Match Review: Stoke City V Crystal Palace

Much like a three year-old toddler with a crayon and a colouring book, neither Stoke or Crystal Palace could keep within the lines today. The game was as stop start as a traffic jam on the a500, and we all know that burden.

There was a generic thought throughout the stadium today, it was that the game against Big Sam’s men was either going to be an eight goal thriller, or a 0-0 draw. Thankfully Joe Allen decided otherwise.

Mark Hughes finally started Ramadan Sobhi on the left forcing Arnautovic to play on the right with Affellay benched, Shaqiri still not fit. Phil Bardsley came in for the semi-injured Glen Johnson although Johnson did manage to make the bench. Charlie Adam and Glen Whelan continued their fine partnership in the hole with Erik Pieters and Lee Grant keeping their place in the starting eleven.

The game started with Stoke kicking right to left, and that’s where the ball stayed for the majority of the first half, over in the left. Palace didn’t look set up to win, with a five at the back system in place.

Crystal Palace were pinned back and dug in well, neat play down the right hand side between man of the match Arnautovic and Phil Bardsley was the source of most our chances. An early chance fell to Joe Allen with a cross finding him unmarked but he couldn’t direct his header under the bar.

Mark Hughes continued to repay his trust in Peter Crouch starting him up top and the big man keeps taking his chances, you’ve got to be doing something right at 36 to keep your new £15 million pound man on the bench.

Crouch worked well with Allen throughout the game who looked at points to be playing up top with Crouch, maybe a foreshadow of what’s to come with Saido Berahino? Who knows, I just write the reviews.

The goal came in the second half, just when fans started to think that the 0-0 result was coming. Arnautovic played a delightful ball in for Sobhi who showed composure and strength to hold-off the centre half laying the ball into Joe Allens feet, he took a touch past the defender and finished it calmly into the bottom left of the goal. 1-0.

After the goal Stoke controlled the game, referee Martin Atkinson didn’t put a foot wrong all game, not that he had anything else to do apart from listen to Wilfred Zaha moan.

Ibrahim Affellay came on in his preferred position, centre midfield and his performance showed us why he converted to a playmaker in the first place, he took control of the midfield, pressed their back four and made sure the three points came Stoke’s way.

Phil Bardsley came off injured not long after with what looked to be a muscle strain and Bruno Martins-Indi took a knock after he tried to outmuscle Benteke, not a good idea if you’re thinking about getting revenge on his behalf.

Good news however is that Glen Johnson looks to be fully fit, Geoff Cameron is back and our new-boy Berahino is getting sharper by the second.

All-in-all a solid, gritty, decent performance saw Stoke take all three points in a game that could have gone either way. One thing we all know for sure though…

We’ll still be last on Match of the Day.

Jordan Cleaver

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