Against West Ham on Saturday, Stoke City had the majority of the possession, passed around the ball in neat triangles, and put in considered shots from all sides of the area. Yes, you read that right. Mark Hughes’ managerial experiment seems to be coming together for the Potters, even if his side still couldn’t manage to put the ball in the back of the net.
Wait, what’s that you say? Stoke did manage to break though the organized West Ham defense and get a goal? That means Stoke head into the international break with six points to their name, which is certainly more than most would have wagered when the season began. West Ham, meanwhile, suffer their first defeat of the season, all thanks to an 82nd minute goal from Jermaine Pennant.
The majority of the chances came from the visitors, who even forced Jussi Jaaskelainen into an impressive double save in the 22nd minute. The West Ham keeper managed to stop Marc Wilson’s shot from outside the area before blocking Jonathan Walters’ attempt from close range.
The home side didn’t really kick into gear until the second half, preferring just to keep Stoke out during the first 45. But even though the Hammers made a couple attempts to get the ball in goal, they didn’t manage to put a single shot on target. Will Sam Allardyce now be worried that his system is breaking down?
Hughes, certainly, will be jubilant. Sure, his side didn’t put many of their attempts on target, either, but Pennant’s late goal makes that little fact irrelevant. Winston Reid earned a yellow for his foul on Glenn Whelan, just outside the area. Pennant sent in a direct free kick from about 22 yards out, leaving a diving Jaaskelainen helpless.
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel, O’Brien, Collins, Reid, Noble (Collison 84), Diame (Lee 88), Nolan, Downing (Morrison 64), Jarvis, Maiga
Subs not used: Adrián, Tomkins, Taylor, Rat
Stoke City; Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters; Walters, Nzonzi, Wilson, Adam, Etherington (Pennant 76); Jones
Subs not used: Jerome, Muniesa, Assaidi, Crouch, Sørensen