Stoke’s early season defensive form undoubtedly won them the admiration of many a fantasy premier league manager but since the turn of the year it has been far from plain sailing for the Potters.
Having kept nine clean sheets up until round 18 of the Irish Times Fantasy Premier League the Stoke defence was a so called sure thing week in week out for clean sheet but since then Shawcross and Stoke have not managed a single clean sheet in nine games. This will undoubtedly worry fantasy managers looking at the Potters clean sheet prospects.
Over the final 12 weeks of the season Stoke have six games left to play at the Britannia as they welcome West Ham, West Brom, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Norwich and Tottenham. As we eluded to in out goalkeeping prospects when looking at Asmir Begovic these games are not as bad as they first might seem. As we know the Hammers are struggling for goals on their travels, despite West Brom’s 2-0 victory over Liverpool they too are struggling to find results on their travels of late, Aston Villa are still struggling for results and with the Potter defence still being one of the toughest in the league Benteke and co will have a job breaking them down, while the Canaries too are struggling for goals having failed to score in their last two away games.
Away from Stoke travel to Fulham, Newcastle, Everton, QPR, Sunderland and Southampton. Again at first glance they don’t look to enticing but when you consider that QPR, Sunderland and Fulham were not able to manage a single goal between them in their last home games the visit of Stoke will not inspire confidence that they can grab a hat full of goals.
Shawcross is a without doubt an ever present presence in the Potters back line, clean sheets aside he does also offer an attacking threat from set pieces and is capable of chipping in with a goal or two as the goal and assist his has managed this season will testify.