Mark Hughes has admitted Stoke City "were never able to get to grips with a good Arsenal" after his side suffered their third defeat of the campaign at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday (12 September). The boss, however, praised Jack Butland as believes that the disappointing final 2-0 could have been even worse had it not been for the outstanding performance of his goalkeeper.
Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal their first home victory of the campaign after taking advantage of the Stoke's fragility in defence. The England international opened the scoring in the first-half after chasing a long ball from Mesut Özil, with the Frenchman sealing the victory after half time with a header.
The manager was left frustrated with his back line, but praised Butland's performance after the keeper has been his best player during the start of the new campaign, after taking the number one left by the summer departure of Asmir Begović to Chelsea.
"We are indebted to Jack once more for denying Arsenal a far more comprehensive victory. He was faultless once more today, and not for the first time this season. He is continuing to show everyone how outstanding he is," Hughes said."It's good that he is performing so well, but hopefully moving forward we give him less opportunities to pick up man of the match awards. We need other guys to hit his performance levels, which I am sure they will."
"It was a frustrating afternoon for us today, and we were never able to get to grips with a good Arsenal side to be perfectly honest. We allowed them far too much space all over the pitch and were too passive in our defensive work in the first half which allowed them a very simple opening goal," Hughes admitted. "We should be dealing with a long ball over the top really, so that was very frustrating for us to concede a goal like that."
The defeat leave Stoke bottom in the Premier League table after having secure just two points from five games. Hughes was frustrated by the result, but is convinced the squad have the talent to overcome the situation in the coming games.
"We have to be far better in terms of our defensive work moving forward. It's important to get closer to players, make them go sideways at times and give them something to think about," the manager added. "We were allowing them time to pick passes out, and that isn't good defending – that is certainly not what my teams are about and it certainly isn't what we advocate."
"We will have a couple of guys back available to us next week, we will work hard on the training pitches and we will get it right, I am sure about that," he said.