Blues 0 Stoke City 0 .. Ron's Report

Last updated : 24 August 2009 By Richard Barker

The latter was true here, as Blues and Stoke played out a game that if FIFA wanted to use a game to illustrate exactly when a point is a fair result, they could simply show this match. Not that anyone would probably want to sit through it all.

Once again, Blues were ok. They were neat and tidy and played the better football from an aesthetics point of view. Stoke though are big, ugly and horrible to play against, and I don't mean that as a criticism - they're good at it, and fair play to them. They were the cleverer team and just showed a little more experience and nous than Blues who were, at times, a little naive.

Stoke's main threat came from Rory Delap's throw-ins which, initially, Blues couldn't deal with. The first three were really problematic, but Blues gradually started to get used to them. Blues, on the other hand, threatened to be threatening, but for all the nice football (Word still underlines such sentences in the way it does when it points out that it doesn't make sense - it's not used to me saying that about Blues), they didn't create a great deal, but for a Garry O'Connor header in the second half.

I've said it twice this season already, and unfortunately I'll say it again now - I have real concerns about how many goals Blues will get this season. They probably created more chances at Old Trafford than in the next two home games put together.

I guess the opposition is a factor and Stoke and Portsmouth would both have viewed a point at St Andrews as a decent result, and so they were probably set up to be tighter than someone coming for the win would be. I still have concerns though. Blues struggled for goals last season, and it's looking like Christian Benitez is going to need to be Lionel Messi-esque.

Let's not be over-critical though. I think it's an ok start from the first three games (you may have wanted six points, but four is ok) and the football has surprised and pleased everyone I think. Blues have been applauded off by their fans in three consecutive games, and the last time that happened, Port Vale were the biggest club in Stoke.

Central to the football is Barry Ferguson, who it has to be said has been fantastic thus far. His ability to keep the play ticking over, pick passes and switch the play has been utilised well, and Blues look good for it.

Another point in Blues' favour has to be the Goals Against column - this was a second consecutive clean sheet and it was only a lucky bounce of the ball that did for them at Old Trafford. Roger Johnson has taken to the Premier League like a Libyan to freedom, and Franck Queudrue really does need a lot of praise. Given where he was 12-18 months ago, it's unbelievable that he's not performing so well in the Premier League. Last season's Player of the Year awards were more out of his cult status and a reflection on everyone else being crap, but he's genuinely performing superbly now.

Add to that the former retiree Stephen Carr, QPR reject Gregory Vignal and Joe Hart, and everyone at the back has done well - indeed, it'd be unfair to leave Stuart Parnaby out of that too, despite him being forced onto the left which he clearly doesn't enjoy.

So, all in all, a decent start, and given some recent ones, a start that has been enjoyed by fans on the whole. There's still a hell of a job to do though, and if the goals don't start coming soon, we're going to need that defence.