Five things we have learnt from Stoke City's season so far

After their worst start to a Premier League season, Stoke City have managed 16 points from their last possible 21, which has seen Mark Hughes' side climb to 11th in the table. But what have we learned from Stoke's season so far?

1. Stoke have not missed Begovic

When Asmir Begovic joined defending Premier League champions, Chelsea in the summer, Stoke supporters were fearing the worst, with untested Jack Butland, veteran goalkeeper Shay Given and summer signing Jakob Haugaard their goalkeeping options.

However, Stoke supporters had nothing to fear, Butland has already filled Begovic's gloves at the Britannia Stadium exceptionally well, after he was finally handed his first-team opportunity at Stoke this season.

The 20-year-old has been in outstanding form and Stoke's star performer this campaign. He has kept five clean sheets in the Premier League, a statistic only bettered by Manchester City's Joe Hart (7), Arsenal's Petr Cech and West Brom's Boaz Myhill (both 6).

Butland has also made the second highest number of saves in the top-flight (51) this season, with only Sunderland's Costel Pantilimon recording more (54).

His performances were rewarded when he became the first Stoke player to start in a senior England international since 1984 when he started The Three Lion's Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania last month. Butland also played the second-half of England's recent international friendly against France at Wembley Stadium.

2. Stoke do not score many - but they do not concede many either

There have been just 23 goals scored in Premier League games involving Stoke this season; fewer than any other side. This is due to Stoke not scoring many goals, but not conceding many either.

Stoke have kept five clean sheets in the league this season, including their last three matches and their last four away homes games for the first time in the top-flight since February 1970.

The Potters have conceded just 12 goals this season and only three in their last seven league games. In fact, only Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have conceded fewer than Stoke this season.

Bojan scored his third goal of the season against Southampton on Saturday.
Bojan scored his third goal of the season against Southampton on Saturday. (Image: Reuters)

However, the Potters have struggled to score on a consistent basis, but a single goal has been all Stoke have needed to win in five games this season in all competitions.

Only bottom of the table Aston Villa have scored fewer than Stoke's 11 goals this season.

3. There is far more to Stoke's defence than Ryan Shawcross

Ryan Shawcross has rightly been praised for his form since returning to the side following back surgery in the summer and the difference he has made to Stoke's defence. However, this season has shown that there is far more to Stoke's defence than Shawcross.

Shawcross' central defensive partner Philipp Wollscheid has started 10 games this season, which have resulted in just one defeat and only five goals conceded. In fact, Stoke have lost only five of the 24 games the German defender has started, since he moved to the Potteries in January 2015, including defeats to Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Erik Pieters has been one of Stoke's most consistent and best performers this season. Not only does the left-back do his defensive duties, but he is a threat when going forward and assisted Bojan's goal against Southampton last Saturday.

The same can be said for Glen Johnson, who signed for the Potters on a free transfer in the summer. The former Liverpool right-back has recorded two assists in 12 appearances so far this season; one more than Xherdan Shaqiri has achieved.

4. Walters is one of Stoke's unsung heroes

Stoke may have caught the eye with their recruitment in the summer, including record signing Xherdan Shaqiri, but it is Jonathan Walters, who has again been one of Stoke's unsung heroes this season.

The 32-year-old joined the Potters in 2010 from Ipswich Town and he has starred for club and country so far this season, scoring eight goals in 16 games in all competitions.

Not only did Walters score two goals in the Republic of Ireland's play-off victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina to send Ireland through to next summer's European Championships, but he has also been key in Stoke's rise up the table.

Walters celebrates after scoring two goals against Bosnia.
Walters celebrates after scoring two goals against Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Image: Getty Images)

He scored the opener in their 2-1 win over Bournemouth, assisted Marko Arnautovic's winner against Chelsea and has scored twice in the Capital One Cup so far this season.

His performances were rewarded earlier this month with a new contract, which saw him commit his future to Stoke until 2017.

5. The Brit not the fortress it once was

Once famed for their reliance on results at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke have turned themselves into a formidable force on the road under Mark Hughes.

Twelve of Stoke's 19 points this season have been picked-up away from home and their latest away win over Southampton at the weekend took their points tally from their last four away games to 10.

While at home, Stoke have suffered three defeats, winning twice, and have scored just five goals, conceding seven.

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