Pulis positive despite poor run

The Potters have collected just a single point in December so far

and never looked like adding to that tally once Martin Petrov had

put Manchester City ahead and en route to a 2-0 win at Eastlands

yesterday. It left them with just Monday’s game against in-form

Birmingham to try to end the year on a high note and edge away from

an increasingly congested scrap to avoid the relegation spots. Yet

Pulis is not getting too concerned. While a failure to beat Wigan

on home soil was a disappointment, defeats at Arsenal, Aston Villa

and City were only what was expected given the respective imbalance

in financial resources, and the fact each of those clubs is having

a generally decent campaign. “We have had a tough run of games,”

Pulis said. “Arsenal, Aston Villa and Manchester City all away from

home, with just one match at home in the middle is very difficult.

“But, as a Premier League club you just have to accept there will

be a run of games where it is going to be difficult to pick points

up. “Now we have a run of home matches, which are going to be

crucial.” Indeed, Pulis can find plenty of positives. As always,

Stoke have competed furiously and, with a bit of good fortune, or a

bit more composure, might easily have gained more of a reward than

a pat on the back and a message of bad luck. It was the same on

Saturday. City were hardly dominant, even with new manager Roberto

Mancini to impress. But the clear-cut opportunity Tuncay had to

break the deadlock before Petrov struck was turned away by Shay

Given’s excellent feet-first save. A second fine stop denied James

Beattie when Stoke were building up a head of steam after the

interval, by which time Carlos Tevez had doubled City’s advantage,

leaving Pulis to ponder what might have been. “We have actually

done quite well in all of those games,” he said. “We could have got

something out of them if we had been a bit more clinical. “Games

are won and lost in both boxes and we certainly have got to improve

in those areas. “It is a problem because we need to score goals but

at least we are creating chances.” With Glenn Whelan and Salif Diao

both suspended after picking up their fifth bookings of the

campaign, Pulis will be forced to make chances for the clash with

Alex McLeish’s men. He might have taken that course of action

anyway given the swift turnaround, although at least he knows Stoke

will not be the only ones struggling to get through another game

after Birmingham’s fine effort against Chelsea. “We need some fresh

legs,” said Pulis. “Two tough matches in 48 hours is a big ask for