Rivalries set to resume in Cardiff

Posted by James Whittaker

Graham Kavanagh in Cardiff colours during the playoff tie against old club Stoke in 2002.GettyImagesGraham Kavanagh in Cardiff colours during the playoff tie against old club Stoke in 2002.

Saturday sees the Potters make the trip down to Cardiff to take on a side with whom they have built an unlikely rivalry with over the years. There’s clearly no geographical significance to the tie or any other logical link between the clubs other than a bitter relationship borne from their time shared in the lower leagues.

It was not long after the turn of the millennium and Stoke had again failed to win promotion out of the god-awful third tier of English football under the stewardship of their Icelandic owners while, across the border in Wales, Sam Hammam had rocked up with a pocketful of promises. Continue Reading...

Marko the magician inspires Stoke win

Posted by James Whittaker

Laurence Griffiths/Getty ImagesStoke impressed in winning their fourth straight home game.

Stoke got back to winning ways and made it four wins in a row at fortress Britannia, banishing the memories of a lacklustre performance in their last match against Chelsea with Saturday's victory against Newcastle.

The 1-0 score line flattered the visitors who failed to come to terms with the Potters' movement and organisation. Were it not for the poor finishing of Peter Crouch, it could well have ended up on the wrong end of a four or five nil reverse.

With Martin Atkinson nowhere to be seen the Potters were given a fair run at Newcastle, a luxury not afforded to them in the earlier meeting between the two sides. Continue Reading...

Odemwingie impact rivalled only by smile

Posted by James Whittaker

StokeGettyImagesPeter Odemwingie's infectious enthusiasm has impressed the Stoke faithful.

It was Jan, 22, 2014, when I received a note telling me that Stoke were trying to sign Peter Odemwingie; the Potters had just lost to Crystal Palace and fans weren’t entirely enamoured of the prospect of a 32-year-old being the answer to the problems in front of goal when I shared the news via Twitter.

The response to my Tweet cascading that information was almost unanimously against the signing of a player widely ridiculed for his antics in transfer windows past. His ill-advised foray to Loftus Road was well covered, documented and mocked by the footballing community but it was clear that he had been assured a deal was close. Continue Reading...

A bridge too far for Stoke at Chelsea

Posted by James Whittaker

Nemanja Matic Chelsea battle StokePA PhotosStoke had no answer to Chelsea on Saturday.

Prior to Saturday, I had written on my blog and Twitter about how any loss at Chelsea should be viewed in context of the run Stoke have had over the last couple of months.

Whilst I urged fans not to react too hastily over a defeat, after Stoke's 3-0 setback, I’m finding it difficult myself to sweep things under the carpet entirely.

The loss was only the Potters' second in the last 10 games. The other was at Man City and both they and Jose Mourinho's side finished the game top of the league. Continue Reading...

Stoke tame the Tigers

Posted by James Whittaker

It's often said that playing badly and winning is the measure of a good side; Stoke certainly did that as they scrapped their way to a 1-0 win over Hull City on Saturday.

- Report: Stoke 1-0 Hull City

It has been a magnificent March for the Potters and this latest win sees them open up a six point gap between themselves and the bottom half of the table. Saturday's win made it four in their last five, but it was far from the commanding performances that preceded it this month. Continue Reading...

Stoke's heroes take out the Villans

Posted by James Whittaker

Stoke fans have enjoyed watching some great performances of late, and spirits were high in the stands at Villa Park for another one. Among the traveling contingent were some fans dressed as Batman and Superman, but the real heroes were on the pitch as they slayed the Villans 4-1.

It was a slow start painfully reminiscent of so many before it, but the comeback that ensued has also become a feature of the Potters’ play in recent weeks. Much like in the West Ham game, Stoke went behind with barely five minutes played and, much like that match, having done so exhibited the kind of determination, character and self-belief to not only get themselves back into the game but also to put it beyond all doubt. Continue Reading...

Statistically, the best three players to line up behind Crouch are...

Posted by James Whittaker

AllsportWhere did Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam rank in the top five?

Having watched a Stoke side shorn of two first-team regulars (Jon Walters and Charlie Adam) take apart West Ham, fans have been deep in discussion regarding what the best options are for the three players lining up behind striker Peter Crouch.

There is little doubt that the combination selected on Saturday played a huge part in the victory; the trio of Marko Arnautovic, Stephen Ireland and Peter Odemwingie worked brilliantly together, producing arguably the best link up and attacking play ever seen at the Britannia. Continue Reading...

Silky Stoke starting to take shape

Posted by James Whittaker

Peter Crouch acrobatically assists Stoke's opening goal against West Ham.GettyImagesPeter Crouch acrobatically assists Stoke's opening goal against West Ham.

Mark Hughes completed his first double as Stoke manager in his 300th game in the dugout, beating a one dimensional West Ham United 3-1. It was somewhat ironic watching West Ham, the self styled purveyors of the beautiful game, adopt tactics more akin to those often seen at Stoke over the years. Andy Carroll was of course a threat with every ball lumped up to him but the Potters passed around their opponents with flair, devastating them on the counter.

Much of the run up to the match was about how the absences of Charlie Adam and Jonathan Walters would affect the side, but any concerns were quickly laid to rest as their replacements performed so exceptionally well. Continue Reading...

Will Stoke turn to Shea?

Posted by James Whittaker

Clive Brunskill/Getty ImagesBrek Shea's yet to make an impact at Stoke. Will he now get a chance?

When Brek Shea arrived in the Potteries there was considerable anticipation and excitement and while most Stoke fans knew little of him, the prospect of a Major League Soccer star joining his impressive fellow countryman Geoff Cameron in the ranks was an intriguing one.

Unfortunately, injury, form and countless other reasons mean that Shea has some way to go if he's to rival the impact seen from his colleague. In fact, some sections of the support believe he shouldn't even get the chance to and have already decided to write him off. Continue Reading...

A point gained but an opportunity missed for Stoke

Posted by James Whittaker

Stoke celebrate after Jonathan Walters levelled from the spot at Norwich City.GettyImagesStoke celebrate after Jonathan Walters levelled from the spot at Norwich City.

Mark Hughes and his team will perhaps see the 1-1 draw with Norwich as a point gained but following a first 15 minutes where the Potters could have had two if not three goals, he might also see it as an opportunity missed.

It was a great start from Stoke who seized the initiative as soon as the whistle went which, following a season of slow starts especially away from home, was a welcome sight. It didn't take long, however, for the age old issues to rear their ugly, pace-less heads. Continue Reading...

Desire key to another Arsenal upset

Posted by James Whittaker

Yaya SanogoPA PhotosYaya Sanogo shows his disappointment as Stoke held firm.

As England manager Roy Hodgson sat himself down at Southampton’s St Mary’s stadium to watch players he has made his mind up on already, Ryan Shawcross captained Stoke to a 1-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday, much like he had done against Manchester United and Chelsea in recent weeks.

While Hodgson is of the opinion those last two clubs have the "better options" at centre-back for England, Stoke’s skipper continues to impress and shut out the league’s finest. Continue Reading...

Yaya Toure breaks Stoke hearts...again

Posted by James Whittaker

When I wrote in my preview that Stoke fans wouldn't be too disheartened by the same score line suffered in the FA Cup Final three years ago, I didn't quite expect it to happen, nor that the scorer would be the same. The goal was scored a mere four minutes earlier than that fateful day, but this time it wasn't under the famous Wembley arches amid an electric atmosphere. It was in front of a timid and nervous Etihad crowd shown up by their counterparts in red and white.

1-0 is not a bad score line at all and for all intents and purposes I'd suggest that the game plan adopted by Mark Hughes and his men was executed near faultlessly, but for a couple of individual errors that led to the goal. Continue Reading...