Match Review: Stoke City 2-1 Swansea

A very nervy afternoon at the Bet 365 but a huge 3 points nonetheless. This wasn’t particularly pretty but the lads got the job done. A feeling of relief at the final whistle was widespread such was the importance of this result.

Mark Hughes had opted for a 4-4-2 formation selecting Bruno Martins Indi in the centre of defence and dropping the unconvincing  Wimmer to the bench. Zouma slotted in at right back and Diouf started as a centre forward alongside Peter Crouch. Oh and Jack Butland was recalled replacing Lee Grant following his speedy recovery from a broken finger. This was a positive formation and pretty much what most people had been calling for.

Match Review: Stoke City 0-3 Liverpool

Make no mistake, it is hard work watching the Potters right now. Results are not going our way, supporter unrest, calls for the Managers head and now a heavy home defeat on a freezing cold night at the Bet 365. A 3-0 defeat to Liverpool has left me feeling very hard done by as the scoreline certainly does not reflect the 90 minutes that I saw.

Despite calls for a change of system following a defeat at Crystal Palace, our under fire Gaffer stuck with the wing backs and 3 defenders. However this time he recalled Bruno Martins-Indi into the centre of defence at the expense of Wimmer. Peter Crouch was to start up front.

Player Ratings- Crystal Palace

Lee Grant – 6

One stand out save in the first half but left with no chance for both goals.

Mame Diouf – 5

Useless going forward after getting himself in good positions but did nothing with it. Didn’t do enough to stop the cross coming in that ended up with Palace scoring.

Match Review: Crystal Palace 2-1 Stoke City

I still haven’t got over it. In fact, I feel really bitter, angry and will use this forum to vent a little bit. How we managed to lose that game yesterday I still don’t know. In fact I cannot remember coming away from a game feeling as incensed as that for a long time.

Crystal Palace were there for the taking but if you defend like we keep defending then you are always going to be in trouble. The stats don’t lie – we have conceded 26 goals in just 13 games, more than any other team apart from West Ham who have also conceded 26. Oh and they have sacked their Manager you know.

The first half wasn’t a particularly impressive watch for the neutral but from a Stoke perspective, I felt we were in control. Palace didn’t offer much and if anyone was going to score it was us. That said, we didn’t really do enough to get the all important goal despite the territorial advantage.

A Tactics Stick Or Twist

We now have joint worse ‘goals against’ tally in the Premier League, having conceded 26 goals in 13 matches. Crystal Palace continued the awful stat of an average conceding rate at two goals per game; and yet I find myself scratching my head and thinking has it really only been 26?

The Premier League this season has been full of goals, this is partly due to the ‘big teams’ turning up this year, and we certainly felt that against Manchester City. However, the new craze that has swept the Premier League has left most teams now playing wing backs in a back three or back five, depending on how defensive or offensive the team has set up . Mark Hughes set this formation up early on in pre-season and made it clear that this was the formation he wanted to start the season with. The big question now is, why has this formation failed so badly? Or is it a work in progress?

Pre-match Preview: Crystal Palace

Well I’ve only just recovered from my Brighton jollies only to get back on the road just 5 days later. Indeed games are now coming thick and fast as we enter a critical few weeks of the season.

It is also another long journey, this time to South London to play Crystal Palace. Google maps advises the quickest road journey to be some 176 miles taking 4 hours and 13 mins via the M4. Obviously the free official coaches are the best value but if you can afford it, I would  recommend the train. Stoke to London Euston (1 hr 30 mins), the underground to Victoria (using the Victoria Line (blue) – 15 mins), before catching another train to either Selhurst, Thornton Heath or Norwood Junction (15 mins).

Match Preview with The Eagles Beak

Looking forward to our match with Palace this weekend we spoke to Sam from The Eagles Beak.

1. Going into this current season, we’re you excited with de Boer at the helm?

A. It was great. We had a legendary former Dutch international in charge, a disciple of Johan Cruyff’s ‘total football’ methods. We were promised a more aesthetic style of football and a summer overhaul. We were going the whole season unbeaten and de Boer was already on course to have his own statue in the car park outside the main stand. We got ahead of ourselves.

Player Ratings – Brighton

Lee Grant – 5

Poor for Brighton’s first when just falling to the ground, rarely called into action otherwise.

Mame Diouf – 5

Was nowhere to be seen when Izquierdo was running at us, got the ball into decent positions going forward but did nothing with it.

Match Review – Brighton 2-2 Stoke City

The next stop on the road – a Monday night in cosmopolitan, diverse Brighton on a dreary November evening. The game was anything but as this was a good football match, certainly for the neutral. I enjoyed it and I’m sure the Sky Sports viewers did too. That said, I cannot help feel that this was two points dropped. We were the better side with better players and had we eliminated some mistakes, I have no doubt that we’d have taken all of the points.

We started the brighter, dominated possession and subsequently got our just deserts on 28 minutes. Xherdan Shaqiri conjured a sublime piece of skill to find the unmarked Eric Choupo-Moting and the big man did the rest by sticking the ball into the proverbial onion bag. It was certainly no more than we deserved, thus it was incredibly frustrating when we allowed Brighton back into the game on the stroke of half time. Pascal Gross levelled the scores following a close range shot that seemed to go straight through Lee Grant. Grant who now finds himself back in the spotlight following Jacks finger injury should have saved it, Jack would have done.


It could (and should) have indeed been worse had our Captains clumsy challenge on Brighton’s Glenn Murray been penalised with a penalty. Ryan Shawcross does have his critics, I am a big fan still but those kind of moments can cost you points. Lets be brutally honest here, he has some form for it. Nevertheless we managed to quickly restore our lead in the second minute of added time. Big Kurt Zouma won the battle in a six yard scrap enabling him to head home. Zouma looks some player to me, powerful, pacey – definitely better than Gary Cahill. We’ve done well to get him.

The second half was a bit more evenly balanced, in fact I’d go as far to say Brighton shaded it. They probed and eventually pegged us back again on the hour. This time a player called Izquierdo scored from close range. I had never heard of him before owing to my blatant ignorance of all things Brighton and Hove Albion. I’m too engrossed in Stoke City you see.

On 73 minutes Crouchy entered the fray replacing the fantastic Shaqiri  – a substitution that totally baffled me. Not the fact Crouch came on but the fact our best player went off. Have I missed something here ?  “ “ Everywhere we go, he’s six seven tall, Peter Crouch will score “ they said. Unfortunately not tonight as an enjoyable game ended 2-2 and a share of the spoils.

Two points dropped ? Yes it feels like that for me. I debated this with a fellow supporter on exiting the fine Ammex Stadium. We ended the discussion on a positive – an away point is never a disaster in the cut throat business that is the Premier League. And with that, off I went to guzzle some more fizzy lager late into the Brighton night.

Brighton indeed is a fun place. Plenty of boozers, good transport links and the Stokies were in good voice which made for an enjoyable trip. It’s Tuesday morning and I’m currently typing this on a busy train as I head back to Stoke on Trent. Nursing my customary hangover, I’m already looking forward to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Written by James Lockley – @Countydog

Pre-match Preview – Brighton

Monday 20th November 2017 – Brighton and Hove Albion v Stoke City.
Since gaining promotion from the Championship last season Brighton will be delighted with their start to life in the Premier League. They currently sit in 8th position having amassed 15 points from their first 11 fixtures. Their gaffer Chris Hughton is clearly doing a great job as they look to add to their current 4 game unbeaten run.
A player to watch is a 34 year old centre forward called Glenn Murray who has netted 4 times in the last 3 games – his last coming in a 1-0 away victory at Swansea. Having watched Brighton destroy West Ham recently (on Sky) at the Olympic Stadium, they appear very well organised defensively and are clearly grafting hard as a team. We will certainly need to be on our game if we are to come away with a positive result.