After a start to the season that no one would envy, Mark Hughes found his side rock bottom of the table prior to an essential game against West Bromwich Albion. This game marked a significant upturn in form for the 'Potters' and with it came a raft of changes that are responsible for this improvement.
The loanee from Derby County created a state of confusion with his deadline day move as he became the fifth 'keeper in Stoke's 25-man squad. However it looks to be one of the best deals of the summer, as Grant has truly cemented himself as Stoke's second choice goalkeeper.
Prior to his introduction Stoke had struggled to fill the hole left by Jack Butland, after he broke his ankle in England's friendly with Germany. Countless poor performances had been shared between Jakob Haugaard and Shay Given and neither, truthfully, appeared to be able to produce the quality required for the Premier League.
Grant, however, plays as if he has been ever present in the league since his career began. Constantly cutting out a cool and authoritative presence at the back he has been responsible for cutting out the needless conceding of excessive goals.
Two defensive midfielders
For the majority of the games prior to the one against West Brom, Stoke only selected one defensive midfielder, who was normally coupled with a box to box midfielder and a number 10 or playmaker. This had left the side open and vulnerable to counter attacks, shown by the goals conceded against Man City and Tottenham when chasing the game.
Enter Geoff Cameron, the American coupled with Whelan at the heart of the midfield provided a solid and robust base to attack from. This symbolised a change in strategy for Stoke, who as a side focused on ensuring a clean sheet was achieved. The thought process being that provided they did this, the quality at the top end of the side would see the side through to a positive result.
Joe Allen at Number 10
In an attempt to install a higher work rate and increased energy in the final third Hughes decided to move his £12m signing into an unnatural role. Allen flourished, along with the side, as the Welshman managed to score four goals and provide two assists in five games. The 'Welsh Pirlo’s' intense work rate coupled with a new found eye for goal ensured the Potters’ managed to turn their form around.
The reasons for Stoke’s recent improvement are varied, but it is their overall collection that has seen the Potters fly up the table.