For all of the genius that was Harry switching to 3-5-2 at halftime, I really think he missed a trick not starting with Sandro instead of VDV. Reason being we have started games slowly recently and Stoke were always going to come out all guns blazing and trying to rough us up. It was imperative we start solidly and not give away an early goal. To score twice here was always going to be difficult, even without an atrocious referee, so we needed to be strong and solid defensively for the first half. Surely playing Sandro and Parker together in front of the back four with Modric being much more adept at linking them and the widemen to Ade that VDV would have given us a much more solid platform from which to beat both Stoke and the referee. I hope the referee gets suspended for at least as long as Younes will.
We had to lose at some point and losing away to Stoke is something league champions can easily do, so no need to overdo the pessimism, and the second half performance showed the mental attitude that this year’s team has shown before, we just didn’t have the luck today in any shape or form and took too long to get going in the first half.
On another note the pitch looked awful which I’m sure the groundsmen are very proud of. Something that lumpy prevents slick passing and doesn’t affect the headers and volleys game that Stoke pride themselves on.
The amazing thing isn’t the state of the pitch, but the size of it. The aesthetically hideous refusing-to-fade lines of the previous pitch size served to remind us throughout the game that Stoke were at liberty to shrink the pitch to suit their rugby football.
When neither the surface nor the officiating team are giving you the space to express your obvious footballing advantage over the opposition what hope is there?