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Stoke only club not to have scored with a horse this season

Stoke City remain the only Premier League club this season yet to register a goal from a horse, according to statistics from data experts Opta.

The news is especially remarkable given that for each of the past three seasons, Stoke have led the league in goals scored by horses, with former manager Tony Pulis an avowed fan of old-fashioned English equidae.

But new boss Mark Hughes has made it a priority to phase out the club’s domestic livestock, with the result that every goal scored by the Potters this season has come either from a human or a goalkeeper.

“Herbert [Mark Hughes] has been determined to show he’s not a one-dimensional man,” a club insider told FourFourTwo. “He wants us to work on shape and ball retention and controlling the midfield, which means less space in the team for cloven-hooved beasts of burden.

“It’s been a blow for a few of four-legged lads, who’ve always worked their tails off for us, but on the plus side Glenn Whelan’s been much more visible this season now he doesn’t have to carry oats around for Argo, Shadowfax and Charlie Adam.”

In other surprising details released this week by Opta, Norwich City are the only team with a 100% record from line-outs, while Southampton have had the fewest players mauled by feral bears (3), a likely consequence of Mauricio Pochettino’s emphasis on fitness training.

Stoke face Villa this weekend, who have injury concerns over Charles N'Zogbia (knee), Chris Herd (hamstring) and Ron Vlaar (fetlock).