Stoke bounced back from their 2-0 defeat to Swansea two weeks ago with a convincing 2-0 home win over Fulham. Despite the hype around Fulham’s 6-0 win against QPR last time out, Stoke never looked in trouble. But as usual, the question is – was this a solid, gritty Stoke performance, or will the stats show, not for the first time, that Stoke are capable of dominating in attack?
Britannia Stadium, Stoke
Stoke City – Begovic; Wilson, Upson (Yellow), Shawcross, Wilkinson; Pennant (Yellow), Delap (Yellow) (Goal), Whelan (Yellow), Etherington; Walters (Goal), Crouch.
Subs – Whitehead for Pennant, Diao for Etherington.
Fulham – Schwarzer; Baird (Yellow), Hangeland, Hughes, Riise; Sidwell, Murphy (Yellow), Dempsey; Johnson, Dembele, Zamora (Yellow).
Subs – Duff (Yellow) for Dembele, Etuhu for Murphy, Sa for Johnson.
As the graph shows, the stats were fairly even throughout all categories. Stoke surprisingly managed more shots in total, and on target, than trigger happy Fulham, while also managing more accurate passes – things Stoke usually leave to their opposition. In the possession and aerial duels, things essentially evened themselves out, Stoke winning slightly more possession duels while Fulham won more aerial duels.
Another chart, another chance to see how close the game was. Fulham would seem to have played a sloppier game, conceding more fouls and losing possession more times than Stoke. Though they did have more accurate throw ins, continuing Stoke’s terrible run of never winning in this category. Fulham managed slightly more possession, though the only game in which Stoke have had more possession was the 1-0 victory over West Brom.
So a very close game, but then these are the types of game that, at home anyway, Stoke seem to excel in. Fulham could be seen as unlucky, but on the day Stoke created, and took more chances than their opponents.
I’ll admit I’ve been wrong about Stoke so far. They’ve been solid in all but 2 of their matches so far, and look good for a top ten finish. Consistency is key, so if Pulis can turn some of their poorer performances into draws, then the sky (P7) is the limit.
Next weekend, it’s Arsenal away, where Stoke will fancy their chances after great results against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. In midweek, it’s a Europa League home game against Maccabi Tel Aviv, where a win will make it 7 out 9 points so far. I’m off for the week, so no preview or match report for the Arsenal game, but will be back for the Newcastle United match preview.