Walters and Joselu impress as Stoke cruise past Watford
It was back to winning ways for Mark Hughes and his Stoke side as they put the nightmare of their previous league performance to bed with a comfortable and convincing 2-1 win over Watford.
The Potters dominated from the outset and the introduction of some much-needed tempo and movement meant they looked an entirely different proposition to the one that lost 2-1 at home to Southampton on March 12.
Hughes' changes were able to impose themselves despite ongoing rotation due to injury and that is a credit to their collective attitude and application. Their efforts on the pitch were matched only by the one in the stands with the sell-out away following playing their part in a well-deserved victory.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Jack Butland, 6 -- A disappointing game from the young goalkeeper, who showed more indecision when he was expected to come and collect an opposition through-ball. Was lucky his fumble in the air wasn't punished but will be unhappy he let Troy Deeney's header squirm into the goal, setting up a frantic finale.
DF Phil Bardsley, 8 -- The surprise performance of the match as he charged up and down the touchline, putting some tantalising crosses into the box. His ball in for Jon Walters to open the scoring was inch perfect and only the assistant referee's incorrectly raised flag denied him a second assist of the afternoon.
DF Geoff Cameron, 7 -- An unsettled performance from the American, who was shifted into the centre of defence in Ryan Shawcross' absence. Often found wanting up field with his usually impressive anticipation deserting him.
DF Philipp Wollscheid, 8 -- Stepped up his game to comfortably deal with the pace and power of Watford's strikers. Was strong in the tackle and his distribution was back to its impressive best.
DF Marc Muniesa, 7 -- A mixed game from the crowd favourite, who moved over to the left to cover for the stricken Erik Pieters. Was assured stepping forward in possession but not as confident on the back foot. Put in some impressive crosses from a position that arguably best suits his abilities.
MF Ibrahim Afellay, 8 -- Another impressive game from the man keeping Bojan Krkic on the bench. Enjoyed the freedom of a floating brief, contributing to attacks all across the front line and was unlucky not to have grabbed a goal for his efforts.
MF Glenn Whelan, 8 -- His defensive discipline was crucial in the first period when his colleagues were breaking forward at will. Gave fans a scare in the second half when he grabbed his hamstring but battled through his obvious discomfort to help his team secure all three points.
MF Giannelli Imbula, 8 -- Back to his powerful best, linking play with his driving runs forward from deep. His 60-yard dribble forward was key to the ball finding its way to Bardsley to cross for the opener. A joy to watch.
FW Jonathan Walters, 8 -- An impressive showing from a player who always looks better after a period on the bench. Compensated for a couple of poor decisions in the opening exchanges by scoring the opener and playing an exquisite first time cushioned pass for his side's second.
FW Joselu, 9 -- The latest player to be given a chance as the leading striker and it was one he took with both hands. Has a tendency to be pulled out of position but his touch and technique are beyond doubt. His goal was brilliantly taken and his tenacity meant he finished as the top tackler on the pitch.
FW Marko Arnautovic, 8 -- Contested an ongoing, physical duel with Allan Nyom and caused the Watford backline trouble throughout. Had a goal wrongly disallowed and was unlucky not to score another with a scuffed shot that would have made it 3-0.
MF Stephen Ireland, N/R -- Brought on to add some composure to a side enduring a late onslaught from the hosts.
FW Mame Diouf, N/R -- Introduced pace and fresh legs to the team over on the left but didn't have time to make any impact.