Match Review: Crystal Palace 4-1 Stoke
Stoke fell to the mercy of yet another four goal hammering, losing 4-1 to a rather ordinary Crystal Palace side. Two goals from set pieces courtesy of James Tomkins and Scott Dann in the first 15 minutes were followed by a deflected goal from James McArthur and a long range bender from Andros Townsend. Marko Arnautovic managed to provide a glimmer of positivity with his goal in the last minute of the game but overall the players, club and supporters should be very ashamed of the performance yet again. The effort from the side today doesn’t deserve a match report but you’re getting one anyway, lucky you…
Mark Hughes made some rather high profile changes to the side that played against Spurs last week. Erik Pieters, Stoke’s only recognised left back, was dropped for Glen Johnson. Johnson, playing his first game of football in over seven months, slotted in at right back, shifting Geoff Cameron into a central role and Bruno Martins Indi filled the vacancy on the left. It was also recognised that the midfield trio of Glenn Whelan, Joe Allen and Giannelli Imbula wasn’t performing optimally; it was the £18m man who was the casualty and in came Bojan to offer a little more support to Wilfried Bony, who was well isolated on his debut.
Crystal Palace started the brighter of the two teams and it was Glen Johnson who came to the rescue on a number of occasions to deny the home side from taking the lead earlier than they actually did. Palace managed to earn themselves a free kick in the opening ten minutes, the ball was swept into the box and James Tomkins managed to get on the end of it ahead of a scrambling Shay Given, who was probably guilty of not being brave enough to claim the ball before it reached the Palace centre back.
It took matter of minutes before Stoke fell victim to a second Palace set-piece. Jason Puncheon whipped in a corner and Scott Dann flew into the penalty area poorly marked and thundered his header straight through Given. It was a magnificently powerful header but once again Stoke should have dealt with the ball ahead of the shot. Both Palace centre backs had a goal within fifteen minutes of play and it looked like the same old Stoke.
Stoke were completely woeful for the entirety of the first half: their passing was incredibly loose, their defending barbaric and their creativity non-existent. Their only clear cut chance fell to Bony, he pressed the Palace back line into a mistake and put himself through on goal but the resulting shot from outside the area hopelessly rolled wide. The Potters were epitomised by a lovely Arnautovic cross from the left wing, but no Stoke player was there to make any use of it.
The second half begun and Stoke looked to turn around the game and repair the devastating first half damage. They did have a couple of chances very early on, both from set pieces similar to those that the home side capitalised from. Ryan Shawcross latched onto a corner with his head and diverted it toward the opposing goal, but Steve Mandanda was in the way of Stoke and a way back into the game. Martins Indi also had a chance when a free kick dropped to his feet just ten yards out but his shot hit a Palace player and went for a corner. This corner fell just in front of Shawcross yet again, but he couldn’t connect with the ball to cause any danger.
Palace managed to seal the result of the game midway through the second period: McArthur alluded a couple of Stoke defenders with a simple turn and hammer a shot toward goal. It took a deflection off Cameron and it was more than enough to evade Given and complete Stoke’s misery. Andros Townsend decided to fulfil the four goal prophecy shortly afterwards a bend a crisp strike around all defending Stoke players and leave Stoke, and anyone connected to them, embarrassed once again. Arnautovic decided to give the remaining away fans something to cheer when he produced a similar goal to Townsend’s with the final kick of the match, but it certainly wasn’t enough to paper over the widening cracks representing Stoke City’s woes.
Stoke City are at a crossroads, the most obvious since the end of Tony Pulis’ tenure. There’s enough evidence to suggest that Mark Hughes is no longer in control of his team, they’re shipping goals at a more than alarming rate, goals are a treat for fans to savour and Stoke sit rock bottom with their fans bored stiff and the hierarchy frustrated. But there must be hope that Hughes could possibly turn this around: he’s guided the Potters to consistent high placed finishes and we know what his teams are capable of. It’s split the fanbase down the middle and there’s a real fear that Stoke could be in for a massive redevelopment in the near future. It’ll be an interesting couple of weeks to say the least.
Next in the league: West Brom and Tony Pulis. Great…
Stoke: 0 – the lot of them.
Written by Ben Rowley
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