Monday, 29 November 2010

Stoke 1 - 1 City

  • Certainly a sense of disappointment: it's impossible to lose two points in stoppage time without one. But also some pride at another good away performance, and an acknowledgement that we dealt better with Tony Pulis' idiosyncratic approach to football than we have done in the past. I would have taken a point before the game and so cannot be too upset with the result, even if the manner of its achieving was imperfect.

  • As good as the second half was, we cannot ignore Stoke's superiority in the first half. We conceded as many goal-scoring chances as we have done in any half of Premier League football this season. Joe Hart was better at dealing with the trebuchet approach than Shay Given but Stoke were sharper to us on second balls and probably ought to have scored one or two. We had a few glimmers of opportunities on the break but David Silva's genius was just beyond his reach; those no-look reverse balls into the channels weren't quite coming off.
  • But the second half was a different country. In that respect this was a lot like the draw at White Hart Lane on opening day. First half, we were buffeted, could not get a foothold in the game and were lucky to still be at 0-0 at half-time. But in the second half we played the game we wanted to play, controlled possession and looked much more assured. This was the way of it on Saturday: we kept the ball excellently in the second half, as David Silva dropped centrally to dominate the midfield. We spent most of the half camped on the edge of the Stoke box, waiting for a space to materialise. When we finally broke through, it was from a surprise source: Micah Richards spun a defender and fired into the bottom corner.
  • I must admit to being confident we'd hold on. Our ball retention is sufficiently good that we are adept at holding onto leads, even on the road. We were doing fine until Kolo Touré gave the ball away, lost the return header to Kenywne Jones. Micah Richards then got sucked towards Tuncay and away from Matthew Etherington, who received the Turk's back-heel and equalised. A good goal, certainly, but still a frustrating one to concede, especially that late. Much like the result, then.

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