a tough call, it might be time to look to younger options.

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