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Stoke City 2-3 Coventry City

This game didn't really go as many thought it would. A win was always possible, but the manner in which Coventry approached the game is the most pleasing aspect in analysis.

This analysis will be in two parts.

First part: Stoke attack/Coventry defense.

Early on, it looked as though it might be a repeat of the two previous games. Long ball, chase it down, make them play long, hope for a chance. Here you see Stoke (4-1-2 with 3 defenders out of shot) playing that long ball. However, Coventry are organized (5-2 with McFadzean attacking the ball) with pressure and support around the ball mean Stoke cannot get a hold of the ball and the game is open, but scrappy.

Beyond the initial probes, Stoke started to get on the ball and ask a few more questions.

They had success in a couple of different ways:

Clucas and Powell were exceptional at finding spaces between the Coventry lines.

Here Powell drops to receive the ball. It does two things - Allows the wingback Smith to push forward, and also pulls Hamer from his defensive midfield partnership with Kelly.

The result, though blurry, is a huge gap and disorganization. Smith's run is now pinning Coventry deeper as Powell plays a ball over the top.

Another way was capitalizing on Coventry leaving gaps in transition. Coventry lose the ball and, as they begin to press, the deep line that has been so reliable in previous games becomes a problem with being too far away. The left center back, Norrington-Davies, is able to break the line and drive at the retreating defensive line.

Coventry did hold firm, though were pressured by a Stoke team that seemed to lack the killer instinct. Coventry got the goal before half time and limited Stoke to only 1 chance on goal. Bringing on Fletcher (7 shots in the second half, including the flash off of the bar) and Mikel at half time was much needed, but not by Coventry.

That change instantly began to ask questions, as you see here with Fletcher running in behind as Powell looks to split the Coventry defense. Again, this is a transition moment as Stoke counter-attack and Matty James is isolated against the direct attack with the deep line behind him.