Stoke went into the 2013–14 season under new manager Mark Hughes following the departure of Tony Pulis at the end of last season. Hughes stated his intent to change the teams' style of play to a more possession based game but a lack of transfer activity before the season started saw Stoke installed as one of the bookies favourites for relegation. Stoke began well narrowly losing to Liverpool and then beating Crystal Palace and West Ham but the club failed to address their goalscoring problem in the transfer market with winger Marko Arnautović the only forward signed during the summer.
This proved problematic for Stoke as they went through September and October without a win, picking up just two points and scoring only three goals. Stoke improved in November and December going a run of one defeat in seven games which included a 3–2 win over Chelsea although they did end 2013 with heavy defeats at Newcastle and Tottenham. Stoke had a poor January picking up just one point and defeat at Sunderland left the side on the edge of the relegation places. However the arrival of Peter Odemwingie from Cardiff City in a swap deal with Kenwyne Jones saw Hughes able to change his formation and tactics which instantly paid off with a 2–1 victory over Manchester United on 1 February. Stoke's form and performances improved thereafter and they went through March unbeaten with four victories. Stoke maintained their form until the end of the season where they finished in 9th position with 50 points their best finish since the 1974–75 season.
Stoke returned to training on 8 July where the squad met up with Mark Hughes at Clayton Wood for the first time. The next day they went to nearby St George's Park for fitness tests. The squad then travelled to Évian-les-Bains for a five-day training camp. They squad then spent a week at Clayton Wood, playing a match against Burton Albion, winning 2–0 before departing for the United States to play friendlies against Houston Dynamo, FC Dallas and Philadelphia Union. Stoke announced that they will offer supporters free bus travel to every Premier League away game in the 2013–14 season.
Stoke's first pre-season match against Houston ended in a 2–0 defeat with goals from Andrew Driver and Giles Barnes. Stoke performed better in their next match against FC Dallas, and won the match 1–0 thanks to a well worked goal scored by Walters. However the match did end on a poor note as Cameron Jerome saw a penalty kick saved by Chris Seitz and then Andy Wilkinson was sent-off for a poor tackle. Stoke's final match in the United States saw them beat the Philadelphia Union 2–0 thanks to early goals from Michael Kightly and Brek Shea. However the match was overshadowed due to an injury sustained by Shea. On their return to the UK, Stoke took on Mark Hughes' hometown club Wrexham and won 1–0 with Walters scoring the goal. Stoke ended their pre-season with a goalless draw against Italian side Genoa.
Stoke's first match of the 2013–14 saw them come up against Liverpool at Anfield and prior to the match Hughes spoke of his intentions of playing an attacking style of football. City suffered a blow before kick-off after Wilson Palacios pulled out after feeling ill in the warm-up and was taken to hospital where he underwent a "minor surgical procedure". A frantic opening 15 minutes saw Stoke hit the crossbar through Robert Huth and Kolo Touré did likewise for Liverpool who then saw Daniel Sturridge have a goal ruled out for offside. Asmir Begović was forced to make a number of fine saves to keep Liverpool out but he did conceded one after 37 minutes after a low shot from Sturridge found its way in to the bottom corner. Liverpool controlled most of the second half in particular Philippe Coutinho and only some more saves from Begović kept Stoke in the match. Stoke did have the chance to come away with a point after Daniel Agger handled in the area in the final moments but Jonathan Walters saw his spot kick saved by Simon Mignolet who also blocked Kenwyne Jones' rebound meaning that Hughes' first match ended in a defeat.
Hughes' first home match against Ian Holloway's Crystal Palace saw Stoke play poorly in the first half with Peter Crouch guilty of poor finishing. Palace took advantage with Marouane Chamakh getting the better of Ryan Shawcross to put the Eagles in front. Stoke improved greatly in the second half and won the match with goals from Adam and Shawcross to earn Stoke their first win of the season.
After beating Walsall in the League Cup Stoke made the trip to the capital to take on West Ham United. Stoke produced arguably their best away performance in the Premier League as they controlled the 90 minutes at Upton Park and won the match late on after substitute Jermaine Pennant curled in a free-kick past Jussi Jääskeläinen. After the match Hughes stated that it was a 'near-perfect' performance from his side.
On transfer deadline day Stoke brought in Stephen Ireland on loan from Aston Villa and Austrian forward Marko Arnautović from Werder Bremen while Michael Kightly, Ryan Shotton and Cameron Jerome all left the club on long term loans. After the international break the Premier League returned with Hughes coming up against one of his former clubs, Manchester City. Stoke produced another solid and fluent performance and had a number of fine opportunities to win the match but were guilty of some poor finishing. Man City on the other hand were disappointing and rarely troubled the Stoke defence and the match ended in a goalless draw.
The following week saw Stoke produce an abject performance against Chris Hughton's Norwich City. The Canaries were on top for most of the match and earned a 1–0 win after Jonny Howson's 25-yard strike in the first half.
Stephen Ireland made his first start for Stoke away at Fulham on 5 October whose manager Martin Jol went into the match under great pressure. Stoke were the better team and had two penalty appeals dismissed by the referee Roger East in the first half. Huth then had two headers cleared off the line by the Fulham defence before Darren Bent scored to win the match for the Cottagers.
After the international break Stoke returned to action with a home match against Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion. Stoke went into the game with only four goals to their name in seven matches and again they failed to register a goal as the match ended in a 0–0 draw. Stoke were fortunate to get a point from the match as Begovic had to make three saves to keep out Stéphane Sessègnon and Albion should have had a penalty when Charlie Adam tripped Youssouf Mulumbu.
Stoke then travelled to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United and made a great start with Peter Crouch, making his first start since 24 August, scoring in the fourth minute. Stoke had chances to extended their lead through Walters but David De Gea made a fine double save before Robin van Persie scored just before half time. Stoke did go into the break in front however as Marko Arnautovic scored his first Stoke goal from a 25-yard free-kick. Arnautovic went off injured early into the second half and Stoke were unable to hold on for victory as goals from Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernández meant that Stoke ended October just outside the relegation zone.
Strong winds greeted high flying Southampton at the Britannia Stadium and Stoke took the unusual step of deciding to swap ends after winning the toss. It was a decision which instantly paid off as Southampton gave the ball away from kick-off and Pieters passed the ball back to goalkeeper Begovic whose long kick downfield deceived Artur Boruc after only 13 seconds, becoming the second Stoke 'keeper to score a goal with the other being Dennis Herod. It was not enough to earn Stoke the win as Jay Rodriguez's looping header earned the Saints a point.
Stoke then travelled to Swansea on 10 November and scored twice in the first half through Walters and Ireland. However a second half collapse saw the Swans score three goals to make the score 3–2. Stoke rescued a point after Charlie Adam converted a penalty in the final minute and the match ended 3–3.
After the international break the Premier League returned with a match against Sunderland at the Britannia. The Potters took the lead through Charlie Adam just past the half hour after being set-up by Steven N'Zonzi. Sunderland's task was made harder when Wes Brown was sent-off for a sliding tackle on Adam although Brown clearly won the ball. In the second half Stoke created and missed a number of chances before N'Zonzi chipped the ball past Vito Mannone to seal a 2–0 victory, ending a run of eight matches without a win.
Stoke were dealt a blow before their next match against Everton with Robert Huth being ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery. In his place came Marc Muniesa for his first Premier League start but Stoke went onto produce an abject performance and crashed to a 4–0 defeat.
Stoke began the festive period with a frustrating goalless draw against newly promoted Cardiff City at the Britannia. Stoke had good chances to win the match but were guilty of some very poor finishing, having 17 shots with only two on target.
José Mourinho's Chelsea side were next to arrive at the Britannia and they made a quick start taking the lead through German winger André Schürrle after 10 minutes. Chelsea continued to dominate but could not get a second goal and just before half time Peter Crouch took advantage of a mistake from Petr Čech from a corner. Stoke came back into the match after the break and Stephen Ireland scored with a placed shot only for Schürrle to score just three minutes later. He almost got a hat-trick but his long range effort cannoned off the crossbar. Ireland then wasted a good chance before Oussama Assaidi curled in a last minute winner to win the game 3–2. It was Stoke's first league win over Chelsea since the 1974–75 season.
The next match against Hull City was a dour 0–0 draw with both teams struggling to create clear goal scoring opportunities.
The final home match of 2013 was a Midlands derby against Aston Villa and while it was an uneventful opening 45 minutes there was one major incident when Marc Wilson tripped Andreas Weimann who would have been through on goal but the referee deemed it not to be a clear goal scoring opportunity and showed Wilson a yellow card. At half time Hughes decided to replace the ineffective Arnautovic with Charlie Adam and soon after he scored after a flick on from Crouch. However Villa scored an equaliser after a long ball from Brad Guzan fell to Pieters whose attempted header back to Begovic fell to Libor Kozák. Stoke were not to denied through and won the match 2–1 after Cameron's cross missed both Guzan and the Villa defence to leave Crouch with a simple tap in.
On Boxing day Stoke made the long journey to Newcastle United where they were without the injured Asmir Begovic who was replaced by Thomas Sorensen. Stoke made a good start and took the lead through Assaidi, however Glenn Whelan was then sent-off for two bookable offences by Martin Atkinson which resulted in a furious Mark Hughes also being sent from the dugout. It got worse for Stoke as just before half time they were reduced to nine-men as Wilson was shown a straight red for conceding a penalty which helped Newcastle to run out 5–1 winners. After the match Hughes was charged by the FA for improper conduct whilst Stoke lodged an official complaint against Atkinson with Peter Coates branding him a "disgrace".
2014 began with a home fixture against Everton and in what was an even first half it was the Toffees who came closest to scoring with Kevin Mirallas hitting the crossbar and then the post. At half time Jack Butland came on for Thomas Sorensen who came off injured. Stoke took the lead in the 49th minute after Whelan's cross was only half cleared by John Stones and the ball fell to Assaidi who fired past Tim Howard. With Stoke looking to hold on to the three points a clumsy tackle by Jermaine Pennant on Leon Osman resulted in Leighton Baines scoring a late penalty.
Stoke's next home game was against the other Merseyside club, Liverpool on 12 January. Jack Butland made his first start in the league but conceded early on as Aly Cissokho's shot deflected in off Shawcross and then a mistake by Wilson and Butland handed Luis Suárez an easy tap in. With Liverpool threatening to run riot Stoke came back and scored through Crouch and Adam to make it 2–2 at half time. Liverpool went back in front after Wilson was adjudged to have fouled Raheem Sterling in the area and Steven Gerrard converted the penalty. With Stoke pressing for an equaliser Liverpool counterattacked expertly and Luis Suárez curled a shot past Butland to make it 4–2. Walters got another one back for Stoke before Daniel Sturridge made it 5–3 to Liverpool.
The first away match of 2014 came against Crystal Palace who were managed by former manager Tony Pulis. Stoke produced a very poor performance and another defensive mistake which allowed Jason Puncheon to score the only goal as the side slipped to another away defeat.
On 28 January 2014 Stoke did a deal with Cardiff City to exchange Kenwyne Jones for Peter Odemwingie. He started the next day against fellow relegation rivals Sunderland at the Stadium of Light as Stoke made a slow start which cost them as Adam Johnson capitalised on an error from the returning Asmir Begovic. Stoke pressed hard for an equaliser but their task was made harder when N'Zonzi was sent-off for two bookable offences and the Black Cats held on to condemn Stoke to another defeat.
Stoke endured a frustrating January transfer deadline day before they played Manchester United after deals for Lee Cattermole and Jonathan Pitroipa fell through. Hughes gave Odemwingie his home debut and decided to change formation to 4-4-2 for the visit of David Moyes' Manchester United who had the trio of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata playing together for the first time. The Red Devils suffered two defensive injuries in the first half as Jonny Evans and Phil Jones went off injured. Stoke took the lead on 38 minutes after Charlie Adam's long-range free-kick deflected in off Michael Carrick. Robin van Persie scored in his eighth consecutive match against the Potters just after half time before Adam scored his second goal with a powerful shot. Stoke had chances to extend their lead but were thankful to Asmir Begovic for saving a late Rooney free-kick and earn Stoke their first league win over Manchester United since 1984.
Stoke then took on Southampton at St. Marys on 8 February. The Saints scored early on as Rickie Lambert curled in a free-kick from a tight angle. Stoke pulled level on 38 minutes as good build up play led to Adam's through ball sending Odemwingie through one-on-one which he dispatched to score his first Stoke goal. However Southampton went back in front straight away as a Steven Davis cross missed everyone and ended up in the goal. Crouch converted a Charlie Adam corner just before half-time. The second half saw both sides cancel each other out and the match ended in a 2–2 draw.
On 12 February Stoke faced fellow relegation rivals Swansea at the Britannia which was played despite strong winds. The Swans arrived in buoyant mood after they beat their local rivals Cardiff 3–0 under new manager Garry Monk. Stoke scored first through Crouch after Odewingie's shot hit the post however Swansea were the better team afterwards and levelled just after half time through Chico Flores. Wilfried Bony almost won the game late on but his shot was cleared off the line by Ryan Shawcross as Stoke were thankful to come away with a point.
Stoke ended February with a tough trip to title favourites Manchester City and despite putting in a spirited performance Stoke fell to a single goal from Yaya Touré.
Stoke began a potential season defining month with a visit from title challengers Arsenal. The match saw little clear goalscoring opportunities for either side in the first half with Stoke playing brighter in the second half. They missed chances through Cameron and Crouch before Laurent Koscielny handled in the area and Walters scored the resulting penalty kick. Yaya Sanogo wasted Arsenal's best chance to pull level and Stoke held out for the three points. There was some bad news for Stoke after the match as Charlie Adam was given a retrospective three-match ban for an incident with Olivier Giroud.
The Potters made the long trip to Norwich on 8 March and squandered two early chances to take the lead with Crouch and Walters both causing the Norwich defence problems. The Canaries made Stoke pay for their missed chances with Bradley Johnson scoring just after half time. Stoke were awarded a penalty when Sébastien Bassong brought down substitute John Guidetti and Walters fired the ball past 'keeper John Ruddy. However Walters was then sent-off for the first time in his career after a high challenge on Alexander Tettey and despite some late Norwich pressure Stoke were able to hang on for a point.
Stoke then faced West Ham on 15 March looking to complete the double over the Hammers but made a poor start to the match with Andy Carroll heading in after just four minutes. Stephen Ireland almost responded instantly for Stoke, forcing Adrián into a diving save. Stoke levelled on 30 minutes after Ireland's corner was headed onto the crossbar by Crouch and his rebound deflected in off Odemwingie. In an eventful second period Kevin Nolan had a goal disallowed for West Ham before goals from Arnautovic and a powerful strike from Odemwingie earned Stoke a 3–1 victory lifting them to 11th position.
For a second week running Stoke were looking for another double this time over Midlands rivals Aston Villa. Stoke made a slow start and fell behind after five minutes after slack defending by Geoff Cameron allowed Fabian Delph to cross to Christian Benteke for a simple goal. Stoke came back strongly and levelled after good link up play between Odemwingie and Crouch. Soon after Crouch converted Pieters cut back and it got better for Stoke as after a sustained period of possession ended with N'Zonzi firing in a third just before half time. Villa tried and failed to get back to the contest after the break and Stoke sealed an emphatic 4–1 victory in the 90th minute with Cameron firing past Brad Guzan after great wing play by Arnautovic.
Stoke ended a successful month with a home match against Steve Bruce's Hull City. The Tigers were very well organised and goal scoring chances were rare. It took a mistake from Hull to break the deadlock as Ahmed Elmohamady's cross field ball was intercepted by Odemwingie who ran at the Hull defence and fired a low shot past Steve Harper to earn Stoke a 1–0 win and move them on to 40 points.
Stoke's five game unbeaten run came to an end at Chelsea on 5 April win a 3–0 defeat. Goals from Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah, Frank Lampard, and Willian earned the Blues a straight forward victory.
Stoke maintained their good home record after beating Newcastle United 1–0 on 12 April. The only goal of the match came just before half-time after Erik Pieters attempted cross deceived Newcastle 'keeper Tim Krul. Stoke had chances to extend their lead after the break but poor finishing enabled Newcastle to stay in the game and they almost scored through Vurnon Anita but his header was off target.
The Potters then travelled to relegation threatened Cardiff City for what was Stoke's first league fixture at the Cardiff City Stadium. The Bluebirds made the better start with Mats Møller Dæhli setting up Jordon Mutch but his shot was poor. Stoke almost scored via a counterattack through Odemwingie but David Marshall produced a fine diving save. Just before half time Stoke were awarded a penalty after Odemwingie was pushed over by Kim Bo-Kyung and Marko Arnautovic beat Marshall. Just after half time Cardiff were then given a penalty which was dispatched by Peter Whittingham. Cardiff through they took the lead when Juan Cala scored but after a lengthy delay it was ruled out for offside. Stoke had chances to win the match with Assasidi and Walters going close but the match ended in a 1–1 draw.
For the penultimate home match of the season against Tottenham Stoke were looking to record five home wins in a row for the first time in the Premier League. They were left disappointed however as a solitary goal from Danny Rose earned Spurs the three points. It was frustrating match for Stoke as Ryan Shawcross was sent-off for two bookable offences whilst goalscorer Rose avoided a red card for pushing Geoff Cameron.
The final home match of the season saw Stoke come up against Felix Magath's Fulham side who went into the match knowing that they needed to win in order to avoid relegation. Stoke dominated the match from the start and after squandering numerous chances they eventually went in from just before half time through Odemwingie despite the best efforts of Dan Burn. The second half saw no change to the pattern of play and Stoke added to the score with goals from Arnautovic and Assaidi before Kieran Richardson pulled a goal back for the Cottagers. Matthew Etherington came off the bench to play his final match for the club before Walters made it 4–1 and condemn Fulham to the Championship. The result moved Stoke onto 47 points equalling their best tally in the Premier League which was set in the 2009–10 season. The result also earned Stoke title of best placed team in the Midlands for the first time in their history.
Stoke's final match of the 2013–14 season was against Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns. Stoke won the match 2–1 with an own goal from Gareth McAuley and a late Charlie Adam strike earned Stoke the three points and saw them end the season in 9th position with 50 points. It completed Stoke's best season in the Premier League and their best finish since the 1974–75 season and Mark Hughes stated that the team had achieved what they set out to do.
Source: Barclays Premier League Official League Table
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored (C) = Champion; (R) = Relegated; (P) = Promoted; (E) = Eliminated; (O) = Play-off winner; (A) = Advances to a further round.
Championship side Leicester City were Stoke's opponents in the third round of the FA Cup and the Potters progressed 2–1 with goals from Kenwyne Jones and Charlie Adam whilst David Nugent scored for Leicester. Stoke were drawn away at Chelsea in the fourth round where were knocked out 1–0 with the Brazilian Oscar scoring the only goal of the match.
In the fourth round Stoke faced Birmingham City at St Andrews in what was a thrilling cup tie. Stoke took the lead through a long range strike from Oussama Assaidi before Tom Adeyemi powered through the Stoke defence to pull Birmingham level. Just before half time Birmingham were reduced to 10-men as Wade Elliott was sent off for striking Assaidi in the face. Stoke looked to have taken full advantage with goals from Crouch and Arnautović giving them a 3–1 lead. But Blues substitute Peter Løvenkrands scored twice in the final five minutes to send the tie to extra time. Kenwyne Jones then rounded 'keeper Colin Doyle to put Stoke back in front but again it was not enough as Oliver Lee found the net after some woeful Stoke defending. The penalty shoot-out was a much more straight forward affair as Birmingham missed their first two while Stoke scored all theirs to progress to the fifth round. After the match Stoke's performance was criticised by captain Ryan Shawcross. Stoke's run in the competition was ended by Manchester United who won the match 2–0 with goals from Ashley Young and Patrice Evra.