MARK HUGHES highlighted the lack of cutting edge in the final third as the biggest benefactor to his side's 3-1 defeat against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Potters enjoyed their fair share of possession, particularly during the second 45 minutes, however they were rarely able to break through a resolute Arsenal backline.
Speaking to Stoke City Player following the game, the Welshman declared himself pleased with the application his side showed against the current league leaders, but acknowledged that there is still room for improvement.
"It's still a work in progress and we shouldn't forget that," Hughes said. "There were a lot of positives to take away with us, particularly with the way that we controlled the game, especially in the second half.
"There were a number of opportunities in the final third of the pitch where we needed to anticipate things a little bit better.
"We work hard every single day, and I can see improvements with every game that we play. We have had a very difficult run of fixtures but I am very much encouraged with how we are progressing.
"We are playing a different style of football, and in the long term it will help us to progress on the field."
Hughes also believes that Bacary Sagna's headed goal eighteen minutes from time all but ended his side's hopes of forging what he believes would have been an inevitable leveller.
"I thought we had a lot of control of the game during the second half, and the third goal came at a bad time for us because we were really on top of things and looked the far more likely of the two teams to get the next goal," he added.
"If we could have held out for a while I really think we would have gone and scored a second goal because their energy levels were dropping. That goal really took the game away from us, which was disappointing from our point of view.
"Unfortunately we let ourselves down a little bit today with our work on set-plays, because you never expect to concede three goals from set-plays against Arsenal to be perfectly honest.
"In terms of what we tried to do though, and with the football that we played I was reasonably happy with what I saw from the players, and as I said before there are a lot of positives to take away with us."