Stoke City 1-0 Swansea City Player Ratings: Pieters battles

Bruno Martins Indi beats Wayne Routledge to the ball – bbc.co.uk

Joe Allen struck against his former club to give underachieving Stoke City a 1-0 win over fast-starters Swansea City. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Stoke City

Jack Butland – the goalkeeper has had a mixed start to his Championship season and needs to improve on many things if he is to get into Gareth Southgate’s plans; for a start, his distribution, which was at times wayward. Butland can though at least take confidence from the clean sheet, which was confirmed when he saved McBurnie’s spectacular late effort. 6

Cuco Martina – the right-footed player was sometimes used by Everton last season as a left-back, but even in a more natural right-back position and in a lower division, he didn’t look especially comfortable. Lacked the bravery to play positively when closed down and sometimes got overrun, too, although he improved late on. 5
Ryan Shawcross – after one or two iffy moments last time out, the veteran made some good interceptions here. He was given a lot of space by Swansea because his distribution isn’t quite as good as that of more modern centre-backs, although he did play a decent ball in behind for Afobe that provided one of Stoke’s best openings. 7
Bruno Martins Indi – the centre-back found himself closed down more than Shawcross in the first half and perhaps lacked the confidence in possession one might expect from somebody who has previously thrived in a Louis Van Gaal side, although he improved in the second period. 7
Erik Pieters – the left-back has scored a couple of belters so far this season and was one of Stoke’s better players in the first half with his powerful forward runs. Put in one or two bad challenges but in some ways that was an occupational hazard: Stoke needed a highly-charged display from Pieters and they got it. 8

Oghenekaro Etebo – didn’t quite inject the level boundless energy into Stoke’s midfield that might have been expected; sometimes his first touch needed a bit of polishing, too. By the Nigerian World Cup star’s undoubtedly high standards, this was a well below-par display. 4
Ryan Woods – many Potters fans are pleased to have the deep-lying playmaker, although took some time to feel his way into the game due to Swansea’s high tempo start. As the visitors tired though, Woods saw more of the ball; he retained it effectively and with precision, as he did so well at Brentford and could be a crucial addition. 7
Joe Allen – the Welshman has thus far not dominated Championship midfields in quite the same way one might expect from a player of his pedigree, but he enjoyed a good game against his former employers. Put some good challenges in, moved the ball smoothly when possible and took his goal sharply, even if there was an element of fortune about it. 8

Tom Ince – despite one or two of eye-catching moments, Ince couldn’t become a prominent influence on the game. Joined Afobe when pressing but looked a tad sloppy when asked to track back and spurned two very good chances. Ince can be a very talented yet erratic player at this level and this might go down as one of his less impressive performances. 5
Benik Afobe – when fit, confident and well-supported, Afobe can be a real threat at Championship level. We didn’t quite see the best of him here until after the first 30 minutes; might have done better with a one-on-one opportunity but set up two presentable chances for Ince and, when Berahino came on, he undertook a deeper role with minimal fuss in a hardworking display. 6
Mame Biram Diouf – the wide forward combined well with Pieters going forward on one or two occasions, but was also guilty of switching off defensively. For a player that often sells himself on being quick, Diouf actually looked clumsy on this occasion and it might not be the greatest coincidence that Stoke improved after he was taken off. 4

Saido Berahino (on 75) – the forward might still be looking for his first league goal since February 2016, but he pressed with admirable selflessness here and, by disrupting Swansea’s play out from the back, he helped Stoke control proceedings in the latter stages. 7

Swansea City

Erwin Mulder – the goalkeeper has enjoyed a positive start to his Championship campaign, having kept an impressive clean sheet at Birmingham last time out. Here, he was commanding and decisive, thriving in a one-on-one scenario with Afobe in the first half and could not have done too much about Allen’s goal. 7

Connor Roberts – the young right-back has earned international recognition and was easy to see why in the opening period, when he made a number of exciting runs. One or two suspect defensive moments aside, this was another vibrant performance from Roberts. 7
Cameron Carter-Vickers – the Tottenham loanee gained some second-tier experience at Sheffield United last season and he appears to be growing in confidence at this level. Very composed in possession and that was normally a good thing, even if he was once nearly caught out by Afobe. 8
Mike van der Hoorn – similarly to Carter-Vickers, the centre-back is good on the ball and that can be a big advantage in Graham Potter’s system. Didn’t panic when put under pressure, at least not until the final 20 minutes when he began to look for the more direct passes to McBurnie. 7
Martin Olsson – one of the few experienced heads in an otherwise youthful Swans side, there is a lot of responsibility on Olsson this season and he stood up on Tuesday night. Closed down swiftly in his own half before retreating at the right moments; plus, he made some selfless runs down the left channel which helped create space for Byers and James. 7

Nathan Dyer – the long-serving Dyer used to be a winger but, having lost a yard of pace in recent years, he appears to want to drift inside to link-up closely with teammates and even adopted a central role midway through the first half. Some clever movement saw him get into good positions yet his end product lacked conviction, notably that one shot straight at Butland at the end of the first half. 5
Kyle Naughton – the right-back came in for some criticism last season and will find it very difficult to displace Roberts, thus filled the central midfield void. Naughton showed good defensive awareness and made one or two intelligent runs, even if the quality of his passing was a tad limited, as we saw in the Premier League. 5
Matt Grimes – the creative midfielder was well-regarded at Northampton last season and appears to be embracing a deeper role this time; his experience playing further forward in lower leagues makes him more comfortable moving into advanced space when it opens up. Equally though, he is still developing both technically and physically and that was also evident at times. 5
George Byers – with injuries to others, the young Scot was given a great opportunity to thrive in front of the nation and he showed excellent movement in from the left channel and between the lines. Faded after a bright first 30 minutes and was replaced by McBurnie in the second half, but still gave a good account of himself on his first EFL start. 6

Daniel James – the academy graduate, a direct right winger by trade, was handed a second EFL start of his career as an auxiliary forward, perhaps with the theory being that joy could be had on the counter-attack. He won one or two fouls and normally drifted out to the left channel in possession, dovetailing well at times with Byers; tired in the second period prior to being taken off but can take heart from his display. 6
Wayne Routledge – it was an incredibly brave move from Graham Potter to drop the in-form Oliver McBurnie in favour of two false nines; the ball didn’t always stick to Routledge in the attacking phase. but he did have a presentable back-post opening, with his header deflected over. 5

Oliver McBurnie (on 64) – the Scot is establishing himself as one of the most complete strikers in the Championship because, as well as his goalscoring ability, which he proved with a fine strike that forced arguably Butland’s best save, he is happy to drop deep and link play to keep opponents guessing. 7
Joel Asoro (on 72) – it doesn’t seem the greatest sign for the Swede that James and Routledge were favoured up top; when Asoro did come on, he spent a lot of the time tracking the wide areas rather than making his presence felt in the final third. 5
Yan Dhanda (on 64) – the youngster, who has shown flashes of quality since joining from Liverpool, enjoyed an initial 10-minute spell when he picked up the ball in good areas and had one shot blocked, before ultimately fading from the contest. 6