VB Weekend Winners and Losers
Yes, Stoke are a tough cookie and don't lose much at home but the lack of threat carried in the second half, especially after a very good first half was borderline criminal.
It may surprise others that this was the first Premier League game in which we FAILED to score a goal, which is a shame as it was a good record up to Saturday.
But who at least tried to claw back some pride? Who really didn't?
Phil Jones - For my money the best outfield player in blue and white. He stuck to what he knew and that was to use his strength, power and determination to act as a glue between midfield and attack.
The roaming forward was kept to a minimum for once but his presence was required in a defensive capacity pretty much all through out the game as the full backs struggled to cope with Stoke's Etherington and Pennant.
The only problem we have with Jones now is that he is becoming too important to drop, which would go back on Sam Allardyce's promise to use him sparingly which was made at the start of the season.
At this point in time I can't see the merit in dropping him? He is a much better option in that holding spot than Grella (too injury prone) and N'Zonzi (struggling for form).
Paul Robinson - Kept Rovers in it in the second half with three barn storming saves and some assured commanding of his area.
One stop in particular down low to his left was absolutely first class and showed a certain element of trust has been built between back four and the stopper.
If anyone deserved a clean sheet at the Britannia it was Robbo.
Rovers definitely have problems to address for now but none of them are with their Number One.
Ryan Nelsen - The best of the back four.
Whilst in recent weeks it has very much been the Chris Samba show back there in the trenches but on Saturday afternoon it was Nelsen who put in a more solid effort.
With the more attacking, front fronted players Rovers had to offer, producing very little as the game wore on, the pressure was cranked up increasingly on Ryan and the boys.
And if there is a cauldron of pressure building on your goal, there is no-one better than Nelsen for the battle.
It wasn't an award winning display by any means and he has played better but those 7/10 performances are what we needed more of from the members of the defence.
Error free and steady as you like.
Steven N'Zonzi - In this spot purely because he displayed his passing showed the accuracy of a an American machine gun using movie star.
I honestly cannot remember one pass that reached a team mate... which when your passes barely surpass the ten yard range is quite an achievement!
Big Sam was right when he said last season's successes may have gone to his head because a certain care-free arrogance has engulfed his game.
There was nothing wrong with his tackling (despite MOTD's efforts) and his work rate is still passable but this is not the Zonz of last season.
Back to basics Steven.
Morten Gamst Pedersen - An utterly anonymous display from a man who should be stomping his talents on the game.
Stoke were too big and crowded the more finesses based Morten out of the game, his set piece delivery was iffy and when given the chance to create he was too pedestrian.
As clearer indication as any that we miss Dave Dunn.
Big Sam Allardyce - Got this match horribly wrong. Said before the game that he would make changes to combat Stoke but all the alterations made were at best average and at worst useless.
Why use Givet at left back when Pennant was bound to be out there? Martin Olsson was fit and has more pace.
For all his promise Mame Biram Diouf is not a lone striker, he can't hold up the ball and is much better when facing goal. He may not be flavour of the month but if you are intent on resting Niko then why not use Jason Roberts? He may not be a goal getter but no sane person would deny he can hold up play.
Using Brett Emerton was a fair call after his goal last weekend but tucking him inside nullified the threat he can carry.
Real Madrid and Inter will not be pleased.
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