The Potters look to have finally got their season back on track, after a well fought point at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
The performance was miles above anything we have seen so far this season. Before their goal we looked solid in defence, and with Shaqiri back on the right we looked a real threat going forward.
Despite still being without a league win this season, it is fair to say the best is still to come, after a very positive performance today against a tough opposition.
Firsy half saw us, for the most part, hang in the game, as United bombarded the Stoke defence. Lee Grant was forced into a great save to stop Zlatan Ibrahimovic early on, and Paul Pogba would hit just wide from a great position.
Shaqiri was the star for the away side in the first half, as he almost ended Chris Smallings career as he flip-flap nutmegged the England international (I suggest you go back and watch that tonight.)
Our best chance of the half fell to Geoff Cameron, who was waiting on the edge of the box after so great play down the right, but his effort was tame and straight at De Gea.
It was an overall solid half, we weren’t incredible going forward, but we more than made up for it defensively.
Second half could have produced anything. After such a good first half, it would have been typical for us to concede early and throw it away. But this would not be the case.
Stoke came out firing and looked far the better team. The tika-taka style of play gets blasted the majority of the time, but it nearly produced a goal, as some nice precise passing saw Allen through on goal, but again his effort was tame and straight at the keeper.
United went for broke midway through the half, as they brought both Rooney and Martial on, two players that tormented us last season at Old Trafford. And after some fortunate play, the two would link up to give Mourinhos side the lead.
It was a scrappy goal in the box, Rooney would miss-kick the ball, and it would deflect straight to Martial, who curled it into the top corner from inside he box, almost a carbon copy of the goal he scored last season.
At this point we were made to hold on as the home side bombarded our goal. Chance after chance for United was dealt with well (or well enough) by our defence, as we tried to keep ourselves in the game.
An Arnautovic injury would spark a double change by Hughes, which many saw as somewhat negative. Crouch and Walters came on for Arnie and Bony, and inevitably it would be a very good choice by the Welshman.
Stoke would get a well deserved goal in the 81st minute, and who else but Joe Allen to get the goal? The goal came after great work from Johnson, whose rejuvenated our success down the right, he would shoot from range with his left. De Gea fumbled the shot as far as Walters, his shot would hit the bar, and there was Allen to convert from close range.
A well deserved goal for us, and it was proof that we are on the up. We were made to hold on to the point late on, as an United looked to save their blushes. Paul Pogba would hit the bar with a header in the dying minutes, a chance a certain Welshman would have buried!
Overall, a great point all round. The performances are drastically improving, and we can only hope that their is more yet to come.
As far as man of the match goes, Lee Grant firmly put himself forward as the first choice keeper for now, as he kept United at bay with some incredible saves. Our whole defence today was solid, especially Shawcross and Pieters, two players that have been under fire because of their performances recently. Geoff Cameron again put a good performance in midfield, and Shaqiri once again proved what we’ve been missing. And if course, the man of the moment, Joe Allen, was brilliant as usual. He is proving to be well worth his transfer this summer, and isn’t slowly becoming a cult hero in the Potteries.