Stoke put in their performance of the season as they drew with current Champions Chelsea putting a severe dent in any lingering hope the Blues still had a chance of the title. What makes it even more frustrating for both sides is that the Potters could well have won by a significant margin were it not for the heroics of Peter Cech who put in a herculean performance in-between the sticks.
I seem to have written about us putting in our best performance this season/since we got promoted a few times in almost as many weeks but it really has been the case such has the dramatic turnaround in recent weeks been. We were lucky that we remained unchanged and it was the same players lining up who thumped Newcastle as in form John Walters got the chance to once again play alongside a resurgent Jones to take on the recently crowned ‘Player of the Month’ in David Luiz. The Brazilian promptly left the ground hiding behind his significant fringe as he and England Captain Terry were pushed and pulled all over the pitch as they were out thought, out muscled and ultimately outplayed by their less illustrious hosts.
This really was a performance instilling much pride in every Potter who was lucky enough to witness it as we bossed the Champions around and attacked relentlessly in a way you perhaps wouldn’t associate with Stoke, it was brilliant to watch and should give the manager and players great confidence in what they are able to achieve with the right attitude and application. Once again, having both wingers on the pitch at the same time gave us much needed balance and both Matty and Jermaine were well on form, tormenting their markers up and down the flanks all afternoon, Cole finally getting booked having kicked out at Pennant twice from behind as the little winger skipped past the gun toting England Player of the Year. The irony that both Pennant and Etherington continue to be overlooked by the national side wasn’t lost on the Potter’s faithful and based on the torrid time Cole got, I imagine Jermaine had a bit of a grin on his face too as he continues to impress down City’s right with no recognition from the clueless Capello.
It is nigh on impossible to single out individuals for praise when, once again, every player to a man did their job and did it brilliantly for the third game running. This level of consistency has been missing since we got promoted, though it has to be said that the last 3 games have all been at the Bear pit and we now face a very difficult trip down to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. Away games continue to be a worry for us and it remains to be seen whether the manager will let the side continue on the crest of a wave of confidence or if he’ll swap things around and disrupt the momentum we’ve managed to build up.
One player who will be missing from that trip to North London is Danny Higginbotham who ruptured his Cruciate Ligament meaning he will miss the remainder of the season which is a huge blow to a defence recently buoyed by his leadership and consistency. This leaves us with a big problem in that area as both the obvious options have failed to impress, with Collins being particularly woeful, so one change could well become two as Pulis may consider moving the often left footed Wilson across there and bring Wilkinson back into his favoured right position. I’m of the belief that this is the best option, another idea would be to put Wilko at left back but I’m not sure that would be a good idea, either way the local lad will have a baptism of fire against Aaron Lennon on Saturday much like in meetings past where poor Wilko seemed to be targeted as a weak link from the pacy and ruthless Bale/Lennon combination that many bigger named defenders have struggled to contain.
Higgy’s Injury A Huge Loss...
© PA Photos
It’s an important few weeks now as the season reaches its conclusion and there is a small matter of a Wembley appearance in a game dubbed a ‘Europa League Play Off’ against Coyle’s Bolton. In the form we’re in, and based on what I have seen of us against Bolton, we really should go into this game full of confidence knowing that a Cup Final place is more than just a possibility, and I get the feeling that with our perfectly timed recent upturn in form and a kind draw along the way that someone up there is smiling down on us and it could be an amazing end to a thrilling campaign…
Vis Unita Fortior
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @espn_stoke for all the latest Stoke City news...
Follow ESPNsoccernet's Football Correspondents on Twitter and Facebook
||Post your comment