In a weekend where Stoke were denied a perfectly good goal, there were many contentious decisions, off the top of my head;
Chelsea shouldn’t have had a penalty
Hull shouldn’t have had a penalty
West Ham should have had 2 penalties
Burnley should have had 2 penalties
Everton should have had a goal allowed as well as a Penalty
I really think the technology debate needs to be seriously discussed. Sepp Blatter came out as recently as last week to say technology is not an option and I think, once again he is wrong. I’m sick of decisions going against smaller sides and if you are watching on the TV the players are still arguing with the officials whilst viewers have seen half a dozen replays and know the real decision that should have been made so excuses that technology will hold up games is as non sensical as many of the decisions at the Stoke game today. All we need is a 4th official with a monitor and a system whereby the manager or captain of the side are allowed 3 challenges a game, much like Tennis where he can give a decision to try and bring some justice back into the game. I have heard that the referees get marked down if they DON’T book players that their Assessor thinks should be, in fact the referees are now booking for basic contact challenges as the bottom line is if they have the same or more bookings as the assessor they get rewarded financially – it’s a joke… they are hardly going to keep their cards in their pockets are they?
On to the game anyway which I believe to be the best performance since our Promotion – our movement was brilliant, the numbers supporting the attack both surprised and excited me in equal measure, we really did hold our own against THE form team in the League, we were excellent!! Whilst I was gutted at the result I was unbelievably buoyed by the performance, which was most un Stoke like and if we continue to take that approach to games and get a settled back 4 and midfield 4 we will win a lot more games than we will lose.
Higginbotham came in for the injured Shawcross and Whelan came back into midfield whilst Sidibe was the player chosen to partner Tuncay up front. Higgy had a great game in the middle and if I’m being brutally honest, I would prefer him there than Faye or Huth at the minute and hope he keeps his spot there for the game against Man City where I think his bravery and last ditch blocks will be needed. Like I said, a great team performance but as ever there are still some questions, but life would be dull if there weren’t…
Manager Rating – 9 – Excellent set up and approach from Pulis, he has shown in recent months his ability to adapt and change his style and Saturday saw a very welcome departure from our longer ball game, we took Villa all the way and more than that, we looked the better side for long periods of the game – please keep it up!!
Sorensen – 7.5 - A solid enough game for Tommy, though my heart was in my mouth when he parried straight in front of himself, but he remedied his error by blocking the follow up shot.
Wilkinson – 8 – I have often criticised Wilko if I’m honest and was relieved when Huth came in, but to ignore what he brings to the table defensively would be naïve, he has really won me over since coming back into the side and in my opinion fully deserves to keep the right back berth. He still struggles distribution wise, but given our current options he is the best one for that position. It may well be a better option comes in the transfer window, I would love to see someone like Onuoha who I think would fit right in personally…
Faye – 7 – A better game from Faye but again, still nowhere near his excellent self of last season, could he have done any better for the goal conceded?
Higginbotham – 8.5 – Excellent game from Higgy, took his opportunity very well indeed and deserves to keep his spot at the expense of Faye in my opinion. It’s the attitude of players like Higgy that every player not in their first team should look to – a consummate professional who I will always trust when he comes in..
Collins – 8 – A good game from Danny, excellent movement and support of attacks, at one point overlapped Ethers and raced in alongside Tuncay in the penalty area, I nearly had a heart attack, much like Pulis I would imagine. He is really coming on now and I was worried for a while, unfortunately there are still a number of fans on his back which I think is very unfair based on the last 2/3 performances.
Whitehead – 7.5 – Quite a good game from Whitehead, he filled in well on the right, certainly better than Delap has done of late. He joined in the attacks well and was as energetic as ever but his finishing and end product left much to be desired on the day..
Whelan – 7 – Had a good enough game, important to have Glen’s passing ability and eye but he still makes a lot of poor passes, I think he is the best of a bad bunch in that sense and the position of ‘Playmaker’ should be high on Pulis’ list this January
Diao – 6.5 – Not the best game from Diao, his lack of consistency and insistence to give away the most meaningless of fouls in stupid areas makes him a liability. When he is good he is great but we need a settled midfield and the inconsistency for me is not good enough – a new midfield destroyer should be a priority in Jan – unless we bought Arismendi with the view he would be that player in 12 months time?
Etherington – 8.5 – I love him.. Another great game for Matty, involved with everything going forward, pace, trickery, industry and stamina, he has it all. As it stands my player of the Season so far and I truly believe that he WILL be in the England Squad at the World Cup if he keeps it up.
Sidibe – 8 – A good game for Mama, who lets not forget still isn’t fit. Unsure if he is the right foil for Tuncay but they played well enough today, though that was more likely down to the industry of Tuncay. Mama is a Premier League player, make no mistake about it, BUT he is a squad player and I fully expect a new Mama with goals to arrive in January – Kenwyne Jones anyone?
Tuncay – 9 (Man of the Match) – I have saved the best till last.. Another great game from Tunny, you can see the confidence coming in, the sharpness coming back and it’s only a matter of time before he adds to his sole goal against Wigan. His energy knows no limits, his touch is sublime and when he gets the ball everyone holds their breath – exciting times ahead for Tunny and Stoke. I initially thought he wouldn’t fit in, but we seem to be working it well in playing a target man deep and still allowing Tuncay to come deep too.. I just think that at the moment Fuller is the better partner, but January could bring him another one in..
Fuller – 7 – Didn’t have much time to make much of an impact but always confident that he can keep the ball and his run surrounded by 3 backtracking defenders with the ball sticking to his toe is always a joy to see..
Delap – 6 – Again, not much time on the pitch but did very little other than give away a foul and punt the ball up front. A magnificent servant for the club and someone much better suited to a squad option from the bench and only ever for the middle
Beattie – 6.5 – Looked a little better than recent weeks but I think we have seen the last of the Beats of last season and expect him to be gone in January.