STOKE CITY prolonged their impressive run of form and elevated themselves into the top half of the table for the first time this season courtesy of a comfortable triumph over Burnley on Saturday afternoon.
Jonathan Walters got the ball rolling with an absolutely sensational opener midway through the first half before Marc Muniesa netted his first Premier League goal to double the advantage 10 minutes before the interval.
There were opportunities to have broken the deadlock even earlier in the afternoon with Bruno Martins Indi rattling the woodwork from close range, whilst Clarets midfielder Dean Marney sliced well over the bar when well positioned.
Sean Dyche’s side made a bright start to the game and put the home side under plenty of early pressure, but once that first goal arrived then there was only one side who looked likely to claim the points on offer.
And what a goal the maiden one of the afternoon proved to be as Walters exquisitely clipped Mame Diouf’s ball into the box over ‘keeper Paul Robinson, on the volley, before watching his effort hit the back of the net via the inside of the post.
The goal certainly set the visitors back and gave the hosts a platform to build upon, one that they grasped with both hands as they turned the screw and put themselves into an even better position 10 minutes before the break.
More slick interchange, which started with the impressive Muniesa, saw Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic link up to devastating effect with the latter pulling the ball back across the 18-yard box straight into the path of the oncoming Spanish defender, who finished with real aplomb.
Burnley offered some resistance in the second period, as was to be expected, but despite the efforts of Andre Gray and substitute Sam Vokes there was no way through a rugged and determined Potters backline.
On loan Derby stopper Lee Grant enjoyed relatively quiet afternoon, but even on the odd occasion he was called into action he provided the answers to the questions posed to him by the desperate Clarets.
He saved brilliantly to deny Gray from a tight angle in the first-half and then made an even better stop to fingertip the striker’s close range effort around the post as Dyche’s troops looked to drag themselves back into the game late on.
As it was, the hosts should have added further gloss to the scoreline late on with Arnautovic narrowly failing to make contact with a pinpoint ball forward from Allen, whilst the Welshman, who started the game on the bench, forced the evergreen Paul Robinson into two good saves late on.
For the visitors it proved to be yet another away day to forget this season, having now claimed just one point on the road, whilst for Hughes’ men the result represented a fifth win in seven and a spot in ninth place in the league table.