No team in the Premier League should be underestimated. Many believe it is the most competitive league in the world, which has perhaps been proven this season with Leicester poised to win the title and West Ham competing for Champions League football.
Underestimating sides is something I think Stoke have been guilty of on home soil too many times this season, and Saturday was another example of that.
At 2-0 up and cruising with half-an-hour to go, the question in most people’s heads was how many is this going to end up, and in typical Premier League style, Swansea scored twice to take a draw away from the Brit.
Over the years, Stoke’s Britannia Stadium has been known to be a fortress and teams used to fear coming to the Potteries because they knew they would be in for a difficult game off both the players and the supporters.
That now seems to have completely disappeared, and the only time the atmosphere tends to be at a high is when the big boys come to town.
Yes, Stoke have lost that underdog factor over the last three seasons or so. If anything, they are now expected to win the majority of games, especially at home, and without doubt this has transferred to the supporters.
The league table this season shows that Mark Hughes’ side have picked up just one more point on home soil than they have away from home, a stat which would probably shock a lot of people. This can only go down to complacency against certain opposition throughout this season.
Crystal Palace, Watford and West Brom have all come to the Potteries and won amongst others this season, and one would think that if Stoke had of kept up their home form from recent years, they could well be in the position of West Ham or even above considering they are only four points off the Hammers now.
That said, it has been an injury-hit season and the club are above where they finished last campaign with a good chance of beating their record points tally for a second season running.
This Sunday it’s Liverpool at Anfield, a team I think Stoke have plenty in common with. Both have talented players but are very inconsistent, and when you take a look at the table, it’s quite a big game in both teams’ seasons.
You can watch both and have no idea which side is going to turn up. On their day both are good to watch, but arguably neither have that day often enough.
Although just below Stoke, Liverpool have games in hand, and a win on Sunday would put them in pole position to finish above the Potters come May 15.
Europe is looking a long shot now with the downside of relying on others above them to drop points, but it’s something to play for, and otherwise there is a danger of the season fizzling out.