Skip to content

Van Persie breaks drought as Man United top Stoke

Apr 14, 2013, 11:14 AM EDT

Can Tony Pulis save Crystal Palace? Getty Images

Is Geoff Cameron about to be playing second-level soccer? Stoke City’s relegation fears deepened today after a predictable 2-0 defeat to Manchester United.

When the United States international left the Houston Dynamo for England last August, he had reason to expect he was joining a club that would challenge for a place in the top half of the Premier League.

After promotion in 2008, the division’s most-physical, direct team had been a model of consistency, finishing comfortably in the middle of the standings each year. Just look at their total points in each of the past four seasons: 45, 47, 46, 45. Manager Tony Pulis has spent some decent money, too, lavishing $7.6 million last August to take playmaker Charlie Adam from Liverpool and going Texan again in January to prise Brek Shea from FC Dallas.

A solid roster, effective playing style, intimidating home crowd and ample Premier League experience: it was all set for Stoke to have a break-out year. Instead, they simply look broken.

Stoke’s form since January puts Pulis under intense scrutiny, with media talk suggesting his seven-year reign is under threat. They’ve collected only one point from their past seven matches and have won only once in the league since beating Liverpool 3-1 on December 26.

Among the 92 clubs in England’s top four divisions, only Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and David Moyes have stayed with their current employers longer than Pulis. But any manager would come under scrutiny with an ongoing run of 2-11-4 in all competitions. Stoke have the Premier League’s worst record since January and are only three points clear of the drop zone, having played two more fixtures than 18th-placed Wigan Athletic. Their grinding, aggressive tactics ought to mitigate against such a deep slump – but it looks like they’ve gone stale. It doesn’t help that key striker Peter Crouch is out-of-sorts with only five league goals, half his tally from 2011-12.

Cameron started at right back today but United prised open the defense after only four minutes, Michael Carrick poking in from a Van Persie corner. It was Carrick’s first league goal since January, 2012 – a woeful scoring rate for a midfielder of his talent.

Speaking of slumps, Van Persie had not found the net for his club since February 10 – an eternity given how prolific he has been in his first season at Old Trafford. But when defender Andy Wilkinson felled him midway through the second half, Van Persie stepped up to score the penalty. It was so windy that the ball initially rolled away from the penalty spot.

With Manchester City facing Chelsea in the FA Cup today, the win restored United’s Premier League lead to 15 points.

Stoke now face a trio of what look like season-defining games against fellow relegation-threatened sides: QPR, Norwich City and Sunderland. It shouldn’t be a fireable offense to lose to England’s best team – but try telling that to Sunderland’s ownership.

Latest Posts
  1. Xavi breaks record for Champions League appearances

    Sep 30, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    FC Barcelona v Club Leon - Joan Gamper Trophy Getty Images

    The Barcelona midfielder appeared in his 143rd Champions League match today.

  2. Kevin Mirallas could miss serious time for Everton

    Sep 30, 2014, 5:35 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Everton - Premier League Getty Images

    The Belgian international was taken off the pitch on a stretcher this weekend with an apparent hamstring injury.

  3. UEFA Champions League roundup: PSG beat Barcelona, Chelsea top Sporting

    Sep 30, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-PSG-BARCELONA AP

    Want a recap of all eight UCL games that took place across Europe on Tuesday? Look no further…

  4. Sporting CP 0-1 Chelsea: Blues win chippy UCL affair in Lisbon

    Sep 30, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT

    Chelsea dominated Sporting and should have won by more. AP

    Only Nemanja Matic, much to the chagrin of the Sporting crowd, could beat a fantastic Rui Patricio.

  5. Golden oldie: Francesco Totti becomes oldest scorer in Champions League history

    Sep 30, 2014, 3:37 PM EDT

    AS Roma Team Presentation Getty Images

    Magnifico from Totti, as Italian legend writes his name in the history books.

  6. Follow live – UEFA Champions League: Manchester City vs. AS Roma

    Sep 30, 2014, 2:18 PM EDT

    Will Yaya Toure and City get off to a winning start at St. James' on Sunday? Getty Images

    Moscow was skunked by Roma 5-1 in the first round of group matches, while City fell 1-0 to Bayern.

  7. Premier League Team of the Week: Find out who starred on Matchday 6

    Sep 30, 2014, 2:11 PM EDT

    Sunderland v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    Check out if your favorite player made it onto Round 6’s Team of the Week.

  8. UCL: Bayern Munich picks up win over CSKA Moscow in empty Arena Khimki

    Sep 30, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT

    APTOPIX Russia Soccer Champions League AP

    Mario Gotze drew a penalty that Thomas Muller finished, and Bayern Munich emerged victorious from a relatively-quiet stadium.

  9. PST’s Major League Soccer power rankings: More movement, just not No.1

    Sep 30, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT

    oscar_pareja AP

    The Los Angeles Galaxy are really, really good, while Chivas USA is across town and the PR table.

  10. USMNT legend McBride, Jaguars president helping select Fulham manager

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars Getty Images

    Fulham owner Shahid Khan is taking his time to make sure he gets things right this time around.

  11. Confirmed: Rooney out three Manchester United matches after red card

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:38 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Champions League AP

    Some called for his Manchester United captaincy over his lack of discipline, but two words: Roy Keane.

  12. Premier League player of the week – Round 6

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Hull City v Manchester City - Premier League Getty Images

    Which player ensured it would be back-to-back honors for a single team in the Premier League’s player of the week battle?

  13. PST’s MLS Player of the Week: An L.A. Galaxy guy for sure, but who?

    Sep 30, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT

    FC Dallas v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

    The result of the weekend, however, was L.A.’s 4-0 defeat of the New York Red Bulls, and several players deserved Man of the Match honors.

  14. Reports: Pardew safe at Newcastle for now despite another loss

    Sep 30, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Stoke City v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    Maybe, just maybe, Newcastle will win against Swansea City this week and take another step toward getting well.

  15. FC Santa Claus earns promotion, team broadcasters go ballistic (video)

    Sep 30, 2014, 7:52 AM EDT

    fcsantaclaus

    FC Santa Claus is bringing soccer matches to the good boys and girls of the Ykkonen.

  16. FIFA votes to eliminate third-party ownership

    Sep 29, 2014, 11:44 PM EDT

    Blatter AP

    Sepp Blatter confirmed FIFA voted strongly to eliminate third-party ownership in all professional settings, with a transitional period of a few years to be instituted immediately.

Featured video

Week 6: Premier League recap