Liverpool 4 Stoke 0
A thoroughly depressing evening for the potters as they tasted defeat for the first time of the season. Stoke offered little to no resistance to Liverpool, and although there is no shame in losing at Anfield, it’s perhaps more the manner of defeat that sticks in the throat. Torres, Johnson, Kuyt and N’Gog punishing City for the kind of lacklustre performance we are beginning to expect away from ST4.
In truth the match was not a world away from the same fixture last year, only this time the early goal counted , and we seemed to resign ourselves to damage limitation after that. Apart from a bright start to the second half, it was an insipid performance from Stoke.
What was apparent was our weakness on the wings, as Benitez clearly had set his side to attack our full backs. Even though we conceded 4 goals, Both Faye and Shawcross equipped themselves fairly well, but were having to deal with a bombardment from the left, as Glen Johnson looked to impress the Kop on his home debut. An unusually out of sorts performance from Higginbotham and a usually out of sorts performance from Cresswell, seen Liverpool pierce our defence almost every time they pushed the ball out to the right.
It was a properly rubbish performance from Cresswell, I can’t defend him, Christ he can’t even defend, himself. Surely playing a player who is effectively a defensive striker, who we play on the left wing is pretty backwards. Glen Johnson looked worth every penny of the £17 million spent on him, while Dickie struggled to look good value for the £6.37 we should have paid for him. Perhaps it’s all a bit harsh on Cresswell, who is often hung out to dry on the wing. However if we are serious about progression, players like Dickie will have to be left behind and if we are content with not losing them, we should expect a few more 4 – 0 defeats this season.
Things weren’t that much more inspiring in the other half of the pitch with James Beattie cut a lonesome figure up front, as Liverpool’s defence coped admirably with City’s sporadic aerial and set piece threats.
A bleugh performance, and one to forget for Stoke.
Birmingham 0 Stoke City 0
If my mathematics are correct, we’ve now yet to score in more 270 minutes of of open play. I’ll try not to succumb to the hyperbolic drivel that some have, by declaring this as a must win six-pointer. It was however a match that Stoke will view as quite winnable, with the view that the 18 points on offer from the promoted sides are very attainable.
So expectation was much higher than it was at Anfield, however the fact remains that last season was a disaster away from home for Stoke. Much will depend on Pulis’ desire to stick with what he knows or whether we are willing to change, on the evidence on offer at St Andrews, well we may have to reserve judgement yet. Certainly the team selection reverted back to our strongest possible 11, which was nice, and even though it was probably a par-slightly below par kind of performance, it was a improvement on our midweek showing. We had more possession than we are used to, and in true we looked indecisive and unconvincing going forward, something that we’ll need to address before the transfer window closes, or if you are still awaiting a little hyperbole, transfer window SLAMS shut.
Pulis’ pragmatic approach away from home last year seen us really struggle to pick points up and the fear is that if the points dry up at home, well, we won’t get any points. There are signs that we are willing to soften his approach, pursuit of Paul Scholes and Danny Murphy in the summer although in the end fruitless, gave the indication that we were willing to evolve facets of our game.
The game itself was well contested, but resembled something like the unstoppable force vs the immovable object, or perhaps more aptly, the immovable object vs the immovable object.
It was that type of game.
Leyton Orient 0 Stoke City 1
Over 13 months in coming, but David Barry Kitson finally scored a goal for Stoke City. Perhaps it’s a false dawn of a our ginger hero becoming a free-scoring ginger hero, but his recent performances could suggest we are finally beginning to to see the player we thought we were getting when he signed.
It’s not unusual for Stoke to trip up in early cup ties, but there was no cupset to be had here. A second string 11 from Stoke managing (well, just about) to see off Orient, and although it was an opportunity to impress, few did.
Not least Kitson whose goal, a quite outrageously good volley, will now be looking to start some games with Beattie and Sidibe out.
What about transfer gossip I didn’t hear you say? Well.
With 10 days left to reinforce, the club are going the have to make some big calls if we’re planning on improving on a 12th place finish.
With the transfer of Joleon Lescott kicking of transfer merry-go-round of Distin, Collins, Dunne and Huth. With Lescott leaving Everton for Man City, Man City may be a Dunne too heavy of defenders so could send him back Everton’s way. But Stoke like Dunne to, but also like Collins. He doesn’t like Stoke, but likes Aston Villa, but they are keen on Distin. But then so are Everton, who armed with said oil money could buy the lot of them, whilst annoying Fulham, Stoke and who knows probably Aston Villa too, by purchasing Huth.
We’ve been after said Huth for some time too. With us not agreeing terms with Collins, we’ll probably do all we can to attract, not that doing everything we can will equate to much.
O’Neil is another name we keep hearing, being honest, i’m pretty tired of hearing whispers of sweet nothings from the media, i wish we’d just pissing sign someone (Preferably not someone who used to play for Sunderland, as we only seem to scout outside of SR5, getting Peter Reid on board as assistant will no doubt help this).
We’ve had a bid of £5milllion for Roberto Canella turned down. Super news that we are after a left back, not so super that they won’t give us him.
What else? We’ve been somewhat ludicrously linked with Ken Jones in a £12million super swoop, James Morrison of West Brom fame, not-croaky-throated-housewives-favourite fame could be winging his way to the potteries, and Dean Ashton will either sign for Stoke, or retire. Or stay at West Ham.
Robert Huth should get his first start for Stoke, unbelievably Ryan Shawcross is still growing and is feeling the pain so could miss out. James Beattie could figure, but with Kitson and maybe even Tuncay available and fully fit, Beattie may have to make do with some bench warming.
For Sunderland, Craig Gordon could spare Marton Fulop some ringing ears if the unpopular around the potteries Fulop doesn’t recover from an apt heel injury. Danny Collins won’t play, mainly because he might not know which way to kick the ball as he looks to leave Sunderland, for Stoke.
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