20/11/2010 – Hawthorns, West Bromwich
West Bromwich Albion 0 – Stoke City 3
WBA – Carson; Jara, Ibanez, Cech, Tamas; Mulumbu, Barnes, Scharner, Morrison, Thomas; Odemwingie. Subs – Cox for Morrison, Tchoyi for Barnes, Dorrans for Mulumbu.
Stoke – Begovic; Shawcross, Wilkinson, Huth, Collins; Whitehead, Delap, Pennant, Etherington (Goal); Jones, Fuller. Subs – Tuncay for Pennant, Walters (Goal x 2) for Etherington, Wilson for Fuller.
In a game where Stoke only managed 34.6% of possession – a stat they mirrored on the opening day of this season against Chelsea, they pulled out a very solid 3-0 win. Stoke managed less than half the total shots of West Brom (13-6), less than half of the number of accurate passes (321-143); with WBA managing a 77% pass completion rate to Stoke’s 64%. Stoke only created 5 chances all match including their 3 goals, while WBA managed 13.
Possession duel time – Stoke, as is the usual, won 56 to WBA’s 47, while also outdoing them in Aerial duels (20-14). Stoke made 8 more interceptions (14-6), had more headed clearances (10-9) and lost possession 8 less times than West Brom. All in all, a typical Stoke performance, with a boosted scoreline due to two penalties. Despite the disparity in scoreline, West Brom had an amazing second half of the season, eventually finishing two places above Stoke in 11th.
This season, Stoke currently lie in 11th after two draws, while West Brom are in the bottom 3, 18th, with two losses, despite playing well by all accounts. Stoke’s last game against Norwich saw them outperform Norwich in attack, while Norwich took on the Stoke role of dominating in defence. It was a close match, and with both sides lacking conviction in front of goal, a draw was the only outcome.
After Stoke’s brilliant win against FC Thun in midweek – with a close to full strength team, Pulis must resist the temptation to tinker with the starting 11 in order to beat the Baggies. Promising news also comes from striker Kenwyne Jones’ two goals, with Stoke in desperate need of a regular run of goals from the Trinidad and Tobago star. However, Stoke must still be in the market for a new striker, and I won’t stop staying it until they actually listen to me.
Prediction time then and I’m going for a 2-1 win to West Brom. The midweek endeavours, while a great achievement, I believe will have taken too much out of them; and West Brom, who have made some promising signings and are continuing to play good football, may just edge them out on this one. It will be predictable Stoke stats – not showing much up front, but solid at the back, winning the ball more often than not in the right areas, and dominating in the tackle. West Brom are a good attacking side, so don’t expect this to be a boring game, and with Stoke seemingly willing to play some football at times, an early slot on MOTD2 could be on the cards.
Predicted Stoke Line Up – Begovic; Huth, Shawcross, Woodgate, Wilson; Etherington, Pennant, Whitehead, Delap; Jones, Fuller.