Marc Muniesa was the hero for Stoke today, as he scored and helped his defence to a clean-sheet in our 2-0 win over Burnley at the bet365 Stadium.
The Spaniard volleyed home from Arnautovic’s cross after Jonathan Walters put Stoke in the lead with a delightful chipped effort – whether he meant it is another story!
The win brings Stoke back into the top half at a very familiar 9th place, and we will be looking to improve on that when we face Arsenal at The Emirates next Saturday.
Before today’s game, the main talk between Stoke fans was whether Mark Hughes would continue to play 3 at the back which saw us win against Watford last week, and if he’d revert back to a more familiar 4 at the back.
He chose the latter, naming an unchanged side, with Joe Allen and Glenn Whelan returning only to the bench.
Despite a poor start to the game, Stoke would create the first notable chance in the 10th minute, as Bruno Martins Indi would rattle the post from his header. The Dutch defender was given too much space in the box from Shaqiri’s corner, and probably should have done better.
Usually we would be made to rue our missed chances, but that was no the case today, as just ten minutes later The Potters had taken the lead. Some great interplay down the right gave Diouf some space. His low cross was sublime, and Walters’ finish was even better, as he touched it over the top of Robinson, and find the far corner. A bizarre finish watching from the crowd, but ultimately a brilliant team goal.
Stoke made it two in the 35th minute, and it came from an unlikely source. Marc Muniesa scored his first Premier League goal, and his first since his brace against Sunderland in the cup in September 2014, and it all came from him.
A charging run from defence saw him skip past two defenders, and as he passed it off he decided to continue to run towards goal. Some great play from Arnautovic saw him beat Flanagan, before firing the ball into the box, and who was there to convert? Muniesa. The smiling Spaniard volleyed home with a difficult finish, and in turn erupting the bet365 Stadium into a chorus of his rather catchy song.
Into the second half, and Muniesa could have easily gone from hero to zero, as he tussled with Andre Gray who was through on goal, and as the referee called for a free-kick, many supporters, including the very vocal Burnley fans, thought he might be sent-off. Thankfully, Muni was given just a yellow, and the following free-kick from Arfield was blocked by the wall.
Joe Allen replaced Xherdan Shaqiri mid-way through the half, and had the chance to make it 3-0. The ‘Welsh Pirlo’ was picked out in the box by Arnautovic, and it looked like a replica of Muniesa’s goal, but his effort was straight at Robinson.
Stoke didn’t look too good in the second half, as we seemed to be happy to hold onto our lead, seen through our substitutes, as Crouch and Whelan were brought on for Arnautovic and Adam. Burnley did create a god chance for themselves late on, but once again our man between the sticks was there to save us. Hendrick did brilliantly to flick the ball onto Gray, whose shot at goal was saved by the fingertips of Lee Grant, tipping it out of play.
And that is how it would end. Maybe not the most attractive victory of all time, but it was three valuable points nonetheless. Over the past few seasons we’ve seen games like this, where we are expected to win, end in a frustrating loss. But today we held on, and showed that this new formation may actually be the key to our success.
Final Score: Stoke City 2-0 Burnley
Goalscorers: Walters (10′), Muniesa (35′)