I don’t care what you say, winning at the Britannia Stadium is no mean feat as only the top four last season lost fewer home games than Stoke City (3).
A slow start mixed with some poor passing and lack of cohesion by Palace handed the initiative to Stoke for the majority of the first half, and on 14 minutes a bizarre goal had us trailing 1-0.It was no more than we deserved to be honest, but this team has desire, determination and passion so going behind doesn’t worry me like it used to do. We have recovered the most points from losing positions this season and in the end, it’s the scoreline at the end of the 90 minutes that counts.
It was a recovery similar to the away game at Burnley. We slowly came to terms with how Stoke were playing with the same 4-2-3-1 formation as us, but Charlie Adam was affecting the game. He had more touches than any other player, he ran with it well, passed it well and nearly beat Julian with a 20 yard effort that sailed just wide.
Although Stoke had more shots at goal we were more efficient; they had four on target to our three, but we had 12 attempts to their 17. We could talk stats all day, but the two most important stats for me are the pass that leads to a goal and the strike or header that ends up in the back of the net.
Last week I said I thought Glenn Murray deserved a goal, and this week he made one and scored one. We have to remember what a horrific injury tearing your ACL is, but he now looks like he’s back to his confident self. He led the line superbly at the weekend against Ryan Shawcross and Marc Wilson, two very difficult opponents.
The manager’s request of more goals from more players is paying off, Wilfried’s smile lit up the stadium when he anticipated a Murray flick on and punished a hesitant Asmir Begovic. That’s two in two now for Wilf, and I think both him and Yannick are capable of scoring more goals to match their ability. In 2011/12 Wilf scored nine goals, and the following season he bagged eight, so he knows where the net is, and now he’s showing more belief in himself to get on the end of crosses and flicks.
To go in 2-1 up at half time after how we’d played was a result, and our best period came after half time. We passed the ball around more swiftly, our movement and general play was better, greater care in possession was taken and Yannick caused havoc down the left hand side of the park.
Jason Puncheon was annoyed he didn’t convert his chance, in the end it didn’t prove costly but creating and scoring goals is the hardest job in football and the manager will be pleased we are making chances.
Pape Souare was handed his third start for us and he’s adapting to life in the Premier League along with a cultural change in his life. He will benefit and prosper with every minute of playing time he gets this season and will know exactly what to expect next season.
Manchester City is up next and I’m sure the squad will relish playing some of the best talent the Premier League has to offer, after all it’s what dining at the top table is all about.