STOKE CITY suffered the same fate at the bet365 Stadium as they did back in April as Tottenham Hotspur inflicted a 4-0 defeat upon Mark Hughes’ side.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men were rightly lauded for their sensational showing as they chased Leicester City in the race for the Premier League title four months earlier, and they displayed their credentials for the crown once more on Saturday.
Ironically, it was the Potters who started the game brighter and maybe should have been ahead, well before Son Heung-Min opened his afternoon’s account from close range just four minutes before the half-time interval.
That goal though, coupled with Mark Hughes’ controversial sending off from the touchline, left the hosts with it all to do ion the second half, and they failed to recover as two quick-fire goals on the hour mark effectively put the game to bed.
What made that even more agonising was the fact that skipper Ryan Shawcross watched agonisingly on as his close range effort flew past Hugo Lloris, and frustratingly the wrong side of the post as the home side looked to draw themselves level.
However, Son, who was linked with a £30M move back to Germany last month, produced a moment of individual brilliance to double the visitors lead moments later, before Dele Alli added his name to the scoresheet.
The home side huffed and puffed in a bid to try and salvage some form of consolation, but despite the best attempts of Wilfried Bony, who was one of two debutants on show, and Jonathan Walters, it was the visitors who added gloss to their showing.
Some slick interchange between Son and Alli culminated in the ball being drilled across goal to Harry Kane, who took one touch and then opened his account for the season from close range, and in the process reaching 50 league goals for the club in just 87 appearances.
Wilfried Bony and Bruno Martins-Indi were thrust straight into action as Mark Hughes named the pair in his starting line-up for the first time.
Both players arrived in season-long loan deals on transfer deadline day, and the Welshman was impressed sufficiently enough to hand them their Potters debuts.
Bony looked a real menace during the first period as he linked up superbly well with his new teammates, whilst Martins-Indi certainly wasn’t at fault for any of the four goals the visitors scored.
It’s almost impossible to judge the pair on this showing, but they will be determined to help the Potters improve their fortunes over the coming weeks and months.
A managerial dismissal can now be added to the Potters ever growing list of officiating grievances this season.
The Potters have already suffered the misfortune of two controversial, yet ultimately decisive, penalties being given against them during the opening weeks of the campaign, and Mark Hughes’ sending off was the latest matchday talking point.
The City boss was sent to the stands by referee Anthony Taylor after fourth official Jonathan Moss reported the Welshman for his touchline behaviour towards the end of the first-half.
Hughes was clearly incandescent by the referee’s decision to book Marko Arnautovic for going down too easily, as he dived out of the way of a high challenge from a Tottenham defender.
But he was quite right in venting his frustrations after Son Heung-Min appeared to have gone down very easily inside the box as he looked to earn the visitors a penalty earlier in the afternoon.
Once more consistency was the issue, and it was Hughes, and his players, who were left to pay the ultimate price.