Well I am sat here reporting on another loss full of anguish, no explanations or excuses about this defeat will wash in my view. Too much has gone on before last night for me to have any degree of tolerance, now it is about results not performances. Mark Hughes will take us down, act now Mr Coates or start to lose credibility yourself. For those who made the trip up to Burnley on a bitterly cold December night – well fair play to you. It took me 3 hours to get there owing to the terrible traffic on the M60 and M65. I sometimes struggle to explain what makes me keep putting myself through it. I guess if its in your blood, its terminal I am afraid.
Last night was not an advert for Premier League football, it was a 90 minute scrap fest. Admittedly the conditions did not help with wind rain and snow all playing a part throughout the 90 minutes, however I did not see much quality from both sides. It was a battle, an evening when we needed players to show some bottle, roll their sleeves up and grind out a result at a tough away ground.
My duty is to write a succinct match report outlining the events.
However after todays debacle I am struggling to report on anything other than what we have become. A 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Spurs might not seem so bad in isolation, however that is just the point. Forgetting the fact the three previous Stoke v Spurs matches have all finished 4-0, the last 12 months have been dire. Today enough was enough for many.
The first large scale ” Hughes out ” chants rained down from the away section at Wembley Stadium as our goal average took another shocking hit. A video just released on Twitter too of Stoke fans chanting at our players ” Your not fit to wear the shirt ” is starting to go viral. The mood has become toxic, make no mistake, we stink of relegation right now and something has to give.
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.
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.
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.
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
If you’ve just watched that game you’re probably either now drinking heavily, or meditating depending on what type of person you are. That was the definition of a nervy game.
What a point however, Ryan Shawcross take a bow. For anybody questioning our defensive capabilities this season, you have officially been silenced. Marc Wilson eat your heart out.
Stoke City love wingers. Whether it’s Matthew Etherington, Stanley Matthews, Liam Lawrence or even Ryan Shotton at times. That’s if Tony Pulis was feeling that extra bit defensive. But since the early years of the Premier League we haven’t really had two wingers that we can rely on every week.
Well now Stoke finally can. Marko Arnautovic and Ramadan Sobhi fit the bill wonderfully. Who’d thought I’d ever say that with a player like Shaqiri on our roster?
Not only have Stoke lost 4-0 against Spurs, but Manchester United have just won the EFL cup. Not the best Sunday for Stoke City fans.
Sky Sports Mix hosted the Stoke game today; a rare television appearance for the Potters suggested a big performance could be on the cards. Geoff Cameron made the bench after a long stint out-injured and surely Berahino would step-up sooner or later. Mark Hughes kept his faith in Peter Crouch upfront, Sobhi continued on the left and Charlie Adam remained holding midfielder, just a few days after his wife gave birth. However, his happiness was short lived, thanks to a certain English Striker who goes by the name of Harry Kane.
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.