Stoke manager Tony Pulis believes the addition of experience to an already talented but young defence has made his side even more formidable at the back.
The Potters have kept an incredible six clean sheets in remaining unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions this season. Pulis puts much of their success down to the influence of summer free transfers Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson, aged 31 and 32 respectively with 29 England caps between them.
"(Asmir) Begovic and (Ryan) Shawcross are exceptionally good players," said Pulis. "Last year we maybe lacked a bit of experience and Upson and Woodgate have got the experience we didn't have. I think one of the reasons we have done so well is we have had that cool experience at the back."
He added: "The big difference has been having a Woodgate or an Upson at the heart of defence.
"We have Asmir and Ryan, two outstanding young players, right in the middle of defence and sometimes you need a cool head, that experienced one who can talk and both Woodgate and Upson are good talkers.
"We have benefited so far from having one of them in that slot."
Pulis has had nothing but praise for Woodgate and Upson since their arrival in the summer, stressing they had quickly grasped the club's ethos.
"They have come into a club that is maybe a little bit different to where they have worked before - it is not as big as Tottenham or West Ham in some respects but it is a good club," he added.
"On Saturday Jonathan wanted to play (in the victory over Liverpool) and we pulled him out because we didn't think he was in the right order.
"He might have picked up an injury in the game which would keep him out for a few weeks and we didn't want that. Hopefully he will play a lot of games in the Premier League this season."
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