Four, four, four - Hughes doesn't like it


Stoke City manager Mark Hughes cited his side's growing injury list as a contributing factor after his side conceded four goals for the third match in succession, losing 4-0 at Manchester City on Saturday.

Heavy defeats to Liverpool and Tottenham preceded this weekend's trip to the Etihad Stadium, and goals from Fernando and Sergio Aguero, who converted from the spot after a Ryan Shawcross foul on Kelechi Iheanacho, saw City firmly in control at the break.

Despite Stoke's best efforts to claw their way back into the match early in the second half, Iheanacho added two goals of his own to complete the scoring. 

"We're disappointed with the performance and the scoreline. Once again we've conceded too readily," Hughes told a news conference.

"We were very much in the game, but we made a mistake at the set-play again. A run from one of the City players has caught us out, a run that we've discussed beforehand to make them hopefully anticipate it would happen in the game.

"But we didn't do our jobs, unfortunately conceded from that corner and that didn't really galvanise us to get going and get back into the game.

"We conceded another poor goal. Obviously from the penalty, but it was poor leading into the awarding of the penalty. At 2-0 just before half-time it's a long way back.

"I demanded a reaction and we came back with more purpose and more belief in what they were trying to do. 

"I thought we had a number of decent chances during that period, which was arguably our best period in the game. We didn't take them and unfortunately then conceded another poor goal going the other way.

"At that point it's very difficult to see us getting back into the game." 

Stoke had been dealt a blow in the build-up with the news that Ibrahim Afellay would miss nine months with a knee ligament injury, while goalkeeper Shay Given was replaced at half-time with a groin problem.

"We're struggling somewhat with the injuries that we're having and players are playing with a little bit of restriction in their play in terms of their physicality and their ability to get around the pitch at times," Hughes added.

"It's a little bit hard on us at the moment, but it's been three poor games, poor results, too many goals conceded. But, up to this point, we've had a decent enough seasons, so it would be wrong to define our season by what we're producing at the moment.

"We've got three games to kill - it's up to us to make sure that we finish in the right manner."