Tony Pulis: You can’t score twice at home and lose the gamePosted: November 20, 2011
After only conceding on average one goal every three games at home in all competitions this season up until October 26th, Stoke City conceded three goals in the space of 90 minutes at the Britannia Stadium for the second consecutive Premier League occasion yesterday as Queens Park Rangers became the third consecutive side to win there.
Prior to Tony Pulis’ team exiting the Carling Cup at the end of last month, Stoke had won seven times at home already this season, conceding just twice – Hadjuk Split and FC Thun (during Europa League qualification), Liverpool, Tottenham (on penalties), Besiktas, Fulham and Maccabi Tel-Aviv had all left empy handed. Only Chelsea and Manchester United had gone to the Britannia Stadium this season and avoided defeat (taking a 0-0 and 1-1 draw away with them respectively).
Much has been made of their results immediately following each of their Europa League group games. The Potters are in the best position of any of the five British teams involved in the competition with two group games remaining, but the league fixtures schedule has seen them play away from home domestically on each of the weekends that have followed their four European group ties, and they have lost each of the four Premier League games afterwards.
Consistent defeats away from home after Europa League group games is one thing, but their recent results at the Britannia is a new problem. There’s no doubt if both issues were to continue then Stoke would start to really struggle. The central defensive pairing from last season, skipper Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth, were back together, while summer signings Matt Upson (benched) and Jonathan Woodgate (injured) made way yesterday. Pulis also changed his goalkeeper for the first time this league campaign. Asmir Begovic was dropped on the back of the stats from his previous three appearances (11 goals conceded). Yet the inclusion in his place of Thomas Sorensen, who had only previously played in the cup games this season, didn’t prevent another disappointing outcome and what the manager described as “soft goals” conceded.
Stoke were denied two penalty claims by referee Mike Jones, which might have altered the result and papered over the cracks, but it wouldn’t have entirely changed the scoreline. QPR 3 would have remained.