Stoke City started the New Year with a comfortable two-goal victory against Watford on Tuesday evening at the BET365 Stadium that left the struggling Hornets looking nervously over their shoulders.
The Potters edged a nervous opening forty-five minutes between two sides that have struggled to pick up results over the Christmas period, although in truth the overall quality of play on show was pretty poor. Deep into first-half injury time Ryan Shawcross was able to open the scoring with a neat left-footed half-volley from Charlie Adam’s corner and the hosts were able to double their lead immediately after the interval when Peter Crouch converted from close range.
Watford huffed and puffed but never truly looked like getting back into the game. Walter Mazzarri’s side were completely ineffective in the final third and were perhaps fortunate not to lose by a greater margin after Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters both wasted clear-cut chances in the closing stages of the game.
The victory means that Mark Hughes’ side climb up to eleventh place in the Premier League and The Potters will be hoping to generate a positive run of form that will lift them into the top half of the table. Meanwhile, Watford have now lost four of their last five fixtures and drop down to fourteenth, now only seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Stoke rediscover that winning feeling
Stoke City have found points hard to come by over the Christmas period after being handed a difficult run of fixtures during December that included away trips against Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. The Potters came into this contest having secured just two points from their previous five games but Mark Hughes’ side were able to comfortably dispatch a struggling Watford team with goals from Ryan Shawcross and Peter Crouch either side of half time.
The performance itself was not overly impressive. While Stoke were solid defensively, with Shawcross producing an outstanding performance at the heart of the defence, they struggled to find their rhythm and fluency in a game that was not always entirely easy on the eye. Charlie Adam was impressive in midfield and was able to showcase his varied range of passing whilst Peter Crouch, who has now scored twice in three days, was a constant danger with his aerial prowess. The Potters had also held a two-goal lead against Leicester City in their previous home match, but they never looked like capitulating in the same manner that allowed The Foxes to produce a comeback and earn a point.
Stoke now have three home games in their next four fixtures in all competitions and will undoubtedly be looking to climb back into the top half of the table.