Match Review: Stoke 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Stoke have been embarrassed yet again in the Premier League following their latest thumping courtesy of Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon. Heung-Min Son bagged a brace with Dele Alli and Harry Kane contributing equally to the four goals that their team managed to fire past a, quite frankly, inept Stoke side. It’s a repeat of the result in the corresponding fixture back in April of last season and there’s been no sign of improvement from the Potters, despite having a Summer to recover and a transfer window to strengthen. Once again, refereeing controversy surrounded Stoke once again and Mark Hughes was sent to the stands as a result of his displeasure.
Shay Given kept his place in goal with Jack Butland recovering from his operation on his long-term injury. Geoff Cameron replaced Phil Bardsley on the right side of defence with new signing Bruno Martins Indi plugging the Philipp Wollscheid sized gap. The midfield three of Glenn Whelan, Joe Allen and Giannelli Imbula started again as they did against Everton. Jon Walters replaced Mame Diouf on the right wing with Wilfried Bony, on loan from Manchester City, was picked ahead of Peter Crouch up top.
Stoke started the game brightly with some good combinations early on and Stoke found themselves with the ball in the back of the net courtesy of Arnautovic, however the flag for offside was raised long before Marko finished off a positive move. Whelan also had a chance from a corner after the ball dropped to him on the edge of the area: he struck a quite spectacular strike toward goal on the volley but a Spurs body managed to get in the way and denied Whelan’s first goal in years.
Then Stoke were fell victim to yet another controversial refereeing decision deep into the first half. Arnautovic resorted to flinging his body around a Spurs defender, rather than clatter together, and the referee saw fit to book the Austrian for diving; despite Son winning a free kick for his side at the other end of the field in a similar situation. Mark Hughes was so incensed with the decision, along with a few other questionable calls, that he talked himself into trouble and got himself sent to the stands. It clearly was a big blow to the players as five minutes later Stoke found themselves behind. Christian Eriksen skimmed Joe Allen on the right wing and sent a low cross into an unmarked Son who smashed the ball through the centre of the goal and give his team the lead at half time.
The second half begun with a chorus of boos from the Stoke fans to greet Anthony Taylor back onto the field and, after his signal to restart the game, Stoke had the half’s first chance… and it was a big one! Ryan Shawcross found himself with the ball at his feet following a corner and opted to try and scoop the ball toward the corner of the goal; however, when it looked harder to miss, Shawcross hit the ball past the far post and harmlessly away for a goal kick.
But it was Spurs who took their chance once again and Son doubled his and his team’s tally. The away side had a counter attack following a Stoke corner and outnumbered their retreating opponents in the attacking third. Eriksen found Son once again, this time on the left wing, and the Korean hit the ball first time and glided a curling effort on goal which deceived Given enough to evade his extended arm. It’s another all too familiar example of Stoke being caught on the break having had a good opportunity themselves at the other end of the field.
Three minutes later, Spurs had another goal and this time it was courtesy of Dele Alli: Kyle Walker found his compatriot with ease who only needed to guide the ball toward the gaping goal, which he did and killed all hope of Stoke getting back into the game. It threatened a repeat performance of the one back in April and Stoke were just as poor in the second half to replicate that. The copy was fulfilled moments later as Harry Kane managed to get two bites of the cherry from three yards out following to crosses across the face of goal. An unmarked Kane had the time and space to take a touch in front of Given before his second completed Stoke’s humiliation. Once again the game petered out into a boring affair which saw the stadium only half full when the final whistle blew, and those that stayed weren’t showing their appreciation either.
Another game without a clean sheet, another game without a win and another game where Stoke didn’t appear to be able to contest with their opponents, let alone appear on top and dominating. The Mark Hughes sending off epitomises the frustration and lack of discipline within the Stoke ranks at the moment as the players don’t seem to be giving 100% to win football matches. Certain players are being carried in this side at the moment and the Potters are suffering from the absences of some of the squad’s best assets. There are positive sign at times and Stoke have been handed a very difficult start to the Premier League season; but I personally don’t think that Stoke should be losing any game 4-0 and certainly not doing so on a consistent basis. There needs to be a major shake up within the team now as it’s clear that the transfer window hasn’t solved most of the problems that Stoke have been having. There have been plenty of varied suggestions from the fans about how the manager should approach the next game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. But ultimately it is up to Mark Hughes and, hopefully, he’ll be on the touchline next week trying to encourage his team to their first League victory of the season.
Sorry the report is late, I was drowning my sorrows post-match. Can you blame me?
Given: 5 – Left exposed but dealth with some goals poorly
Cameron: 4 – Constantly out of position, victim of tactics it seems
Shawcross: 5 – Missed chances from corners & poor defending in own box
Martins Indi: 5 Decent debut but had much to learn
Pieters: 4 – As poor as Cameron for equal reasons
Whelan: 5 – Didn’t perform defensive duties well enough
Allen: 6 – Wonderful (and effective) work rate but poor passing at times
Imbula: 5 – Improving but hasn’t hit the heights he did in February
Walters: 5 – Ineffective on the right wing
Bony: 6 – Decent chance creation despite being wholly hung out to dry
Arnautovic: 6 – Best attacking threat, that’s not saying much though
Bojan (25 mins): 6 – Improved the side when he came on, but didn’t help much
Adam (20 mins): 4 – Had a shot, but extremely poor cameo otherwise
Written by Ben Rowley
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