From My Seat: Stoke City (A)

By Ken Buckley 02/02/2017  24 Comments  [Jump to last]
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Stoke City 1 - 1 Everton

A windy winter's night and what better place to head off to than Stoke. As always rumbustious with the home fans united against the world and from conversations Donald Trump has a fare few supporters. I believed the night was set up for two dead cert happenings. Crouch to notch his 100th Premier League goal and Coleman to notch one on his 200th appearance for the club. Well I got that 50% right and Coleman would insist I got it 100% right.

The game started and in no time at all you just knew we were in for a typical Stoke performance on a wet and windy night. Our first job was to stand up to them as the red meat they eat before kick -off was in evidence in their approach. The first minutes were a getting to know you session with Tom Davies prominent in mid field but he and others were slow in coming to grips with the Stoke long ball over the top. They did force an early corner with this type of pressing but thankfully it drifted out on the wind but our respite was short lived as first Mori and Robles gave the travelling faithful palpitations as the played one two’s with each other in and around the area.

The travelling Park End coaching staff suggested a better way of clearing it, they obeyed but just a minute later which put us on only six minutes we folded like a pack of cards as Holgate who had been targeted by Mark Hughes as all the balls were being played in his direction and on this occasion he was caught out by a ball over him for Arnautovic to run onto and enter our box and slide in a ball along the ground for Crouch to tap home with Robles helpless. Once again we are looking to come from behind but one thing about the goal was its timing left us almost a whole game to get back into it. Crouch did his ‘Robot’ celebration on his 100th goal.

The game resumed but we were still trying to work out who was where and our propensity to give the ball away was frustrating. I wondered if we were missing Barry’s organisation and savvy. We had plenty willing to run about and close down but no one to put there foot on it and dictate some play and if someone did they dallied to long and the ball was swept from them. We had plenty of endeavour but we just did not seem able to click when it mattered and attempts on goal we at a premium. We did force a corner which Mirallas took and it was bundled behind by a Stoke player for another which was cleared as far as Coleman who shot wide – very wide.

It took to the 20-minute mark before we looked like we were starting to play more like a team than a collection of players but Stoke with their lead were happy to soak up our pressure and then aim the long ball over Holgate’s head for the speedy Arnautovic to career into our box and from one of these Adam slid him in and it looked like another tap in but Robles was off his line like a robbers dog and made a fine block. It was Stokes turn to dominate but wouldn’t you just know it we put a slick move together on 40mins that saw the ball played crisply through the midfield with Davies and Barkley involved and the ball was fed to Coleman in the right wing position, he turned in and left footed shot and scored.

Pandemonium... then the ref seemed to have disallowed it then the lino is involved then a Blue shirted celebration took place whilst the red and white stripes moaned along with their wildly booing fans. It was hilarious really especially as it turned out to be an own goal. From my seat it looked like Coleman’s goal so to hell with it I’m giving it to him.

Three minutes were added and just when we were talking about going in all square at the break Crouch played a great ball inside Holgate and Arnautovic was in one on one but the robbers dog was out and even faster this time and just as the ball was to be slid home Robles again blocked away. The applause he got for that must have been uplifting to him. Then the whistle went.

Half-time: 1-1

We agreed that probably Stoke had the better of the half but we were tenacious if nothing else it was just the joined up bit that was missing from our football.

Second half and McCarthy replaced Holgate probably a good move before his confidence was further dented but it is these games that sort out the wheat from the chaff so I hope he learns from it and is back stronger. I am not sure what formation we had at the back but it seemed Williams spent a lot of time at right back and Schneiderlin operating between Williams and Mori with Baines back in the left back role leaving Coleman down the right. That got pulled about a bit but we did look that bit safer at the back even when they were on differing wavelengths they did manage to somehow sort it and get back on track.

I thought Joel did really well in shouting to them if he spotted danger before them. The second half was a right scrappy affair with both teams looking to win it if they could yet not prepared to push on to hard and lose it to a breakaway so given that scenario not the best of watches for the purist but plenty of excitement about as each team took it in turns to attack and defend. The hour mark arrived and Stoke blinked first and made a sub their new man Berahino coming on for ex red Allen.

Stoke got a free kick that Adam delivered with some aplomb and it caused mayhem in our area we feared the worst but a series of swipes, back headers and hoofs got us out of a hole but then we put some stuff together and see Barkley produce a peach of a pass to put the ever motoring Davies in, he got in the box and went passed two but took one touch to many and a great chance was gone.

We made our first sub when Lookman replaced Mirallas who had had a promising first half but was out of the picture second half. Lookman started like a house on fire and in no time he was in the box and shooting but the keeper did well and gathered at the near post. He seemed to fade a little after that and operated on the left wing without making any powerful runs or cutting in and going at defenders with pace that he has to burn. Schneiderlin was now settling better operating between the centre backs but stepping out into mid field and trying to calm things down and use his ability at both short and long balls. A younger Barry you might say.

We had a free kick taken by Barkley and Schneiderlin had come forward, got his head to it but his header lacked pace and the keeper easily gathered. Davies was still full of energy and they had kicked him a few times but he was all over the park but his final ball was just that bit out and possession lost and he was by no means the only one.

Near the end we had a fright when Berahino anticipated a long ball and from in the area lobbed Robles but Mori was alert and raced back and headed from under the bar at the expense of only a corner – that could have been worse.

Then I thought we had won it when Coleman was found by Barkley and the Irishman twisted and turned got to the by-line and hit one at pace back across the box for the inrushing Davies to dive at, connect sweetly and with GOAL in the throat the Stoke keeper Grant made a superb save pushing the ball wide but our new man Lookman was on it in a flash and smashed one across goal with venom that alluded everyone with Davies being the closest to it and it was just too fast for him. The ball was hit that hard I wondered if it was indeed a shot.

We had one more chance before the end when Lukaku and Barkley combined to put the marathon man Davies in again but his shot was well saved by the keeper. Three mins were added but were a barren three so we all trudged away neither satisfied nor disappointed. Three more points required for safety

MotM - Robles/Davies

A good trip out and I got what I expected to get, a hard fought match where for long spells football took a back seat. It always seems to be that way against Stoke.

I was quite satisfied with our transfer window for a couple of reasons one being that players of the substance required for our present ‘project’ are rarely available and secondly just looking at today’s game with our two signings getting game time plus our two youngsters still wet behind the ears you could see plainly we have good and maybe very good players but they will take time to gel and understand their role in whatever tactic the manager decides on game by game. Today teamwork wasn’t on the agenda and of course if the manager introduces to many at once then results may well suffer. I believe if he can get what he has got bedded in by seasons end then the summer incomings will find it easier just by speaking to our present players regarding the who does what in the team.

Still soon be Saturday. Another 3.00pm k/o home match, a couple of days to prepare and then off the rollercoaster goes again. See you there.

UP THE BLUES


Reader Comments (24)

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Mike Gaynes
1 Posted 02/02/2017 at 06:12:32
Thanks as always, Ken.

I'd have chosen Schneiderlin over Davies to share MOTM with Joel... thought Schneiderlin really showed his quality throughout.

On the flip side that was the roughest outing I've seen from Coleman in a long, long time (and no, the goal wasn't his). And Mirallas, who seemed outraged to be subbed, shouldn't have been. He did a great job of getting into excellent positions today... and then repeatedly flubbed his passes.

Vinny Garstrokes
2 Posted 02/02/2017 at 08:22:45
Robles was superb! He has really played his part these past few games.
Tony Heron
3 Posted 02/02/2017 at 09:19:39
As usual, Ken, a really great report which makes you feel like your'e there, thanks again. Strange though if you watch BBC Breakfast, because according to them we didn't play last night?

Sally Nugent for BBC Sport "In last night's football, Man City thrashed West Ham and Man Utd (only) drew with Hull". Followed by the compulsory "interview" with the moronic one.

Later on a "return to football" to show Crouch scoring his 100th league goal leading to his robot dance of course. But hang on!! Who was it against? Did another team play last night? Ken did you dream this last night?

Am I losing it ? Or is the BBC just plain biased towards the "big six" and "personality" (?) managers.

John Raftery
4 Posted 02/02/2017 at 11:01:30
Tony (#3) I noticed that and it's not the first time BBC TV has ignored us in recent weeks. Should we be bothered? Not at all in my view because BBC television is almost totally irrelevant in terms of its Premier League coverage.

As regards last night's game, Koeman made the right decision to bring on McCarthy because we were struggling to control midfield in the first half. The change enabled us to control more of the possession and restrict Stoke's attack.

The downside was our two wing backs became full backs leaving us with insufficient width in attack. Overall a draw was a fair outcome in a game we might have won or lost.

Brent Stephens
5 Posted 02/02/2017 at 11:41:23
"The travelling Park End coaching staff suggested a better way of clearing it..." - very good.

"The game resumed but we were still trying to work out who was where and our propensity to give the ball away was frustrating. I wondered if we were missing Barry's organisation and savvy."

Yes, I thought that early on Stoke were pulling us all over the place with their better movement. And agree about Barry's organisation and savvy.

Schneiderlin is new to the set-up, as is Davies, but I thought the former grew into the game very well. The shift to 3 in midfield was wise and Macca brought great energy where needed.

Brian Furey
7 Posted 02/02/2017 at 12:26:17
What do you all think of Lookman so far? I've not seen much of him but it sounds like he's not scared to shoot anyway.

Will Schneiderlin be first choice now with Gana for most games. I really hope we won't be playing 3 DM for most away games.

Geoff Williams
8 Posted 02/02/2017 at 13:28:15
Horses for courses and for this match Koeman should have picked a team to compete with the physical demands of a team like Stoke.
Lee Gorre
9 Posted 02/02/2017 at 13:32:29
What's with all the national media adulation for Crouch anyway? 15 years to get to 100 goals ...that's less than 7 a season. Wow, top striker.
Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 02/02/2017 at 14:13:26
Thanks for a very good account of the game, I haven't seen an inch of the action, I listened/ read to the live forum on ToffeeWeb, you get a mixed reaction to the game from that, one man's meat is another man's poison, so Barkley as very good/shite along with quite a few more in the team.

I get a much more balanced and sane view of the game from you, so thanks again.

Mike Gaynes
11 Posted 02/02/2017 at 14:54:55
Geoff #8, he DID pick the right team to compete with Stoke's physicality, and I thought we did so very well. The only problem was that Holgate was totally overmatched by the experienced Arnautovic, who left him in the dust every time he turned his head.

Brian #7, Lookman definitely isn't scared to shoot. Or take on defenders off the dribble. Or challenge. Or get on the end of passes. He's fearless. And that's as exciting as his talent. I think he could develop into something special.

Jay Harris
12 Posted 02/02/2017 at 15:01:09
Enjoyable report as always Ken.

Good to see Robles getting the credit he deserves. He certainly saved us a point last night.

Thought Davies was outstanding, what an engine he has.

I was not as impressed with Scneiderlin as others. For me he played far too deep and gave the ball away in dangerous situations on too many occasions.

Lookmans "shot" was on target but seemed to hit their GK's ankle to deflect out.

Thought Ross was targetted by Stoke and wasnt able to escape the shackles as much as I thought he would.

Clive Mitchell
13 Posted 02/02/2017 at 19:09:34
Spot on report. This was a tough night and we stood up to it well, including the manager with a key half-time change. Inevitably some mediocre performances among our starting 11 but Robles, Davies and Barkley were definitely not among them.
David Hallwood
14 Posted 02/02/2017 at 19:38:59
As ever, great report Ken. Re Davies: I've always been in the 'don't build them up too early' camp, because people expect far too much and are quick to turn on them when they go through the inevitable sticky patch (Ross Barkley anyone??).

That being said it is hard not to get excited about Davies and the performances he's putting in. He reminds me, not only in hairstyle of a young Ray Parlour and I'd be delighted if he turned out as good.

Final word about BBC bias. I've long stopped getting wound up about the national media. For example you do realise that the 4-0 against Citteh was because they were shite; nothing to do with us playing well, and if they would've brought their 'A' game-well we would've been slaughtered. Ditto vs the Arse. So don't look at it as 6 points won, think of it as a lucky escape.

Picture the scene if we ever won the Premier League on the final Sunday, it's MotD with Big Ears "Good evening, well Everton are the new Champions, but first we go to Old Trafford were United battle it out with Stoke for the coveted 7th spot"

Bob Parrington
15 Posted 02/02/2017 at 21:42:49
Thanks once again, Ken, for a good report. Watched the game live on Optus and was quite worried for much of the first half. Well considered substitution/reorganisation at half time made a big difference and I felt we then took control of the game.

Lukaku was having a bad day at the office, Barkley too! Too many passes going astray, both short and long. Tom Davies looked exhausted by ¾-time so let's hope he is up for this weekend's game.

MotM for me was Robles with Davies and Schneiderlin. The latter is still settling in but this was a much improved performance. I was surprised when Mirallas was subbed. Lookman certainly seems to have speed and, for his age, poise and skill that fits well in to this squad.

OFM perhaps should have tried to sign Charlie Adam to feed crossed to Lukaku etc a few years ago. Love him or hate him, he puts in a shift and his crosses are mostly excellent.

Dave Williams
16 Posted 02/02/2017 at 22:16:17
Dave (#10),

I was doing the same in a hotel lounge in London and was mystified about the reaction of the forum to Ross. Some saying he was awful and others that he was the best player in blue. We really do all see a different game but I guess that's one of the reasons why it is so compelling.

Stoke away is hard enough without throwing in a strong wind and a point was decent. Great to see Tom continuing to play well and it sounds like Lookman may well start on Saturday.

Quite how he fits Gana into the midfield will be fascinating. Does he give Tom a rest- surely not while he is playing so well. Morgan needs games and seemed to grow into the game last night so he needs to play. Maybe Mason will be rested, play a back four thus creating an extra space in midfield for Gana.

How nice to see a problem of how to fit quality players into the team rather than have to contemplate which sub- standard players will feature.

Andrew Presly
17 Posted 03/02/2017 at 01:00:02
"Three more points required for safety"

Ken, great write up as always but that line kills me and is so depressing. Can I ask what makes you say that?

Mark Andersson
18 Posted 03/02/2017 at 01:49:17
Always a enjoyable read, thanks, Ken.

Koeman is building a team of hard workers with a stronger mentality. He is building for the future. Sounds like a good point was earned and that can only be good.

Mick Davies
19 Posted 03/02/2017 at 02:03:59
Love your reports, Ken, but did you not realise that we made the first substitution? The hour mark arrived and Stoke blinked first and made a sub – their new man Berahino coming on for ex red Allen.
And to further compound the error: We made our first sub when Lookman replaced Mirallas – You even mentioned the half-time sub too!

Apart from that, another well written and informative first hand account. As for the MotM, it had to be Robles; no one done as much as him to earn that point. Reminds me of Schmeichel (the old one) the way he races at the attacker, arms spread out looking unbeatable – long may it continue, as I really like the man, and he deserves credit for his professionalism and patience over the last 3½ years

Ken Buckley
20 Posted 03/02/2017 at 09:03:38
Andrew @ 17

Sorry, mate... Scouse humour can be black humour.

Ken Buckley
21 Posted 03/02/2017 at 09:13:21
Mick @19,

Well spotted – I have no excuse except I was rushing from getting in and the need for some kip.

As the wife says: "Silly old fool."

Andrew Presly
22 Posted 03/02/2017 at 10:02:55
Phew! Cheers Ken, onwards and upwards!
Paul Thompson
23 Posted 03/02/2017 at 10:12:16
Interesting observation about missing Barry in the first half, Ken. Schneiderlin did however grow into the game – he's going to be very influential for us.

We are finishing games very strongly, with Davies and his incredible engine (and Lookman's energy) playing a part. On the other hand, it would be nice to not go a goal behind and/or not be very good in the first half!

Terry Underwood
24 Posted 03/02/2017 at 11:50:38
Thanks, Ken, your reports always make me feel like i'm back with the blue army, always loved away matches as we always had a good turn out and made a noise.

It seems like Joel is growing into the part, good for him. Much as I like and respect our current boss, nothing would give me more pleasure than seeing him with egg on his face as Niasse bangs in a dozen goals to keep Hull up.

Just a thought: I always thought it was "Ni-ass-ee" but the MotD team pronounced it "NI-ass" what is the right way?

Mick Davies
25 Posted 03/02/2017 at 20:55:37
Ken, sorry for being such a pedant, and I assumed the report was compiled on the hop, being a midweek game. Tell the wife it could be worse: she could be married to a pedantic saddo!

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