04/05: Preview: Stoke City
by Matt Rowson
How did they do?
"It's hard to know what to condemn first. The defence, which pretty much stood around while Ade Akinbiyi and Gifton Noel-Williams did an impression of a top-of-the-table strikeforce? Certainly, it's worth remembering that Peter Taylor wasn't being entirely idiotic when he signed the former for Leicester, merely very over-enthusiastic with someone else's chequebook. And the latter, welcomed warmly back to the Vic, continues to offer what he was so often and so unfairly criticised for in his post-injury days at Watford, sticking the attack together by retaining the ball with his back to goal without being particularly threatening when facing the other way. It's a good combination, sure...but, Jesus, it's not that good, is it? I mean, without wishing to ruin your Christmas or anything, we'll face rather better early in the New Year..."
How will they do?
Stoke looked a decent side against us last season, albeit we probably played a part in that impression being created. They've also made a couple of sensible additions to the side, Dave Brammer in particular looks a decent signing, but it's worth remembering that they exceeded pre-season expectations with their comfortable mid-table finish last time. Biggest problem at the time of writing appears to be lack of width, with Peter Hoekstra's enforced retirement and Kris Commons having been pinched by Forest. Bottom half, without ever being in serious trouble.