Stoke came into the game today desperately needing a win. After last weeks loss to Bournemouth, The Potters were just two points off Hull in 18th, but a win would propel them back into the top half.
Mark Hughes experimented with his first team line-up, making five changes, including reintroductions for Giannelli Imbula and Mame Biram Diouf. The two had lost their place in the team earlier in the season, and have found it hard to make it back in.
But both definitely impressed today, as Stoke beat Watford away from home 1-0. Charlie Adam will be claiming the goal, after his header hit the post, and Gomes deflected the ball into his own net for the own goal.
An impressive performance, one which we hope we can carry onto and improve on against Burnley next week.
The away side started the game the better of the two. Shaqiri caused some chaos in the Watford box with his delivery, Diouf went for the spectacular overhead kick which was blocked, only to fall to Martins Indi, whose effort was saved by Gomes. The ball would finally fall to Johnson, who again drove a shot towards goal, but again the shot was blocked and the danger was finally cleared.
As we said before, Imbula got his chance back in the side thanks to a suspension to Joe Allen, and the Frenchman took it. He would come close, as he tried his luck from range, and the ball just sailed past the top corner.
Stoke made the breakthrough in the 29th minute, and fortunately it came from an own goal. Shaqiri with the delivery from the corner, Charlie Adam headed towards goal but his effort bounced off the post. However, Watford’s goalkeeper Gomes was still reeling from the initial effort, and as the ball rebounded off the post, it would deflect off the Brazilian and into the net. A touch of fortune for us, but you couldn’t argue that we didn’t deserve it.
Before the end of the half, Watford would have a great chance to equalise, as they floated the ball to the far post, but Britos couldn’t keep his header down and it sailed over the bar.
As the second half began, Stoke had the chance to make it two, and in reality they really should have.
A great run from Arnautovic from the left, he could have gone for the shot, but instead he tried to cut it back for Walters to tap into an open goal, but his cross was just played too far in front of the Irishman, and the chance came to nothing.
Despite playing very well, Stoke let Watford back into the game late on in the second half, making for a nervy last 10 minutes.
Janmaat came the closest for the home side, as he picked the ball up on the edge of the box, and fired a well hit shot over the bar. Substitute Okaka had a chance at the back post after an attempted overhead kick from Ighalo, but he couldn’t only hit his effort into the side netting.
With the game won, The Potteds added insult to injury, as Shaqiri drove forward on the counter, and was brought down by Britos, who had been booked in the first half for a foul again on the Swissman, and was sent off in the 90th minute.
And that was it. A well earned three points, bringing us up to 10th in the league for now (with Bournemouth and Southampton still to play below).
It was tough to pick just one man of the match, as everyone played well, but Giannelli Imbula was named MOTM by Sky Sports, and it’s hard to argue he didn’t deserve it.
Final Score: Watford 0-1 Stoke City
Goalscorer: Gomes (o.g 29′)