It was just the result Mark Hughes and Stoke City needed. A comfortable 2-0 win over Watford at the Bet365 Stadium set the tone for 2017.
After a rather lacklustre spell over Christmas, Stoke City returned to winning ways on Tuesday night.
Following successive trips to Anfield and Stamford Bridge, a return to familiar surroundings was just what the Potters’ doctor ordered.
Calm and collected Stoke City
At the end of the defeat at Chelsea, Hughes made it clear that he wanted his team to cut out vital errors that were costing points.
The request hadn’t fallen on deaf ears, either. Momentary lapses of concentration appeared to have gone from a rejuvenated Stoke City side.
Stoke went into Tuesday’s game having not won since December 3. A visit from one of the league’s leakiest defences couldn’t have come at a better time.
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Marko Arnautovic returned for the Potters after his three-match ban and was joined in the starting line-up by Jon Walters, as the pair replaced Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay in attack.
It was a quiet first half by all accounts. The play was balanced at both ends as each team failed to muster any clear chances.
Stoke City though finally brought the game into life on half-time. A corner from the impressive Charlie Adam found its way to skipper Ryan Shawcross, who hooked the ball into the net.
Peter Crouch in inspired form
The late first-half goal as both sides came out invigorated in the second period.
Stoke City keeper Lee Grant was brought into real action for the first time shortly after the restart as Watford substitute Odion Ighalo dug out a strike that needed attending to.
As chances started to open up, Stoke doubled their lead.
Adam again turned provider, as his cross wasn’t dealt with once more by the Watford defence. Peter Crouch was on hand to tap in his 48th Stoke City goal after the ball wasn’t cleared.
Crouch, who has scored in back-to-back games, is now only two Premier League goals from hitting 100.
It could have been three for the Potters as Crouch failed to properly connect with another cross, after Afellay’s volley went just wide of the visitors’ post.
Watford rarely looked like causing Stoke’s back line any issues. Glen Johnson’s clearance off the line from Jerome Sinclair’s header was the closest they came.
Manager Hughes was satisfied after his team’s performance:
"“We have played better and been beaten in recent weeks. We got goals at good times and then saw the game out quite comfortably”."