Few outside of the Potteries will be too upset to see Stoke fall back into the Championship. Finally bereft of Delap's prodigious long throw and seemingly unable to keep a fully fit and favoured group of cross supplying wingers on the pitch, Pulis' difficult second album may prove to be his swansong. Their niche tactical position has not survived the inevitable churning of playing personnel and a requirement to play in a more conventional Premiership style has seen their points total becalmed in the mid 30's since January.
|Heading For The Championship?|
Looking at the ISG coefficients, perhaps interesting to note that Stoke have only one point fewer than last season.
Whether this is a repeatable trait or as seems more likely, just random fluctuation that could appear among the late season records of any of the currently struggling teams, it does highlight the risks inherent in leaving yourself vulnerable over a small number of games. (The risk is increased for Wigan's rivals because cup commitments has also left the Latics with a game in hand over most of the relegation pack).
Fat tails, as the financial sector has discovered can herald very nasty surprises. Wigan will be looking to a repeat of their right hand tail heroics for another reprieve, while Stoke will be eyeing the opposite side of the graph and also hoping for a points haul not too distant from their "like for like" performances over the season to date to stabilize an ever decreasing gap between themselves and their north western rivals.
But the long run has mostly gone this season and anyone still fighting for survival will have to pitch their own talent levels against not inconsiderable doses of random chance. Neutrals alone, should enjoy the ride.