Outsiders Stoke well worth a punt for Capital One Cup glory
Matt Haynes | January 3, 2016
Stoke City are 7/1 with Coral to win the Capital One Cup, which is reaching the business end of the competition as the semi-finals approach.
The Potters have arguably been one of the most entertaining sides to watch in the Premier League this season and their Capital One Cup semi against Liverpool at the Britannia offers up plenty of intrigue.
Despite narrowly losing 1-0 in the first Premier League match of the season, due to a Philippe Coutinho wonder goal, though since then Stoke have clicked into place, with standout results against Manchester City and Manchester United as Mark Hughes’ side ran out 2-0 winners each time at home.
After a bit of experimenting, Hughes seems to have finally found a way of accommodating his players, and the front three are quite possibly the biggest handful in the English top flight.
In Bojan Krkic, Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri Stoke have a trio who wouldn’t look out of place in a top La Liga side and they are more than capable of running riot against what has been a relatively rusty Reds rearguard.
Potters have players to win trophies
After years of Premier League consolidation, where Stoke utilised an effective way of playing that got results and operated to their strengths, Hughes has created a considerable shift in footballing mentality.
Previously under Tony Pulis, their physical style caused opponents no end of problems from set-pieces and everyone remembers the long throw of Rory Delap, which often found Ricardo Fuller in the penalty area.
This approach was enough to guarantee survival and stabilise themselves as a genuine mid-table side, though under Hughes, who has managed to attract quality personnel, they can push on.
Wanted by Manchester United, for whom he spent some of his career, Hughes will no doubt want to prove that he is good enough for the job by winning silverware with Stoke, while building a quality team at the same time.
Stoke have more than enough about them to beat Liverpool over two legs in the Capital One Cup semi-final and then push on to win the competition. They have already beaten the other teams left in the competition this term, running out 4-3 winners over Everton at Goodison Park, while an Arnautovic brace ensured Stoke downed City.
Brilliant Butland can be unlikely hero
While the front three have received a lot of the plaudits for Stoke’s success this term, it is easy to forget the contribution that goalkeeper Jack Butland has made.
Quite possibly responsible for some of the best goalkeeper performances of the season, Butland is more than a match for Liverpool’s strikeforce, which has hardly been prolific this season.
Should Stoke go all the way, he will even outshine current England number one and international colleague, Joe Hart, while simultaneously staking a credible place in the Three Lions starting lineup at Euro 2016 this summer.
Check out our comprehensive Capital One Cup archive.