Can Stoke City's Saido Berahino End His Goal Drought Against The Team Where It All Started?

Can Stoke City's Saido Berahino End His Goal Drought Against The Team Where It All Started?
14:31, 24 Nov 2017

The world was a simpler place on 27th February 2016. Danish pop band Lukas Graham (who?) were top of the British music charts, Donald Trump was just another angry white man and Saido Berahino was scoring what turned out to be the winning goal as West Bromwich Albion beat Crystal Palace 3-2. Unfortunately, only one of those aforementioned three have gone on to bigger and better things in their careers as Lukas Graham and Saido Berahino are trying to remember the formula for their brief, past success.

This Saturday will mark the 637th day since Berahino's last goal at The Hawthorns and his last goal at any level of professional football - an eye watering 2,159 minutes of playing time without finding the net - and the striker will be eyeing the chance to finally end his goal drought when his current side, Stoke City, take on the team he last scored against, Crystal Palace, in the Premier League this weekend.

The stock of the forward has never been lower as he struggles to get back to the form that saw him bang in fourteen goals for West Bromwich Albion during the 2014/15 campaign, a season which warranted his first call-up to an England squad for the 2016 European Championship qualifier with Slovenia. An international breakthrough never materialised though as his England 'career' has been limited to two games on the bench as an unused substitute and the proposed move to a "bigger" club that he craved at domestic level fell through in the summer of 2015.

Tottenham made a bid of £22m for Berahino as Mauricio Pochettino wanted attacking reinforcements but West Brom rejected the offer in pursuit of their asking price of £25m, prompting Berahino to state that he would never play for the Baggies again while Jeremy Peace was owner. 

The striker did return to the fold at The Hawthorns as he obviously struck in the win over Crystal Palace in 2016 but nineteen months of toil have followed as the 24-year-old has missed three penalties in the Premier League since last finding the back of the net, while last January's move to Stoke City hasn't provided the fillip it was supposed to.

Berahino signed for The Potters for £12m but he has struggled to justify the fee or his £70,000-a-week wages during a difficult spell under Mark Hughes, who has limited the player to just 21 appearances, including ten from the bench, during 2017.

Hughes doesn't feel he can rely on the striker at this stage and Berahino has fallen behind the likes of Eric Maxim Choupo Moting (three goals this season), Mame Biram Diouf (three), Peter Crouch (three) and Jese Rodriguez (one) in the battle for a place in attack. None of those strikers are prolific and this weekend would be a good time for Berahino to remind his manager, who denied rumours that he was interested in signing Watford's former striker Odion Ighalo, of his talents.

It bodes well that Berahino has scored three goals in six previous league appearances against Crystal Palace in his career and it would be ironic if he were to strike against the Eagles, the team against whom he last scored and who are of course now managed by Roy Hodgson - the man who gave Berahino his first England call-up - on Saturday. 

Stoke City are next in action at Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon (Kick-Off 3pm BST).

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