stokecityfc.com’s Conor Shaw takes a look at five talking points from Saturday’s draw with Leicester City…
1. TAKE A BOW ALLEN
Credit where credit’s due – Joe Allen deserves plenty of it after his display against the Foxes.
The Welsh international found himself completely unfazed by the ability of Jamie Vardy, and the difficulties Shinji Okazaki throws up for opposition midfielders. Allen ran the show in the middle of the park and dealt with the Japanese striker’s pace and power in a confident manner throughout.
It is no secret that Stoke fans love a player who battles hard and fights for every ball, but combine that with superb attacking vision, and Allen is your man. The 27-year old never took his eye off the ball, and remained a key player for the Potters throughout the 90 minutes.
2. NOT FIT TO REFEREE
It isn’t something you see all too often, but low-and-behold it happened at the bet365 Stadium live in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Referee Robert Madley pulled up midway through the first half with a reported calf injury. Up stepped fourth official Jon Moss to enter the fray, with both sets of fans seeing the funny side and bellowing that familiar chant from the terraces.
Coincidentally, the game appeared to spark into life after Moss’ introduction. You could not have written the script.
3. TACTICAL INTELLIGENCE
Mark Hughes stuck with the same valiant starting XI who won at Watford last time out.
However, after going 2-1 down against the Foxes, the Welshman made changes – switching to a 4-4-2 formation that saw Mame Diouf move to a more comfortable forward role through the middle of the park alongside second half sub Peter Crouch.
Within just four minutes of being introduced, Crouch headed home the equaliser which pulled the game back to 2-2, with the new formation suiting the Potters who broke down Leicester’s ability to create chances inthe final 15 minutes.
4. CALM IN THE BOX
Talk about being calm in the penalty area.
Only one man knows how to pop up with a collected header, and that is Peter Crouch. His goal lifted the bet365 Stadium, so could his impactful introduction catch the watchful eye of England manager Gareth Southgate…who knows?
One thing’s for sure, his third goal from off the bench won’t hinder his chances or desire to regain a place in the Potters' starting XI.
Meanwhile, Xherdan Shaqiri’s equaliser halted the Swiss’ run of six consecutive goals from outside the area – but the City winger certainly kept his composure to achieve City’s first equaliser on Saturday.
Maxim Choupo-Moting popped up with another assist in a Stoke shirt, as he slipped the ball through to Shaqiri who coolly slotted past the on-running Kasper Schmeichel.
5. BENCH BOOST FOR CROUCH
Breaking records is becoming the norm for Peter Crouch, and his introduction on the 69th minute brings him close to making yet another one.
With 142 Premier League appearances from the bench, only Shola Ameobi – now at Notts County - has the same number of substitute appearances meaning Crouch will break that record when he next steps off the subs bench.
“I shouldn’t be too proud of that one,” the forward joked after the game.
Starting or off the bench, keep those goals coming Crouchy!