Welcome to Fortress Britannia
It isn’t an outlandish or bold statement to say that Stoke City are hard to beat at home. It isn’t even particularly interesting - as it’s one of those things that everyone watching the Premier League has come to accept.
December 18th, 2012
This season, Stoke City have picked up 15 of their 23 points at home. They are yet to lose this season at Britannia, boasting a record of four wins and three draws from their seven games. Said victories have come against the likes of Fulham, Newcastle United and Swansea while both Arsenal and Manchester City have been held to draws.
In fact, Tony Pulis hasn’t seen his side lose at home for 14 league matches. In that time they have won seven and draw seven; dating all the way back to February when Martin O’Neill’s then-resurgent Sunderland left the Britannia with all three points after a 1-0 win.
Stoke City is a team built around making the most of the 19 home games in the Premier League stadium. The Britannia becomes a fortress for the Stoke players, coaches and fans as they ensure that as few teams as possible are able to leave the Potteries with smiles on their faces.
League champions Manchester City haven’t won there since Stoke returned to the top flight in 2008. The credit for the success at the ground has to go to Tony Pulis; it is clear that he sets his teams up to win their home matches, no matter who the opposition is.
In Asmir Begovic and his back-four, Stoke possesses one of the meanest defences in the Premier League. Teams are forced to work very hard to eke out goal-scoring opportunities. Rarely, if ever, are shots and chances offered up on a plate.
And going forward, Stoke are a constantly improving side. Peter Crouch’s introduction to the side has changed a dynamic in their play and he links with constantly improving wide players. Jonathan Walters has excelled from the lower-league goal scorer that Tony Pulis signed to a hard-working support striker for Crouch. Both are threats to opposition defences when supplied from wide by the likes of Jermaine Pennant, Michael Kightly and even rampaging Geoff Cameron.
Of course, there has to be special mention for the location of the Britannia Stadium. Whether by fortune or design, its positioning alone in the landscape leaves it open to the harshest moments of the English weather.
When every little part comes together nicely – the players, the fans and the locations – it ensures that no-one looks forward to visiting Stoke; never the month, day of the week or the exact weather conditions.
Everton were the visitors this weekend. David Moyes is a knowledgeable enough man to know that if they leave the game with a point (and they did), they’ll have every right to be happy.