Welcome to the Premier League, AVB.
Is this seat taken?
First: That shot from Mikel. Brilliant. I told you, the man is going to score this season.
Now - as Jack said, a draw away at Stoke isn't exactly a bad result. Especially as we seemed to start a bit slow and Kenwyne Jones was winning headers all over the place against our defenders as Stoke lumped the ball forward. But we held out with Cech fantastic in goal, and we finally started to get a rhythm going as the second half started.
Our defense looked solid. Alex was a beast and I wish that he had gotten a chance at one of the freekicks. I also want to single out Bosingwa for a job well done - it's nice to see someone actually taking on defenders and getting past them. He also did a good job defending, not just as an addition to the attack. We may yet get the pre-injury Bos of a few years ago back.
I still don't understand why people still think we need to get rid of Mikel. I am firmly in the other camp. I think he's great. Ramires as well. He nearly had a fantastic assist, if only someone had been bothering to run into the box and get on the end of that great cross after his superb run. Lampard may not have been at his best, but he worked hard to win the ball back and I hope he starts to make those storming runs into the box again.
We had about three penalty appeals - two of them involving Torres, who was being manhandled constantly at the apparently approval of Mark Halsey, the ref. The third was when Frank Lampard was clearly tripped in the box. But no dice and no luck, as usual (but doesn't every team say that?). Anelka had the best opportunity to score, which our old nemesis, the crossbar, kept out. Why wasn't he starting over Kalou? Oh, Kalou.
Torres was possibly the liveliest I've seen him since he arrived at the club, and he was named the Barclays Man of the Match. He made some great runs and cut past defenders in the box. If only we can get that finished product now. My only problem was that he seemed so keen to impress that he wouldn't always pass when he should have.
My biggest complaint today, despite the positives, was that we fail to take advantage of any opportunity we might have to break forward when Stoke was out of position - usually on a set piece of theirs. We would run forward, stop, then pass backward instead of storming ahead. Entirely too much backpassing going on for my liking. Spread out, pass forward!
Post-match interview with Torres and JT:
All in all, not a bad outing at a place where it is notoriously difficult to pick up full points. The defense kept a clean sheet. We need to score, though. We need players to get in the box. We need to be quicker moving forward.