The Potters went to the London Stadium looking for their fourth win on the bounce and to go six games unbeaten. Stoke City started off the Premier League campaign conceding four goals in three of their first five games.
However, the central defensive partnership between club stalwart Ryan Shawcross and new loan-signing from FC Porto, Bruno Martins Indi looks to be blossoming as the pair have now conceded only twice in the last four games. A defence must trust their goalkeeper and what a story Lee Grant has become since signing on deadline day on-loan from Derby County.
Grant, 33, has spent his entire career in the English Football League making over 400 competitive appearances. At the start of the year he was battling for the No.1 shirt at Derby against former England international Scott Carson and veteran Chris Weale. Grant had never made a Premier League appearance before joining Stoke.
In his second Premier League appearance Grant put in a man-of-the-match performance against Manchester United at Old Trafford keeping Stoke in the game on multiple occasions, quickly making himself a fan-favourite with his heroics.
Martins Indi made his debut at the Bet 365 Stadium in a 4-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur, the following game didn’t get any easier as he was moved to left back in a 4-1 loss at Crystal Palace. Stoke conceded four goals again and Martins Indi had a torrid time against England international Andros Townsend.
However, Martins Indi was then moved into a central role to partner Shawcross and they haven’t looked back since. Shawcross looks as though he has finally found a defensive partner after losing Stoke legend Robert ‘the Berlin Wall’ Huth to Leicester City as he was deemed surplus to requirements by manager Mark Hughes.
Martins Indi seems to fit the perfect centre-back role for Mark Hughes, as he mixes the dirty work with the modern ball-playing role of a defender. He is composed enough to play out from the back and start the teams attacks. When talking of a Stoke defence it would be inconceivable to denote the ever presence of Shawcross who has been with the club since gaining promotion in 2008, and signed from Manchester United for around £1,000,000.
Stoke will now be looking to continue their unbeaten streak as they play Bournemouth, Watford and Burnley in their next three games. Hughes will be hoping his defence carry on their recent form in limiting the opposition chances. Stoke fans will be eager to see how the Shawcross - Indi partnership blossoms.