Stoke City 2-0 Manchester City


Marko Arnautovic scored twice to hand Stoke City a superb victory over Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Xherdan Shaqiri created both of Arnautovic’s first-half goals in an inspired performance by the Swiss.

Arnautovic nudged home Shaqiri’s cross for the opener and then finished off a perfectly weighted through ball from his team-mate.

Man City, with Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure out injured, lacked ideas and have not won in four away league games.

The few chances they did create were met by the impressive Jack Butland, as the Stoke keeper kept out efforts from Kevin de Bruyne and Aleksandar Kolarov with sharp saves.

Former Basel and Bayern Munich midfielder Shaqiri had not set the world alight for the Potters so far this term after arriving from Inter Milan in the summer.

But the man nicknamed the Alpine Messi – for his similarities to Lionel Messi in both stature and creative ability – tore Manchester City apart with ease.

He strode past three visiting players before providing the cross for the opener and regularly found Arnautovic with penetrating balls behind the defence.

Stoke, who sit in mid-table, have built up a reputation for being a sturdy and uninspiring side, but the Potters’ attacking four of Arnautovic, Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay and Bojan Krkic provided movement and verve to show that Mark Hughes’ team are evolving and progressing.

Manuel Pellegrini bemoaned his side’s injury situation after the game, particularly the absence of defender Vincent Kompany.

Belgian Kompany has not featured since early November because of a calf injury. His side have conceded just once with him on the pitch this term and let in 15 without him.

But the visitors were toothless going forward, with Aguero’s stand-in Wilfried Bony barely seeing the ball and creators-in-chief De Bruyne and David Silva constantly closed down by Stoke pressure.

Pellegrini introduced Jesus Navas, Fabian Delph and Kelechi Iheanacho early in the second half in an attempt to rescue the game, but that only led to his side playing the final 15 minutes with 10 men as Fernandinho hobbled off with a hamstring problem. What they said

Stoke manager Mark Hughes: “It was a great performance by the guys. Each and every one of them put in a high-level performance and as a consequence of that we were able to win against the team top of the pile.

“We played with an energetic three in midfield, we were on the front foot in midfield and we unsettled them. We always had a threat up front.

“We haven’t played Bojan right up front before but I have been close to doing it in the past. We needed to retain possession in key areas and the three up top allowed us to do that.”

Stoke midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri: “We tried this [partnership with Marko Arnautovic] all week in training so we of course are happy that we scored in the game like this.

“We have a very good team, we can win against every team in the Premier League.”

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: “We had a lack of reaction, too many games for the same players.

“We defended very badly but we also had not too many chances to score. We are playing with 13 players in all competitions. It was a defeat.

“I always miss important names, but you have to play with the players you have. We must continue with the same 11 or 12 players.”

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