Stoke defeat adds to Tim Sherwood's problems at Aston Villa
Marko Arnautovic increased the pressure on Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood as Stoke claimed their first Barclays Premier League away win since February.
The midfielder struck to secure successive wins for Mark Hughes' resurgent side in a deserved 1-0 victory at Villa Park.
The Potters' last away Barclays Premier League win came in Sherwood's first game in charge at Villa in February.
Arnautovic had already seen a goal disallowed in the first half while Charlie Adam's audacious 60-yard lob almost had the visitors in front.
But Arnautovic won it 10 minutes after the break as slapdash defending from the hosts cost them.
They failed to mount a response after going behind and remain winless in the Barclays Premier League since the opening day, and o nly Sunderland and Newcastle's implosions stopped Villa slipping to the bottom of the table.
Jack Grealish was benched in the week that saw him pledge his international future to England, while Mame Diouf replaced the injured Xherdan Shaqiri.
But without Grealish Villa lacked any spark with Stoke, worryingly for Sherwood, comfortable.
An early sweeping move left Villa open at the back and Bojan spotted Diouf's run only for Micah Richards to produce a superb block when the striker pulled the trigger.
Stoke dictated the play but the game lacked real quality until Adam almost repeated his wonder goal against Chelsea after 18 minutes.
The midfielder scored from 60 yards at Stamford Bridge last season and nearly did it again when a frantic Brad Guzan tipped aside his effort from 10 yards inside Stoke's half.
The visitors were on top but struggled to find the crucial breakthrough against a limp Villa side who looked there for the taking a nd 10 minutes before the break the hosts survived a scare.
Bojan was granted time and space to pick out Arnautovic who ghosted in between the defence to redirect the cross past Guzan - only to be ruled marginally offside.
Idrissa Gana fired widely wide with Villa's only serious effort of the first half and there were signs the natives were restless.
Grealish replaced the struggling Joleon Lescott at the break but he failed to be Villa's inspiration and they were behind after 55 minutes.
There was little pressure on Stoke as Adam and Glen Johnson combined before the defender threaded the ball through to Arnautovic who arrived unchecked in the box to fire in his second goal of the season, off the post.
Richards headed wide immediately after as Villa desperately searched for the leveller, while Jack Butland claimed Rudy Gestede's low drive after 66 minutes.
That it was the first time the goalkeeper had been seriously tested all game spoke volumes about Villa.
They again looked bereft of confidence and ideas going forward and blew what small chances came their way and Gana smacked a free-kick into the wall in stoppage time as any hope slipped away.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"@StanCollymore: Too many gambles, too many managers, too little direction, too ignorant to embrace Villans, too few taking responsibility." - Former striker Stan Collymore vents his frutration on the current malaise at Villa Park.
Brad Guzan: 6
Micah Richards: 6
Joleon Lescott: 5
Jose Angel Crespo: 6
Alan Hutton: 6
Idrissa Gana: 5
Jordan Veretout: 6
Ashley Westwood: 5
Jordan Amavi: 6
Scott Sinclair: 6
Rudy Gestede: 5
Jack Grealish: 6
Jordan Ayew: 6
Carles Gil: 6
Jack Butland: 6
Glen Johnson: 7
Philipp Wollscheid: 6
Geoff Cameron: 6
Erik Pieters: 6
Glenn Whelan: 6
Charlie Adam: 7
Marko Arnautovic: 7
Bojan Krkic: 7
Jonathan Walters: 7
Mame Diouf: 6
Ibrahim Afellay: 6
Marco van Ginkel: 6
Marko Arnautovic: The midfielder caused Villa problems with his late runs into the box as he scored the winner and had a goal disallowed in the first half. First his ghosted in to prod in Bojan's cross, only to be denied by the linesman's flag, before grabbing the winner with another fine late run.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH:
Charlie Adam's ridiculous 60-yard lob lit up an otherwise drab game. The midfielder almost repeated his goal at Chelsea last season with a brilliant effort from inside his own half, forcing Brad Guzan to tip it wide as the ball looked to be creeping into the top corner.
MOAN OF THE MATCH:
It was the first time Tim Sherwood took some serious abuse from the Aston Villa fans as he trudged towards the tunnel at full time. He came in on a wave of expectation and better had been expected this season after he rebuilt the squad in the summer.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT:
Mark Hughes will be delighted with back to back league wins - three counting the League Cup - as Stoke's revival continued. It was also their first away win in the Barclays Premier League since February, when they beat Villa 2-1 in Birmingham. Tim Sherwood's worries continued as Villa struggled to create and are now in a relegation battle.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Chelsea v Aston Villa (Barclays Premier League, Saturday October 17)
Swansea v Stoke (Barclays Premier League, Monday October 19)