Tranmere Rovers v Stoke City - Capital One Cup Third Round

Mark Hughes fumes, as Stoke denied “two stonewall penalties” in Fulham loss

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LONDON — Stoke City manager Mark Hughes wasn’t happy with the officiating in his teams 1-0 loss at Fulham on Saturday, but he was more than happy with the Potters display.

Post-game, Hughes lambasted the officials for not giving Stoke two first half penalties and felt that his side didn’t deserve to lose the game.

“I think in terms of the team most likely to win the game, I thought that was us,” Hughes said. “I think we had a lot of control on the game, we tried to create opportunities for ourselves. We had some clear opportunities on set plays and good opportunities to pick the right pass but never quite did it. But in terms of the team more likely to win the game, I felt it was totally us.”

(MORE: Fulham 1-0 Stoke City: Bent’s late goal seals win for Cottagers)

But it wasn’t to be.

Hughes believes those two early penalty decisions, as Philippe Senderos took down Stephen Ireland and Fernando Amorebieta appeared to have hauled down Johnathan Walters in the box, were pivotal.

The latter was given for a foul outside the box, when it looked like a penalty, and Hughes wasn’t happy with Fulham winger Pajtim Kasami pushing Erik Pieters, either.

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Mark Hughes shows his disappointment, as decisions went against his side.

“We should have had two penalties and the boy Kasami should have been sent off in my view,” Hughes said. “Those are key moments that shape the outcome of the game. Those are the ones you want the referee and his officials to get right. Unfortunately it affected us in a negative way. Given the time of those incidents, it would have swung the game totally in our direction.”

Stoke have only scored four goals in their opening seven Premier League games this season, so Hughes mixed things up a little by playing Marco Arnautovic up top with Stephen Ireland supporting him. But the Potters only came close through set pieces, as Robert Huth twice had headers cleared off the line by Sascha Riether, and Stoke’s central defender also headed over in a purple patch of chances in the second half.

Hughes is concerned with the lack of goals, but admits it’s a problem that’s plagued Stoke even when Tony Pulis was their manager in the past.

“I wasn’t disappointed with the performance today,” Hughes said. “It was a much better level. I’ve been more than happy with what we’re trying to produce. The end product is something we need to address because we’re not getting on the end of things and not taking chances when we do create them. But that’s been the bug bear of the team for quite some time, even before I came.”

And staying with the theme of his post-match conference, Hughes thinks his side were hard done by, and that Fulham got lucky to grab all three points.

“Over the course of the 90 minutes I think we deserved to get something,” Hughes said. “They got a break, a misplaced pace from ourselves, and were able to play a ball into the box. A couple of ricochets and it lands at Darren Bent’s feet. He is the one guy you don’t want in those situations.”

Premier League AT HALF: Arsenal fights back, Hull City on top

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal (L) and Francis Coquelin of Arsenal (R) celebrate after Theo Walcott of Arsenal (not pictured) scored Arsenals first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City

Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.

Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth

The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.

But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.

Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a

Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland

Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.

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Koeman: “Nervous” Everton has a problem after another loss

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Ronald Koeman manager of Everton arrives prior to the Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on December 10, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.

Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.

The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.

Here’s Koeman:

“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”

A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?

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VIDEO: Hendrick scores incredible volley from distance

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Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.

Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game online ] 

A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.

Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.

Click play on the video above to watch it.

Messi’s latest goal dares you to count the touches (video)

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 10:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and FC Barcelona at Sadar stadium on December 10, 2016 in Pamplona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.

So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.

[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]

On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.

That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.

Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.

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