Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Stoke City

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Stoke City will be expecting another season of progress, with Mark Hughes’ side finishing in the top 10 last year and looking to build on that with some astute signings over the summer months.

[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]

The Potters have only won one major trophy in their 152-year history, which was the League Cup in 1972, but their history is rich as they were one of the founding members of the Football League back in 1888.

Stoke’s main rivals are third-tier Port Vale, but in the PL they are close to both Manchester clubs and the likes of Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion.

Best possible XI:

— Butland —

— Johnson — Shawcross — Muniesa — Pieters —

— Afellay — Adam — Cameron — Arnautovic —

— Bojan —

— Joselu —

Transfers In: Joselu ($9 million, Hannover 96), Phillip Wollscheid (Undisclosed, Bayer Leverkusen), Jakob Haugaard (Undisclosed, FC Midtjylland), Shay Given (Free, Aston Villa), Glen Johnson (Free, Liverpool), Moha El Ouriachi (Free, Barcelona), Dom Telford (Compensation, Blackpool), Mark Waddington (Compensation, Blackpool), Ibrahim Afellay (Free, Barcelona), Marco van Ginkel (Season-long loan, Chelsea)

Transfers Out: Wilson Palacios (Released), Thomas Sorensen (Released), Andy Wilkinson (Released), Robert Huth ($7 million, Leicester City), Steven Nzonzi ($10 million, Sevilla), Jamie Ness (Free, Scunthorpe United), Asmir Begovic ($12 million, Chelsea)

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Bojan ripped it up in his debut PL season.

Last season: Ninth in Premier League – Stoke recorded their highest-ever points tally in the PL and it was also their highest ever PL finish. All in all, a great campaign for the Potters. If Bojan hadn’t gone down injured, they may have racked up even more points. Tough to break down, they pulled off big wins against Arsenal and Liverpool at home and everyone is aware that Stoke are an emerging team.

Star player: Bojan Krkic – The tiny Spanish playmaker has recovered from rupturing the ACL in his left knee and the man who will forever be know as “the next Messi” will be Stoke’s go-to guy this season. It will take him a little while to regain his best form, but when he does he knits everything together seamlessly for Stoke. With him, they are a completely different team as his creativity improves their offensive play substantially.

Coach’s corner: Mark Hughes has done a wonderful job at Stoke over the past two seasons to put them in the top 10 and this year they will look to push into the top eight. The Potters have been transformed into a team who loves to spray the ball around and although they still retain that physical power that made them into a PL mainstay, Stoke are a very good team to watch. Hughes has used his links at Barcelona from his playing days to bring in Bojan and Affelay, as the Britannia Stadium is a tough place to go. Hughes deserves a lot of credit.

source: Getty Images
Hughes has done a great job at Stoke since 2013.

PST predicts: Another season of progress for Stoke. Yes, they lost two key players in Begovic and Nzonzi, but they aren’t irreplaceable and they have added plenty of depth to their squad. Given their strong second half to last season, expect the Potters to be in the top 10 and challenging to win silverware in both the FA and League cups.

Watch Live: West Ham United v. Liverpool

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After weeks of having a game in hand on Premier League title chasers Manchester City and Leicester City, the full extent of Liverpool’s lead will be revealed when the Reds visit West Ham United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Once the full-time whistle blows at the London Stadium, all 20 PL sides will have played 24 games. Ahead of kickoff, Jurgen Klopp‘s side leads second-place Man City by a whopping 16 points.

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West Ham, meanwhile, sit 17th in the table and are only clear of the relegation zone by way of goal differential. That’s something that could very easily change between now and 5 p.m. ET.

LIVE, League Cup semifinal: Man City v. Man United

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It’s time for leg two of the Manchester derby in the semifinals of the EFL Cup (Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET) at the Etihad Stadium.

[ LIVE: Man City v. Man United ]

Manchester City lead 3-1 following their first-leg dismantling of Manchester United at Old Trafford. In theory, it’s a mere formality to reach the final at Wembley, where they would take on Aston Villa following their late dramatics on Tuesday.

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while we will have you covered here at Pro Soccer Talk with all of the reaction and analysis.

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Transfer rumor roundup: Richarlison to Barca for $110m? Spurs’ striker search

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Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.


A roundup of all of the major transfer rumors, most notably those involving Premier League clubs, on Wednesday…

[ MORE: Spurs complete Bergwijn transfer from PSV ]

Barcelona have reportedly had a $110-million bid for Richarlison rejected by Everton. That’s a mind-blowing number for a club like Everton to receive, but the Toffees apparently didn’t have to think long before saying “thanks, but no thanks.” Luis Suarez is expected to miss four months due to a knee injury, leaving the Blaugrana somewhat for a replacement. Everton, however, have no desire to lose a key member of their squad with little to no time to sign a replacement.


After adding winger Steven Bergwijn on Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur are heavily linked with a number of strikers as options to replace the injured Harry Kane. AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek is the most frequently linked (and most expensive) player coming out of the rumor mill, while Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud has come up as an emergency option (he is reportedly open to the idea). However, Jose Mourinho has reportedly been told he has just $13 million to acquire a new forward after spending a combined $108 million on Bergwijn and Gedson Fernandes.


Elsewhere in Tottenham rumors, full back Kyle Walker-Peters is expected to complete a loan move (without an option to buy) to Southampton in the very near future. The 22-year-old has been on the fringe of the first-team squad for what feels like five years now, but has never quite broken through. This could be Spurs putting into the shop window a player who they don’t believe is in their long-term plans in order to drive up his price tag come this summer.


Sheffield United look set to make a big push for a top-six finish, as the Blades are linked with moves for a pair of highly rated young players: Richairo Zivkovic, from Chinese side Changchun Yatai, and Sander Berge, from Genk. Zivkovic was one of the most highly touted youngsters in Europe before moving to China on a big-money deal; Berge has been linked with some of the biggest clubs across Europe in recent years, all the while the 21-year-old has become a fixture for the Belgian side.

Man United confirm agreement for Bruno Fernandes

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Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.


Bruno Fernandes is on the brink of becoming a Manchester United player after the club announced on Wednesday that an agreement has been reached with Portuguese side Sporting CP.

[ MORE: Spurs complete Bergwijn transfer from PSV ]

From the club’s website, which is currently unreachable at the time of posting:

“Manchester United are delighted to announce it has reached agreement with Sporting Clube de Portugal for the transfer of Bruno Fernandes.

“The deal is subject to a medical and the agreement of personal terms. A further announcement will be made in due course.”

The dollar figure most commonly reported is $61 million (potentially reaching $88 million after add-ons). Fernandes, 25, is reportedly in the process of visiting the Sporting offices to terminate his current contract and record a goodbye video for fans before boarding a flight to Manchester.

Fernandes came close to joining Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, but an agreement could never be reached between the involved parties and they ended up signing Giovani Lo Celso from Real Betis instead.