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.
Standing at six foot seven inches the only people Peter Crouch looked up at before playing against Everton was the famous 100 club. The 26 players past and present that have reached 100 premier league goals.
It took him just seven minutes, a magnificent ball over the top from Charlie Adam found Marko Arnautovic’s left wing run, he then prodded it across the goal finding that skinny outstretched leg and the rest was literally history. Peter Crouch’s 100th Premier League goal, our first striker to reach the landmark. 1-0 Stoke.
The game started brightly and Stoke outplayed Everton for the majority, with two glorious one on one situations for Arnautovic it could have been 3-0 before the break, but it wasn’t meant to be. Great runs from Charlie Adam, Bardsley and even Glen Whelan saw opportunities to increase the lead but the next goal had to be Everton’s. They had their own chances in the game, nothing worth talking about but the goal came against the run of play, not without it’s controversy of course. There’s always controversy when Stoke are involved.
The ball was played down the right channel to Kevin Mirallas, he cut inside and fired the ball in to the far corner, the ball deflected in off an evasive Shawcross sending Lee Grant the wrong way. Immediately the offside flag was raised and Stoke fans cheers swallowed up Everton fans noise, but the joy was short lived. After a brief conversation with the linesman the goal was given, Stoke had to go again.
Clever play by Charlie Adam, attempting his weekly half-way line challenge seemed to trouble Joel Robles for a second, the fans behind the goal on their feet waiting for the net to ripple but the theme of the night prevailed. It wasn’t meant to be.
Our new number nine got his moment too, replacing Arnautovic; Saido Berahino made his long awaited debut. Once again Charlie Adam lofted an inch perfect ball over the top finding his feet but impressive defending and lucky goalkeeping stopped a potential debut goal and the game ended soon after 1-1 the final score.
A point at home against a team which really should be emerging in to the top five of the Premier League isn’t too bad, but most fans seemed disappointed. Doesn’t that show you how far we have come in just a few years?
Stoke City 1-1 Everton
Stoke City have extended their unbeaten run after a 1-1 draw with Manchester United thanks to an own-goal from Juan Mata and a sensational free-kick from record breaking Wayne Rooney.
Rooney has now passed Sir Bobby Charlton in Man Utd’s all time top scorers with a wonderful free-kick beating Lee Grant at his far post.
The day started with the announcement of our new striker Saido Berahino walking on to the pitch poised with his new number nine jersey, giving the fans something to sing about before taking on Jose Mourihno’s Red Devil’s.
It was evident from the off that a big challenge was down Stoke’s left wing with Marko Arnautovic coming up against who Mourinho has stated, ‘the best right-back in football’, no not Andy Wilkinson for those of you reading this thinking maybe he has made a return, Antonio Valencia of course. The battle saw Arnautovic pick up a booking early on to the frustration of both fans and player alike.
The stage was set for Peter Crouch to continue his fine form and reach two milestones in one day, one being the first Potters striker to score in four consecutive games in the top flight, the other – his 100th goal, half of which have been headers.
He did have his chances, one a volley from 25 yards out, the other a rogue ball in the box late on in the game, what a story that would have been, however It wasn’t his day. Instead it panned out to be his former England teammates day, with an superb free-kick Wayne Rooney is now Manchester United’s all time top scorer with a massive 250 goals, a record all fans from any club can appreciate.
The Potters broke the deadlock after just 18 minutes of play, a cut back from Arnautovic found Erik Pieters in the box, his cross-ball then poked past David De Gea by a retreating Juan Mata. 1-0, and that’s the way it looked to finish as well.
The visitors tried to respond but man of the match Ryan Shawcross transformed his defence in to a brick wall, impressive tackles all round frustrated the Red Devil’s throughout the game, Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have bagged a brace if it wasn’t for a impressive centre half partnership forming with Bruno Martins-Indi forcing Utd back whenever they could.
Changes from both sides saw the likes of Rashford, Affellay, Rooney and youngster Julian N’goy come on to the pitch, but it was only Rooney’s day.
The free-kick came at the delight of all the tense travelling United fans as Rooney curled it sensationally past Lee Grant who hadn’t put a foot wrong all day. Full time, Stoke City 1-1 Manchester United.
This evening saw the under 18’s come up against Nottingham Forest in the FA Youth Cup. The game took place at the bet365 stadium and was watched live by 1,500 people on Stoke’s Facebook. Tyrese Campbell stole the show scoring a hattrick, leading the Potters to a 4-1 victory, progressing to the 5th round with a home tie to Brighton or Cambridge.
The Potters set up in a 3-5-2 and had the best of the first half. Right-Wing-Back Tom Edwards was the early driving force, making the most of some excellent balls over the back of the Forest back line. It only took the under 18’s 5 minutes to open the scoring, as man of the moment Tyrese Campbell flashed past his man and beautifully placed the ball into the bottom corner.
Stoke City crashed out of the FA Cup at the first opportunity due to a 2-0 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers at the bet365 Stadium. A pathetic first half from Stoke gave the opportunity for Wolves to takes the lead through Helder Costa and, despite a second half fight, a Matt Doherty free kick took the game from out of the Potters’ reach. The Wolves’ ‘keeper, Carl Ikeme, was outstanding during the second half and kept his side in the game with his dazzling performance; however there’s no argument that, with the side Mark Hughes fielded, you would expect a higher level of performance from those donning red and white.
Hughes reverted back to a four-man defence following the departure of Mame Diouf to the African Cup of Nations, the remaining members of the back line kept their places. Joe Allen, Charlie Adam and Jonathan Walters were chosen to be rested, leaving space for Xherdan Shaqiri, Giannelli Imbula, Ibrahim Afellay and Bojan to be recalled to the starting eleven. The latter has been calling for his manager to give him more game time if he wants Bojan to stay at the club. This was a chance to stake his claim for the next few fixtures with injuries and international duty continuing to take it’s toll on the squad.
Stoke managed to secure their first double of the 2016/17 season at the first opportunity after beating Watford 2-0 at the bet365 Stadium on a cold Tuesday night. Ryan Shawcross volleyed his side into the lead at the end of an extremely uneventful first half and Peter Crouch tapped in from close range minutes into the second half. It was Stoke’s first win in six games and it sent them up to 11th in the Premier League, one point from 9th.
Mark Hughes once again surprised fans with some big name omissions to his starting eleven. He sent Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay back to the bench following the 4-2 loss at Stamford Bridge and brought in Marko Arnautovic back from suspension and Jon Walters back from a slight injury. Stars such as Bojan and Giannelli Imbula remained among the substitutes, however Wilfried Bony and Ramadan Sobhi had both left for the African Cup of Nations. It was to be Lee Grant’s final game as part of the loan spell that he secured to the Potters from Derby County in the Summer.