Match Report: Stoke 0-1 Bournemouth
Stoke’s unbeaten run in the Premier League finally came to the end with the 1-0 loss to Bournemouth at the bet365 Stadium. Nathan Ake’s header midway through the first half was somehow the only goal of the game, with the home side having countless chances to equalise. No more so than Bojan’s penalty, which he won at the start of the second half; however he couldn’t convert it and it was a sign of things to come for the Potters.
Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic came back into the side following injury and suspension retrospectively, displacing Jon Walters and Ramadan who both made the bench. Glenn Whelan was injured playing for Ireland during the international break, so Bojan earned a starting place following his goal at the London Stadium last time out. Glen Johnson made the bench, the first time he made the squad since being injured following his England call-up. Giannelli Imbula also made the bench after his exile in recent weeks.
It was Bournemouth who started the game the brighter team. Callum Wilson, making his comeback from the injury that he sustained during his last outing in Stoke-on-Trent, was the biggest danger by using his pace to get in behind the defence. One particular Bournemouth break led to Josh King, who once scored a hat-trick against Stoke, have a shot with only the goalkeeper to beat. Thankfully, Lee Grant continued his marvellous form and turned the shot away excellently. The Bournemouth pressure eventually came off, they won a contentious free kick in a dangerous area and the ball was whipped into the six yards box. Nathan Ake was there to climb high above Stoke’s zonal marking and crash his header home to give the Cherries the lead. At the time, it was well deserved.
Following the goal, however, the game was dominated by Stoke pressure and chances. Shaqiri took a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area, it was almost too close to the goal as the ball didn’t have enough time to dip under the crossbar after clearing the wall and it went out for a goal kick. Ryan Shawcross had a header from a corner that managed to find the target, but it was cleared spectacularly off the line by a Bournemouth player. Arnautovic played a wonderful cross in towards Wilfried Bony, however the latter didn’t connect with the ball – he probably would have scored if he did with the goal at his mercy.
The second half got to a flying start, Bojan picked up the ball in the penalty area and was actually running away from goal when he was hacked down by a Bournemouth body, the referee awarded a spot kick and, with that, a lifeline for Stoke to get back into the game. Bojan deliberated at length with Bony about who should take the penalty, with the former winning the debate. Bony will feel like it should have been him, as the Spaniard whacked the ball against the crossbar. The biggest chance of the game flashed by, and 27,000 Stokies fell silent.
Stoke licked their wounds and went on the hunt once again for the equalising goal; and there were plenty of chances to boot. Bojan took a shot from around 30 yards out that blazed over the crossbar. Xherdan Shaqiri collected the ball 12 yards out following a teasing ball from Arnautovic, but he spooned his effort well over too. Shaqiri returned the favour and sent a delicious ball for Marko, however his shot from the edge of the box didn’t trouble Adam Federici in the Bournemouth goal at all. In the midst of all of this, Phil Bardsley went down injured and was replaced by Glen Johnson; Wilfried Bony made way for Peter Crouch and Bojan was removed from play and Jon Walters moved into a more centre-forward role. And it was the Irishman who had Stoke’s biggest chance from open play of the match: Charlie Adam sent in a sensational cross and it left both Walters and Crouch in behind the Cherries’ defence with just Federici to beat. Walters was the one who connected and looked certain to score, but he couldn’t fire either side of the Bournemouth goalkeeper and spurned what turned out to be the final chance of the game.
Stoke had more than enough chances to win the game today and it was a lack of finishing that was mostly to blame for their demise. It wasn’t a question of tactical ineptitude, but it’s worrying how very little trouble the Bournemouth goal suffered despite having the majority of the ball and the chances. However, a certain amount of this can come down to a lack of fortune and, on another day, Stoke would have turned this game on it’s head as Bournemouth seemed there for the taking after the first 20 minutes. There were plenty of encouraging signs ahead of next week’s game against Watford, a place where Stoke will look to win just as comfortably as they did last season at Vicarage Road. It’s no good looking back and feeling sorry for ourselves today, it’s time to look ahead once again to a winnable fixture and hope that the Potters can be a little more clinical.
We couldn’t score past Bournemouth: you could say we didn’t pop our Cherry.
Lee Grant: 5 – one great save but his kicking seemed quite off today.
Phil Bardsley: 5 – struggled to deal with opposition’s pace, got injured, subbed off
Ryan Shawcross: 5 – didn’t deal with Bournemouth pressure in the first 20
Bruno Martins Indi: 6 – looked the most solid of the four at the back
Erik Pieters: 6 – some decent attacking but, like the rest, struggled in the first 20
Joe Allen: 6 – not quite as effective in his new defensive role
Charlie Adam: 6 – decent attacking display, poor in defense
Xherdan Shaqiri: 6 – created some nice chances but poor finishing
Bojan: 5 – missed a penalty and spurned a few chances
Marko Arnautovic: 6 – again created chances but didn’t test the goal
Wilfried Bony: 5 – another poor game for him, not taking enough opportunities
Glen Johnson (30 mins): 5 – good to see him back but didn’t influence much
Peter Crouch (20 mins): 6 – encouraged Stoke to attack more, but didn’t have an impact
Jon Walters (15 mins): 5 – missed a very clear cut chance, not much else to report
Written by Ben Rowley
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