Stoke City have endured a very challenging start to the season, with the Potters failing to win any of their opening ten Championship games, before a 2-1 win at Swansea City before the international break.
That win against Swansea did slightly ease the mounting pressure on Stoke manager Nathan Jones, but even the three points they picked up could not lift the Potters off the bottom of the Championship table, which still leaves plenty of doubt over Jones’ future heading into the international break.
Stoke have struggled at times at both ends of the pitch this season, with the Potters conceding 22 goals so far which is the joint most in the division, while they have also only managed to register eleven league goals in their opening eleven matches.
The Potters have been linked with a move for former Aston Villa midfielder Birkir Bjarnason, and the Iceland international could be a useful addition for Stoke’s midfield were the club to secure his signature.
Here, we take a look at three reasons why Stoke signing Bjarnason would have a positive impact on Jones’ side…
Bjarnason’s ability to add steel to midfield
Stoke’s defence has at times been left way too exposed by the midfield in the opening eleven matches, which makes it very difficult for the Potters defence to handle opposition counter-attacks – and Jones’ side have suffered as a result shipping plenty of goals in games where they have started the match on the front foot.
Bjarnason is the sort of player who offers excellent work rate from midfield and has the energy to track back when his side have lost possession, which could be a very useful quality to add to the Potters’ midfield to prevent them becoming exposed when caught on the counter.
The Iceland international is also able to read the game well, making him able to intercept and break down opposition attacks – and that is something which Jones’ side have lacked at times throughout the season so far.
Bjarnason has the ability to operate both on the wing and in the centre of midfield, having been used regularly in both positions in the Championship at times during his two-and-a-half-year spell with Aston Villa, which makes him a very valuable option for the clubs he represents.
That flexibility would be a welcome bonus for Jones’s side, with Stoke shifting between a diamond shape in midfield, a more flat 4-4-2 and a three-man defence with wing backs, during the opening eleven matches of the season – and Bjarnason would be comfortable playing in any of those formations either on the wing or in the centre of midfield.
Bjarnason could therefore offer Jones the ability to change formation during games, when the Potters are being put under pressure by their opponents and being left too exposed in defence, making him an ideal player to add to the Potters’ squad.
Ability to add goals from midfield
As well as being able to cover well from midfield in transition, Bjarnason has also demonstrated an ability to arrive into the box in support of a striker and add some extra goals from midfield, which he showed by registering five goals during his spell at Aston Villa.
Stoke have lacked at times an extra presence in the box from midfield, which has placed more pressure on their strikers to get on the score sheet regularly – and that is something that the Potters’ forwards have struggled to do so far this campaign.
Bjarnason’s ability to add a few goals and take some of the pressure of Stoke’s forwards, would be a welcome addition and something which Jones’ side could really benefit from were they to manage to secure his signature.