Stoke City sit bottom of the Championship, having accrued a paltry one point from their first six games – can they kick-start their season against promotion contenders Bristol City?


Stoke’s slow start

Stoke City have been creating too many chances in general play so far this season for any talk of a relegation battle to be valid, but regardless, they are currently performing well below pre-season expectation.

Much has been made of Nathan Jones’ responsibility for the poor form – and he has received a lot of criticism for his persistence with the diamond system, which worked so well for him at Luton.

However, Jones moved to a 4-3-3 at Birmingham just before the international break and a different formation did not necessarily change the pattern of the match.

Gregory forced a near-post save in the first half, then hit the post in the second before Joe Allen failed to convert from the re-bound and Tom Ince was denied as well – they were having the moments to score but were not taking their chances and then were punished at the other end.

It would be wrong to blame Gregory for not finding the net in five starts, because his work ethic is very important to the way Stoke play and the Millwall recruit is selfless in the final third – but more productivity is required from his teammates.


Bristol City bouncing

Bristol City drew 2-2 with Middlesbrough last time out, but they should have secured a fourth consecutive league win.

The Robins enjoyed most of the territorial advantages, with Han-Noah Massengo continuing to catch the eye in midfield and Kasey Palmer maintaining his impressive individual start to the campaign by nodding home Niclas Eliasson’s left-sided cross.

Still, Lee Johnson’s side were let down by defensive lapses in concentration, with young Taylor Moore perhaps chiefly responsible.

Moore showed at Southend that he is a talented defender with potential – and Norwich were rewarded last season for showing faith in youth – but some would suggest City require more reliable performers to realise their ambitions.

With Tomas Kalas likely to still be sidelined, Johnson might be tempted to move Moore out temporarily by handing a debut to Ashley Williams, a recent acquisition from Everton, who got 45 minutes under his belt on Monday.

Williams has played internationally for Wales, he has had Premier League experience with Swansea and could form a solid partnership with Nathan Baker, who has had a strong start to the campaign.


The Betting Angle

Based on the pricing, BetVictor’s traders are clearly swung by the shot data more than results, which is why a Stoke win is priced at narrow odds-against quotes, despite them being 10 points worse off.

That is understandable, because Stoke have averaged 6.7 shots per game from inside the penalty area so far this season, but only hit the target on average 2.7 times per game – there is reason to think their fortunes under Nathan Jones will begin to change with better shooting.

At the same time, Bristol City have avoided defeat in every league match since the opening day, while Stoke have failed to win every Championship game they have played this term.

The chances, therefore, of the Robins leaving the Potteries with either a point or three would seem greater than the 58.8

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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