?Gary Cahill has seemingly tried to reignite the debate over Stoke City’s style of play after claiming that the Potters wanted to turn their recent encounter with Chelsea “into a fight.”
The Blues defender suggested that Stoke were reverting back to the playing style that they had become renowned for, under former boss Tony Pulis, after a physically tough match that eventually saw Antonio Conte’s men successfully navigate thanks to a 2-1 win.
In quotes published by the ?Stoke Sentinel, Cahill revealed that he expected Mark Hughes’ side to attempt to rough up the Premier League leaders, at the Bet365 Stadium, after witnessing them do likewise to another Champions League hopeful in the form of Manchester City in the weeks before his side’s clash with Stoke.
He said: “We expected that sort of game at Stoke. I saw the Manchester City game when they played them and how well organised they were.
“They frustrated City in that game. They were tough for us at home when we beat them 4-2. It was important we didn’t get sucked into that.
“At times in the first half there were a few tackles going in and there was an element of them wanting to make it into a fight.
“Against Stoke, there was a lot of stop and start in the first half, fouls and heated situations which could have boiled over. We could have got into a scrap with them, but they would have been the ones to benefit.
“It’s just about managing the situations and still playing our football. The manager stresses all the time that we still need to do the things we need to do.”
Stoke have sought to move away from the rough-and-tumble approach that they became known for under Pulis during their early seasons in England’s top flight, with Hughes adopting a more passing-based philosophy since taking charge.
The Welshman, naturally, argued against his side’s overly physical nature against Conte’s men in the immediate aftermath of the game on March 18, and even went on to state that it was the likes of Diego Costa who was to blame for the bruising contest the match turned into.
He had said: “Diego Costa draws fouls and tries to make most of contact – when they are not fouls.
“He is adept at the dark arts and everyone in football recognises that. He has many elements and factors, you have to put up with them.”
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