A brilliant draw. Best Stoke game ever. We belong here. All quotes from Stoke fans on this game, but surely a 1-1 win against a, by all accounts, somewhat subpar Manchester United team, shouldn’t rank higher than beating Liverpool, or your first European game in years, or an FA cup final appearance. But I digress, a draw with the champions is a brilliant result for Mr Pulis’ men, and they managed it with a touch more style and panache than their victory over Liverpool or indeed their draw against Chelsea on the first day of the season. At least in terms of statistics, that is.
Britannia Stadium, Stoke
Referee – Peter Walton
Stoke City – Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Woodgate, Wilson; Pennant, Delap, Whelan (Yellow), Etherington; Crouch (Goal), Walters. Subs – Huth for Wilkinson, Whitehead for Delap, Jerome for Pennant.
Manchester United – De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Ferdinand, Evra; Nani (Goal), Anderson, Fletcher, Young; Berbatov, Hernandez.Subs – Owen for Hernandez, Wellbeck for Berbatov, Giggs for Young.
In a season where Stoke have had some of the worst possession stats in the history of the EPL, they managed a very respectable 41.5% against the champions. Also surprising is that Stoke managed 5 shots on target to their visitors 4, both having a total of 10 shots on target throughout the game. United did make over 100 more accurate passes than the hosts – 357 to 217, and had a higher pass completion rate with 80% to Stokes 73%. Somewhat surprising is that Stoke attempted nearly double the number of crosses of Manchester United (35-18), and had a 34.2% success rate, with United being successful 33.3% of the time.
Despite being solid in defence, this time out Stoke didn’t outdo their opponents like in so many previous games. United managed to win more tackles (16-12), and attempted 2 more tackles in total than Stoke. Stoke are usually dominant in terms of possession duels, but this time out the red devils managed to outmuscle the hosts, winning 54 out of the 92 duels, leaving Stoke winning 38 of them. In the air, Stoke clawed one battle back, winning 17 from 26, with United winning 9. Both teams made 13 interceptions, while United conceded 1 less chance than Stoke (14-13) and Stoke made 7 more effective clearances than their opposition (25-18).
Of Stokes 5 shots on target, 4 of them came from inside the box, while United made 3 of their 4 from there. Both teams made 2 chances from set pieces, United creating 12 in total while the hosts created 8. Both teams attempted 3 headers on goal, Crouch’s goal being one of Stokes three. Stoke only managed one successful dribble all game, while Man Utd were successful with dribbles on 16 different occasions.
United may have been slightly more successful in terms of the stats, but Stoke fans do have every right to be pleased with this result. A great draw against one of the best teams in the world, and a solid performance which might finally prove to the masses that Stoke belong in the top echelons of English football.
Crouch seemed to have played well, and took his chance brilliantly against an on form Phil Jones. Could he be the signing of the season? Personally, I still think £10million might be a bit steep for the big man, but he does fit in well at Stoke, and seems to have settled in well. Woodgate is also settling well, and if he stays fit, could soon be in contention for an England friendly call up. Other summer signings Upson, Palacios and Jerome haven’t played enough first team football to be judged honestly, but only one of those three will make a good impression this season I fancy. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out who.
Next up, Besiktas in the Europa League, a very tough tie in my opinion – even tougher than Kiev. Even at home, I fancy a draw would be an amazing result for the Potters. In the EPL, it’s Swansea away on Sunday. My apologies for the slightly abridged version of the blog this week, and most likely for the next couple of weeks as well.