Stoke City vs. Manchester City: Winners and Losers from Premier League

Rob Lancaster@RobLancs79Featured ColumnistDecember 5, 2015

Stoke City vs. Manchester City: Winners and Losers from Premier League

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    Manchester City were swept aside on a blustery day at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke, England.

    Without both Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero, the visitors—who had started the day top of the Premier League table—saw their title charge blown off course by two early goals.

    Marko Arnautovic struck twice for Stoke City in the first 15 minutes, on both occasions finishing off passes from Xherdan Shaqiri.

    The forward broke the deadlock when he steered a low cross beyond Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart, while his second saw him convert a beautiful through ball from his team-mate.

    To make matters worse for Manchester City, midfielder Fernando was forced off with a hamstring injury in the second half when manager Manuel Pellegrini had already made all three substitutions.

    The defeat, coupled with wins for Leicester City and Arsenal on Saturday, leaves Pellegrini's squad in third place in the standings.

    Here, Bleacher Report breaks down the winners and losers from the game. 

Winner: Marko Arnautovic

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    Rui Vieira/Associated Press

    Marko Arnautovic's early double strike was enough to clinch Stoke City a third victory in their last four Premier League outings.

    The Austrian was gifted the chance to open the scoring when team-mate Xherdan Shaqiri's cross picked him out inside the area. His second was assisted by the same player, with a pass in behind the visiting defence leaving Arnautovic with only goalkeeper Joe Hart to beat.

    The forward could well have had a first-half hat-trick, only for the woodwork to keep out another attempt at goal.

    According to BBC 5 live Sport on Twitter, Arnautovic has now scored five of Stoke's 13 Premier League goals this season, while he has also provided two assists.

Loser: Manchester City's Defence

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    Rui Vieira/Associated Press

    Injured Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany must have found the match tough to watch at the Britannia Stadium, and not just because of the cold wind that swirled through the ground.

    Without their talismanic defender, Manchester City's back four looked as flimsy as a sodden beer mat. In truth, they were fortunate to only lose by two goals in the end.

    As Jamie Jackson wrote in his match report for the Guardian: "The fault line in [Manuel] Pellegrini’s team runs through the defence. When Vincent Kompany is absent they struggle. The captain is out with his latest calf injury and yet again his side paid."

    The visitors' troubles at the back were summed up when Nicolas Otamendi became so annoyed by Xherdan Shaqiri's tricks that he blatantly booted the Swiss out of pure frustration.

Winner: Xherdan Shaqiri

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    Xherdan Shaqiri (eventually) arrived at Stoke City with a big reputation. Having played for Bayern Munich and Inter Milan previously, his signing by manager Mark Hughes was a statement of intent.

    The Switzerland international showed just why Stoke fans should be so excited to have him, with an outstanding display against Manchester City.

    He created both of Marko Arnautovic's goals, starting with a run and cross from the right that left his team-mate with an easy finish. The second assist was a wonderful through ball that cut the visiting defence wide-open.

    Per the Premier League's official Twitter account, Shaqiri said after Stoke City's impressive win, "You could see from the first minute that we wanted to win this game."

    It was just another thing the Swiss had got right on what was an excellent day for both himself and his team.

Loser: Fernando

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    Brushed aside too easily in the buildup to Stoke City's first goal, Fernando failed to finish the match at the Britannia Stadium.

    The Manchester City midfielder was fortunate not to be subbed early in the second half, as instead fellow Brazilian Fernandinho was the one to make way for Fabian Delph.

    However, an injury meant the former Porto player left the game early. Even though his departure left his team-mates down to 10 men, they looked better without him on the field.

    Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening News awarded Fernando a three in his match ratings, adding: "Pantomime villain of the day. “He's behind you!” they all shouted, but given the runaround by Shaqiri and Co. How he survived substitution is unknown."

Winner: Mark Hughes

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    Stoke City manager Mark Hughes must have enjoyed getting one over his former employers.

    The Welshman—who was sacked by Manchester City in December 2009—took the risk of leaving Jonathan Walters out of the starting lineup, instead going with a front four of Marko Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan and Ibrahim Afellay.

    The gamble paid off spectacularly, as the quartet—all signed by Stoke after previously playing for big clubs in Europe—overshadowed Manchester City's so-called stars.

Loser: Manuel Pellegrini

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    A dodgy defensive display is one thing, but Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini must have been concerned at the way his team seemed to lack the heart for the fight.

    The strong wind was not an acceptable excuse for their timid display in defeat—Stoke City had no problems playing football despite the difficult conditions.

    Pellegrini told the club's official website after the match, "I’m worried by the first 20 minutes of the game against Stoke and I’m worried going forward about the way we played the ball in the opposition box."

    He is right to be concerned—injuries are not helping his side, but a lack of effort should not be tolerated.