Stoke City pulled off a massive three points at the Britannia on Saturday, beating Aston Villa 2-1 to move into 10th place, seven points clear of the drop. Meanwhile Villa may be six points clear, but their woes continue, with the side notching their third straight loss.
As many predicted, the first half of Stoke – Villa didn’t exactly thrill. In fact, the most exciting moment was likely when Marc Wilson was shown a yellow card for taking out Villa forward Andi Weimann. As the Austrian was clear on goal, it appeared as though the Stoke defender should’ve been shown a red card, and Villa awarded a penalty. Instead, the hosts got away with just a yellow.
Mark Hughes made a smart change to start off the second half, replacing Marko Arnautović with Charlie Adam. But the Stoke boss didn’t instruct his team to change their style of play — no, the goal, coming five minutes after the restart, came courtesy of a long ball. Peter Crouch knocked it down, and Adam pounced, slipping the ball past Brad Guzan and into the bottom corner.
The visitors found their equalizer just fifteen minutes later, when Libor Kozák capitalized on an error from Erik Pieters. The Stoke fullback couldn’t get the ball out of danger and it fell to the feet of Kozák, who had no trouble slotting past Asmir Begović, while Pieters stood by with reddened cheeks.
Yet Stoke refused to let Villa take them down, and, in less than five minutes, pulled ahead once more. The visitors’ defense was the one that went to pieces this time, although one might ask why, exactly, Paul Lambert chose to have the 5’8″ Chris Herd marking Peter Crouch, a full foot taller than the Villa man. Crouch had no trouble getting on the end of a ball from Geoff Cameron and putting the ball past Guzan.
Stoke City: Begović, Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters, Walters, Nzonzi, Arnautović (Adam 46), Whelan, Assaidi (Pennant 72), Crouch
Goals: Adam 50′; Crouch 70
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Clark, Herd, Baker, Westwood, Delph, Tonev (Bowery 67), Albrighton (Bacuna 81), Weimann, Kozák
Goals: Kozák 66′