Darren Fletcher Football Genius. Darren Fletcher Football Genius. Darren Fletcher Football Genius. Unfortunately on Saturday just gone it looked like he still was as both himself and Joe Allen passed, moved, found space over and over again. They didn’t dominate the game as such and didn’t charged around the place creating chance after chance but they certainly dictated the game at times. That’s a worry when they were up against Pogba, Herrera and Matic in the middle of the park.
If that wasn’t frustrating enough then the result certainly was. You hear it all the time “I wouldn’t want to be playing Stoke on a Tuesday night in December” due to the dreadful weather and playing conditions. Well this was a pleasant Saturday evening and we still seemed to struggle, especially first half when they just sat in and then tried to break on us quickly. We played straight into their hands and had no pace about us at all which worked perfectly for them.
I had a cracking view towards the top of the away stand and right behind the goal, you could see the playing formation and tactics of both teams from the off. Most annoyingly with all our pace and attacking options we just didn’t get at them. Then just before half-time it was the men I mentioned above, Allen won the ball and found Fletcher, he looked up and spread the ball wide quickly to Diouf. He had all the time in the world to then cross from the right as Darmian was nowhere near him, he did that and someone by the name of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored. Brilliantly though we did hit back straight away from a corner, I might have missed that if they’d have been selling beer in the ground.
Second half was a bit better and when we did start running at them and our pace of going forward was quicker we created chances. Darmian made up for his first half error by breaking down the left quickly, he cut inside and found Mkhitaryan who slid the ball through to Lukaku. Jack Butland made a brilliant save but Lukaku was up quick to tap in the rebound for his fourth league goal of the season.
Pogba then took a whack to the head in the middle of the park, the referee should have stopped play but in my opinion Pogba should be getting up quicker than that. It was nothing serious. He didn’t though and Stoke should have scored but for a truly outstanding save at close range from De Gea. From the resulting corner Choupo-Moting scored again, this time a header as his marker Phil Jones fell to the floor. Lukaku should have won the game for us later on but missed an easy chance on the half. Sometime we need to earn a victory and on Saturday I don’t believe we did. Still the Stoke fans were very happy and were celebrating like they’d actually beat us. A bad day at the office but you have them throughout the season, we’ve been pretty spot on so far as a team this season so let’s just call this a blip and move on.
Up next, the return of the Champions League as we welcome FC Basel tonight. See you in the ground!