By Chris Wright
They may have lost in the end, but Stoke City – as is their wont – didn’t make things easy for Chelsea at the Britannia last night.
The major talking point was a buffeting tackle from Phil Bardsley on Eden Hazard which sent the Belgian arse-over-tit on the touchline and earned the Stoke defender a yellow card for his troubles…
Many of the more sensitive observers out there seem to think Bardsley’s foul merited a straight red, but we’re having none of that gobbledegook.
That’s definitely what a yellow card tackle used to look like in the olden days – you know, before the entire sport went unofficially non-contact.
Nothing in it as far as we’re concerned. A little bit dirty, yes; deliberately intended to scythe down the prissy winger, yes; but not really dangerous.
The booking was perfectly sufficient.
However, we can’t really defend Charlie Adam, who had several goes at chucking an elbow at Andre Schurrle in the second half…
What has happened to Adam over these past few years? There was a time when he was the man whose set-piece delivery was “worth £10million alone“.
Now he’s just settled into this caricature-ish role as Stoke’s filthy, elbow-swinging, lumpy, Sunday League-esque “hardman”.
Elsewhere, footballing throwback Jonathan Walters also got stuck in – wrestling Didier Drogba to the ground by clamping on a good ol’ fashioned sleeper hold/snuggly cuddle…
Aww. How sweet. A dirty bastard with a heart of gold.
We kind of harbour a begrudging respect for Stoke, if we’re honest.
After all, it’s as valid a way of approaching games as any other, we suppose – making life a misery for high-falutin’ opponents by playing right on the jagged edge.
It’s not like they actually upset anything. Nature still managed to take its course: they lost, the big boys won but went home with shins full of bruises.
Stoke gon’ Stoke.