Five games into the new Premier League season, Stoke City find themselves rooted to the foot of the league with a single point to show.
It it far from the start that last season’s ninth placed team would have imagined.
However, are the Potters entering the territory where there position becomes untenable? Exactly how damaging is this woeful start to their campaign?
Manager Mark Hughes has already received the dreaded ‘vote of confidence’ from Chairman Peter Coates speaking to the Telegraph.
The Welshman is odds-on favorite to be first Premier League manager shown the door this season, although the statistics don’t all back up the doom and gloom.
More from Playing for 90
- Alexia Putellas reaches 400 games with Barcelona
- Everything you need to know ahead of the 250th ‘Super Clásico’
- Barcelona put five past Real Betis
- Manchester City suffer but come away with win over West Ham
- Baffling Liga MX ruling strips Puebla of a hard-earned victory
Over the last five seasons in the Premier League, only Newcastle United last season and Reading in 2012-13 were relegated after being bottom of the table after five matches.
In fact, the slow start is not unusual for the Potters, who had just one more point at this stage last season and just one win in their first five the campaign before that.
Objectively, a point at the Riverside against Middlesbrough, home losses against Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur and an away loss at Everton are not terrible results.
Three of Stoke’s early opponents form the top three of the division, but it is the capitulation at Crystal Palace, who Stoke incidentally lost all three matches against last season, that has alarm bells ringing.
Over the previous five seasons, no team in the bottom three after five games has conceded as many goals as Stoke .
The closest are the 2011-12 Bolton Wanderers side who shipped 13 in that span before being relegated as bottom side in the division. Southampton actually conceded one more than Stoke over the first five matches in 2012-13 but one match, a 6-1 hammering by Arsenal, accounted for a significant portion of those.
Arsenal allowed 14 goals, like Stoke, over the first five matches of the 2012 campaign but one aberration, the 8-2 thrashing at Old Trafford by Manchester United, accounted for the majority of those.
It is the consistent shipping to multiple goals that has the Potters’ faithful concerned.
There is hope for Stoke, however in some recent historical context.
Over the previous five seasons seven of the fifteen teams, less than half, in the bottom three after the opening five games have been relegated.
Equally, the Premier League’s statistics provide glimmers for the Potters. Stoke are ranked seventh in crosses delivered in the division, fifth in corners with 30 which is the same as Manchester City and thirteenth in what the league considers ‘big chances missed’ with four.
The passing numbers, sixteenth overall, and shooting statistics, fourteenth overall, make for less optimistic reading.
More from Stoke City
- Stoke City transfer news: Three clubs that should sign Jack Butland
- Bruno Martins Indi on the verge of joining Stoke City
- Stoke City sign experienced African forward
- Is Stoke star right about Scotland boss?
- Bony leads Stoke to victory over Swansea
The defensive numbers are where the concern really lies as the Potters have allowed the most goals in the division yet are in the league’s top five for tackles, blocks and saves.
The schedule opens up a bit for Mark Hughes’s side with Hull City, Sunderland and Bournemouth on the docket over October and November.
However if Hughes can’t muster signs of a recovery in Wednesday’s League Cup tie against the Tigers, or against equally under-pressure former manager Tony Pulis’s West Bromwich Albion then time might run just run out.
Either way, Saturday’s home match against Albion is shaping to be someone’s last match in charge.