For once we have some Competition between keepers. It’s likely to be fought between Butland and Given, Butland looks to be ahead at this stage. Considering Stoke kept 7 clean sheets last year, I’d avoid him anyway.
Stoke’s defence has been pretty consistent, personnel wise anyway. They all have solid job security, with Johnson’s arrival likely to stop the right back rotation. Shawcross will be ever present, Muniesa looks likely to partner him at centre back. Pieters should lock down the left back role.
N’Zonzi is a huge loss for Stoke. He was a massive presence in midfield, and there is no obvious replacement for his role. Cameron could get the gig in midfield (Listed as a defender), he will compete with loan signing Van Ginkel. His returns aren’t great anyway. Adam is one to consider, he will be a vital part of their success playing in central midfield.
Bojan can play in behind the striker and on the wings, I expect him to play as a number 10 if fully fit. His fitness is going to be crucial for Stoke, if they can get him playing his best football look out. Arnautovic and Affelay should provide the width, although Diouf will have something to say about that.
I can’t see Walters getting a start in their best team. Odemwingie could become relevant if injuries hit.
New signing Joselu will be competing with Diouf and Crouch for the striker role. Diouf has been playing out wide during pre-season, I wouldn’t consider him an option. With Crouch’s best days behind him, Joselu is certainly one to watch.
50/50: If Bojan was a midfielder I’d be all over him. The categorisation of forwards and midfielders seems inconsistent, even though he won’t play up front Bojan is listed as a forward. At just 5.5 he has to be monitored, though I wouldn’t be brave enough to start with him. Joselu is an unknown quantity, he’s unlikely to start GW1 but should work into things. Keep an eye on both.
Lock: Yeah… None.
Avoid: With an array of new signings I’m not sure Walters will hold his place. Even if he does, it won’t be up front. He has been a favourite for some in the past, I’d definitely avoid him.
Breakout: Butland will finally get his chance to become the first team keeper after Begovic’s exit. As I’ve already stated though their defensive record would need to turn around if he’s to become relevant. At 4.5 he has to be on your watchlist.
Sunderland are up next, there’s under a week to go!!! The excitement builds…