Without doubt, this Stoke team has come on leaps and bounds and has the potential to go on and do well in the next couple of seasons.
The last six months or so have seen Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea all defeated at the Britannia Stadium, and the two Christmas results against United and particularly Everton at Goodison has had many raving about the attacking talent in the side. This is before mentioning a cup semi-final on Tuesday with a chance to add Wembley to the impressive list of accomplishments above.
Surprisingly though, the one doubt for a while now has been Stoke’s ability to beat the sides towards the lower end of the table. Saturday saw West Brom do the double over Mark Hughes’ side, who have also lost against Sunderland and picked up a fortunate point against Norwich over the first half of this rather crazy Premier League season.
This campaign can see anybody beat anybody in England’s top division, but it’s not necessarily those losses and draws against bottom half sides that worries Stoke fans. The team seem to struggle to get themselves up for those sort of game and arguably expect to win without having to be at their best, which is an attitude that needs changing sooner rather than later. Until this does change, Stoke will always be a mid-table team and nothing more.
It says it all when fans almost expect to beat the likes of Manchester United when they come to town, but tend to worry about the games that you would expect to be more straightforward.
It would far from surprise supporters if Stoke were to roll over Liverpool at home on Tuesday night, but fail to beat Norwich at the Brit a week on Wednesday.
It’s fair to say Stoke didn’t get going at all at the Hawthorns, and got exactly what they deserved when the Baggies grabbed their late winner. There are no complaints with the defeat against the better team on the day, but the antics that led to Geoff Cameron’s red card were extremely disappointing.
Yes, if the arm had stayed down the referee wouldn’t have a decision to make, but that doesn’t justify Claudio Yacob overreacting and hitting the deck holding a part of his body that wasn’t even touched. If that wasn’t bad enough, he decided to peek out of the corner of his eye to see whether the referee had produced the red card, and when he had jumped back to his feet, probably with immense pride.
It’s something that has creeped into the game and we do see quite a lot, and I don’t see any reason why respective action cannot be taken against those that embarrass themselves trying to con the officials.
Credit to Tony Pulis’ side on the day though, they deserved the three points and he deserved his fourth win in four against the Potters since leaving the club in 2013.
You would think Tuesday’s game against Liverpool would be right up Stoke’s street after recent performances against those sort of sides, and the cup may well be the best opportunity to secure European qualification this term.
That will certainly be the case if the inconsistency continues, but overall you cannot complain with the club’s current position.