Stoke can take heart from defeat
28th August 2010
The first three games of the season never looked too good for the Potters. A tricky opener down the road at Wolves, followed by the visit of Spurs and then a trip to the Champions were always unlikely to produce that many points.
Nevertheless, We would have expected to have earned at least a point at Molineux, but were deflated by Kenwyne Jones' early injury. Spurs were always going to be a tough nut to crack, but TV replays have showed that we should have earned a point in the dying seconds after Jon Walters' shot was seen to go over the line by everyone except for the referee. Yesterday's match at Stamford Bridge may never have been going to earn us any points, but it did the soul good to see the team (for the most part) play well, give Chelsea a slight fright (for a time) and to come away with our dignity intact - not a mean feat after last season's 7-0 thrashing.
Tony Pulis rang the changes and put Jon Walters and Kenwyne Jones up front, leaving Tuncay and Fuller on the bench. Andy Wilkinson was an odd choice in midfield in preference to Glenn Whelan, but TP obviously thought that Wilko wouldn't stand for any nonsense from the likes of Ashley Cole. As it was, Wilko found himself wrong-footed on several occasions by Cole's undoubted skill and by playing five along the back it played havoc with the organisation as Stoke were undone too many times by the failure of anyone to take control of a situation (aka 'too many cooks spoiling the broth').
There was nothing Sorensen could have done for Chelsea's opener on 32 minutes as Molouda's volley rocketed past the Stoke keeper, but he was at fault for their second when he was too slow out of the blocks before bringing down Anelka on the edge of the penalty area. The fact that the ball was going safely out of play probably saved the Danish international from a red card, but he couldn't do anything about Drogba's resulting penalty kick.
But there were reasons to be happy. Thomas Sorensen's penalty save after just 10 minutes from Frank Lampard prevented any worries of an early bloodbath after Ryan Shawcross had brought down Malouda. Lampard's poor shot was easily saved, but still required the keeper to be going the right way in the first place and Sorensen deserves credit for the many penalties he's saved over the past two years. Jon Walters looked like he'll be dangerous in attack against lesser opponents, but had to be happy with a chip over Cech that landed on the roof of the net. Matty Etherington made some good moves into the Chelsea area and saw a good shot hacked away by Drogba on the six yard line. Glenn Whelan (coming on later for Wilko) had the best chance for the Potters as his 30 yard thunderbolt rocketed off the inside of the bar with Cech well beaten. If that had gone in when the score was 1-0 then who knows what could have happened? Kenwyne Jones had a quiet match, but still seemed to be suffering from the ankle injury sustained at Wolves.
So no points (and our worst start for many a year) but there's no way anyone should be pressing the panic button just yet. TP is still threatening to bring in some more players and with Villa and West Ham next up at the Brit, followed by trips to Newcastle and Bolton interspersed with a home match against Blackburn there are plenty of good opportunities to get some points on the board.