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Damning statistics for Alex Neil to urgently address at Stok

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Angry supporters will not let Stoke City point to difficult fixtures or injuries as any excuse

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Stoke City supporters showed their anger and despair as they watched their side roll over and be embarrassed in front of the live television cameras against Watford.

The fixtures dont get much easier forAlex Neil away at promotion chasing Burnley on Wednesday, at home against league leaders Sheffield United on Saturday but there are statistics that they need to address urgently no matter the opposition.

That wasStokesheaviest home league defeat outside the Premier League this century. They lost 4-2 to Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship in the October of the 2007/08 promotion season but hadnt lost by a margin of four goals or more since March 1999 against Reading amidthe sludge of the second half of the Brian Little campaign.

READ MORE:Furious Alex Neil issues Stoke City rallying cry after home knock out by Watford

It is damning enough to be in a Stoke side that is mentioned in the same sentence as the team from that era but there were fans with long enough memories to compare the embarrassing collapse in the closing stages on Sunday to the yellow-bellied performances in the darkest days under Little.

Stoke conceded four or more at home on eight occasions during the decade back in the top flight, with four coming without reply; vs Chelsea (September 2017), Tottenham (September 2016), Tottenham (April 2016) and Chelsea (January 2013). They havent lost by more than four goals at home in the league since January 1998 against Birmingham (7-0).

Alex Neil has pointed to the importance of the first goal in the Championship.

Particularly for us,he said.What happens is that when we concede the first goal and have to come out and leave spaces behind, its an issue. I thought you could see that in the second half.

The statistics back that up. In the 57 matches going back to the start of last season, Stoke have scored the first goal on 30 occasions and conceded the first goal on 24 occasions. Well, just look at the numbers.

When Stoke have scored the first goal: P30 W19 D5 L6 F51 A26 Pts62

When opposition have scored the first goal: P24 W1 D6 L17 F17 A41 Pts9

Its no wonder that fans upped and left when the second and third goals of four went in for Watford. There were 25 minutes left but the match was over, supporters knew it, players knew it and its not good enough.

It is more than 12 months now sinceStoke beat West Bromwich Albionat home and seemed set for a serious challenge for at least a top six spot.

In those 12 months, they have picked up 24 points from 22 league games at the bet365 Stadium, winning six, drawing six and losing 10. They have scored 25 and let in 27.

They have scored more than twice in the same match on only two occasions, a handsome 3-0 win over Swansea in February and that disastrous 3-3 draw with Cardiff last October. They have failed to score in seven games, they have kept seven clean sheets.

Players have to buck up their ideas because that is clearly not acceptable.

It has been a fairly turgid calendar year so far for Stoke and they havent been higher than 10th in the Championship since January 22, when they were ninth after losing at home to Fulham.

It is not the first slow trudge through the midriff of the Championship. They didnt spend any time in the top eight from relegation in 2018 until October 2020 and then it was a tale of two halves in two seasons.

In Michael ONeills first full campaign they were in the top eight after 19 of his first 26 games, none of the latter 20. In his second full year it was 23 of the first 25 but none of the last 21.

The highest position so far this season in a squeezed division has been 12th. It is a show of loyalty that more than 1,000 tickets have been sold for the away end at Burnley on Wednesday night and that support deserves to be rewarded.

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