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Premier League weekend preview

Five Aside

Hughes shocked by Stoke showing

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes said was shocked by the paucity of his side's performance in the 1-0 defeat to Norwich City as they lost at home for the first time this season.

Mark Hughes was baffled by Stoke's poor performance against Norwich.
Mark Hughes was baffled by Stoke's poor performance against Norwich.

It was a case of down to earth with a bump for a side who had outplayed Manchester City in their previous home game and then played well despite losing at Arsenal.

"We didn't see that coming," he said. "We had been training well enough, so it's disappointing and a mystery. There will be days when we don't get it right and the potential for days like this. But there's a bare minimum requirement of having so many players at the right level and we didn't have that today.

"Norwich played okay but we didn't make it difficult for them. That's the galling thing because we played well here last time and should have beaten Man City. To produce what we did here today is a real disappointment. We have to be brave in possession and brave out of possession and we weren't in this game.

"We never got a head of steam up or any momentum to ask questions of Norwich. It was quite easy for them."

Stoke were booed off at the end of a low-key game in which keeper Asmir Begovic will be unhappy at his part in Jonny Hewson's 34th-minute winner -- a well-struck long-range shot that might well have been kept out at the near post.

They managed only one on-target effort throughout, that a shot from well outside the area by Steven Nzonzi that John Ruddy fell on easily.

Stoke could have found salvation had referee Anthony Taylor spotted and acted on Leroy Fer's tug on the shirt of Kenwyne Jones before the striker's replacement by Peter Crouch at the three-quarter stage.

The midfielder admitted to a crafty pull on the jersey but Hughes was not in the mood for pleading hard-luck stories.

"It's a penalty but we're not going to hide behind that missed decision," he added. "Norwich deserved to win because we didn't do enough."

As well as letting down their supporters at large, Stoke had a smaller PR battle to wage when left-back Erik Pieters smashed the ball into the crowd in frustration and injured a fan.


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