Steve Says: Fulham vs Stoke Post-match Review
As the crowds dispersed from Craven Cottage this evening, no doubt many fans – Stoke and Fulham alike would have been shaking their heads at the result after the game they had just seen. Just seven days earlier Fulham were battered by a resolute Cardiff side who snatched 90th minute victory after laying siege to the Cottager’s goal for the majority of the game, with only Ruiz’s worldy keeping them in the running.
Similar story this afternoon with one major difference. Fulham’s smash and grab proving effective against a Stoke side bereft of any finishing power. Despite more possession, creating good chances, good use of width, Stoke were only able to turn one shot on target from 16 chances.
Fulham were lucky to escape early in the first half with Kasami appearing to flail his hand against the head of Eric Pieters, and some minutes later, Steven Ireland was clearly felled in the box by Senderos with the referee waving against the protests. At this point, Fulham could not have felt hard done to if down to ten men and at least one penalty against them. Comment must be made about Pieters reaction to the hand though – it is not nice to see a grown man going down like he has been shot. Later, Jon Walters was played in by a super ball from Ireland, had his shirt-pulled by Amorebieta – however he carried on his run into the box and was then felled by said defender catching his heels whilst falling. The referee awarded a free kick for the original offence rather than a penalty which was an astounding decision.
In the second half after the first five minutes, Stoke dictated the tempo of the game, Arnautovic chancing his aim on several occasions from long range. Whilst it is great to see a player confident enough to do so, he must ensure on future occasions he is hitting the target as stats of 7 shots, 1 on target, 1 blocked, 5 off target are not great if a player is going to be somewhat greedy.
It was Darren Bent however who was to receive the ball fortunately after Kasami’s shot hit Shawcross to show great composure, check onto his left foot to evade Huth’s tackle and clinically finish calmly into the Stoke goal.
Despite the result there are positives to take from the game – Assaidi looked pacey and skilful after coming on, Ireland is growing into the role and Arnautovic looks very classy. Jon Walters had a good game and was desperately unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after a very good run. Nzonzi and Wilson did not have their best game in the holding roles although the defensive backline were more than adequate given Fulham’s lack of pressure – with Shawcross unlucky to have the ball come off him in the lead-up to Fulham’s goal.
West Brom up next, at home, 19th October following the International break. We always beat West Brom the mantra goes. This time, I wouldn’t be so sure.
General Stats (Yellow – Fulham, White – Stoke)
(Blue – Short Passes, Orange – Crosses, Purple – Long Balls)
Stoke had more possession and a high degree of pass completion. However this was tempered by less passes completed in the opposition third, yet still created a total of 16 shots compared to Fulham’s 9. Stoke also attempted a lot of crosses through the game (27 to 19).
Fulham had few shots during the game, majority from outside the area, with four blocked. Only three shots from inside the area, one over, one saved and one being the Darren Bent winner. Defensively Stoke did their job well and the Fulham attack struggled to create good opportunities.
Stoke on the other hand, had plenty of shots, but the story is reminiscent of Norwich last week. Lots of shots blocked and off target, with only one attempt forcing a save from the Fulham goalkeeper.
Passing and Chances
Fulham only successfully managed to feed five successful balls into the box from wide positions, the Stoke defence were excellent at cutting out potential danger.
Stoke were much more successful from the wide areas, and plenty of balls were crossed in – heightening the use of wide areas. 11 of 27 finding their way to a Stoke player could definitely be better but encouraging use of the ball.
Fulham were stifled in the creation of chances, just one inside the box (their goal)
Stoke created plenty of chances both inside, and outside the box, however there needs to be a significant improvement in the culmination of these chances. Stats only mean so much if you are coming away empty-handed from games despite being so dominant.