When Stoke City were promoted to the #Premier League in 2008 they were favourites to go straight back down but now as we go into August 2014 they are preparing for their seventh consecutive season in the top flight, on the back of a ninth placed finish in their last campaign.

The story of Stoke has been one to admire and has been an example of how to stabilise in the Premier League overseen largely by Tony Pulis but continued by Mark Hughes in his first year in charge. Taking into account the team finished seventeen points above relegation it's hard to believe that they were actually involved in the scrap down the bottom at the end of January being only two points behind eventually relegated Norwich.

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People were genuinely beginning to ask whether their stay in the league would be at an end but they responded in emphatic fashion, only losing three of their last fourteen games and beating the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United along the way.

Going into the new season Stoke fans will probably be encouraged that no-one is really talking about them because they have had a relatively settled summer. The highlight of pre-season so far has probably been the signing of ex Barcelona player Bojan Krkic, a player for whom big things can still be expected if he finds a club he is comfortable at and he will be hoping that is Stoke because since he left Barcelona he's struggled to settle anywhere and only scored a total of fourteen league goals during his time at various clubs. How Bojan adapts to the Premier League remains to be seen but with Jonathan Walters getting no younger and Peter Crouch possibly leaving he could be taking up the mantle of main man straight away.

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The big downside some might say of being a mid table team like Stoke is that there is a glass ceiling to what you can achieve and how high you can finish and they pretty much reached that last season so how can they realistically improve and what could they realistically aim for? The way Stoke have played #Football has often come in for criticism not just by neutral observers but also their own fans who would probably like to see more excitement, especially in home games. Unquestionably the biggest improvement could really do with being made on the road with Stoke only winning three away games all last season. Away form has infact always been a problem for Mark Hughes regardless of the club he is at - in his first season in charge at Manchester City for example his team only won twice away from home, this could be something to keep an eye on because under Tony Pulis Stoke had exactly the same problems when they left the comfort zone of the Britannia Stadium and it would be an achievement if Hughes could alter the pattern.

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Looking ahead it wouldn't be too unrealistic to say that Stoke could target a run in at least one of the cup competitions - the club's FA Cup Final in 2011 and resulting Europa League campaign proved to be hugely rewarding for all Stoke fans and is something they would very much like to experience again. I think Stoke City have a squad capable of having another comfortable season and although I think it will be difficult for them to secure top half this time I think their fans would happily sacrifice it for a continued improvement in playing style and a decent cup run. 2014-15 Prediction: 11th.