Mark Hughes Challenge Over Stoke City

It's an intriguing combination, not least for its twisted clothing that are hereditary. Arnautovic is Austrian with a Serbian dad (some reports say via Bosnia). Krkic is Spanish but his dad proved to be a Serbian emigre in Catalonia. At the end of which, Stoke's strike is merely a Montenegrin as well as a Macedonian away from a whole southern Yugoslavia diaspora, a Yugo?Stokes of the Potteries whole with Kosovan nationalism, Albanian protections, intermingled sets, and bonded by the evident joy the present threesome takes in each other's on-field business. This really is possibly one for the transport strategy that is longer. For the time being, they're just the most popular strike of the Premier League. Stoke was the underside of the table in September. In October, the BMX front line (yes, sorry) started to gel. Since when they have scored 12 of Stoke's last 13 Premier League goals and out- out-thought and passed Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Bearing this in your mind, there's something poetic about Mark Hughes's efforts to rebuild a functioning variant of the former Yugoslavia and rather suiting across the evolving forward line of Stoke City. Except, it turns out, it was really a cross that is scuffed. Shaqiri said he meant it. Subsequently, he afterwards confessed to Charlie Adam that, yes, it turned out to be a cross that was scuffed. And in its own manner, it was for all that the perfect Shaqiri goal: thrilling, moreish, confounding, illusory. With Shaqiri, you are either a believer or you are not. For me, it occurred at Brazil 2014 in Sao Paulo, when by some space Shaqiri was the very best player on the pitch for an hour as Switzerland lost 1-0 to Argentina.

And here he's at Stoke, folks that are confounding. But football has never actually understood what to do with Shaqiri. Stoke are his fourth team in three years. Under Roberto Mancini at Internazionale and Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, he began 21 league matches over two harm?added seasons. It's appealing to see him a cosmetic treat, as an adornment, one-man highlights reel of rubbery, malevolence that is creative. There's certainly a deep chemistry here, a function not of ethnicity that is displaced, more of some clear footballing characteristics that are shared. All three have wandered a little and found a house again in the affluent middle classes of the Premier League.

It's, obviously, a daft question. Obviously, he meant it! Shaqiri does not scuff. He shines and guilds, he prompts and nudges. It has to be said there's a type of humor in his design, this muscle?jump red square of a footballer, Mr Effective made flesh, creating from those bulging calves and thighs a range of superbly soft touches, precision passes, feet that flicker and dancing. And at the age of 24, his main achievement is his standing as the greatest Nutmegger in world soccer, a Nutmegger of innovation and real variety, whose nutmeg stats, were they ever to be correctly compiled, would be off the charts.

Or maybe not this time. The best element of the current inside out season really has been a levelling of sway. Shaqiri can make the Champions League positions this week. And actually, why not? This is a spectacular bit of direction by Hughes to see in these three a whole, working front line. None is a central striker or a prolific scorer. All three work break with the rate or keep the ball, and find space in places that are tricky. Collectively they cost GBP16m. Some say Hughes deserves a shot in the United occupation. If so, it might be wise to hit this one right up the very top of the CV.

The actual tease with Shaqiri is that he is able to certainly do so much more. In times that are thin, his greatest tends to come against the greatest. The expectation is he is going to be given an opportunity to discover a more permanent residence, a more continual rhythm in England, or, at least. There's been a recognizable pattern to such things lately. Achievement outside the Premier League elite can go on for just so long. Cash will intercede. The assaulting threesome of Stoke are not yet so irresistible they enticed away and must be hived off but Shaqiri, in particular, is likely to be offered another chance at a Champions League team if he keeps it up.

On the flip side, he could just stay and wring the most out of this team that is evolving. The Stoke winger Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored against Everton, has been quoted indicating a challenge for a Champions League position isn't out of the inquiry. When that was set to Hughes before Saturday's excursion to West Bromwich Albion, he said: "Who understands in this season? Whether this is an indication of a shifting of the sequence as well as things to come, I am not overly certain. Crystal Palace, West Ham, teams like that - we're there on merit, and we're in the very best half. Mark Hughes, the Stoke City manager, isn't blowing off talk of a push for the top four and acknowledges his side are now ahead of goal this term. Nevertheless, you should not actually question Shaq because he's the skill to do something like that."

Hughes has more played down the prospect of Stoke being active in the January transfer window. "I do not believe there's any urgency on our part to add actually," he said. "We've had conversations about specific players that we enjoy the appearance of and are asking about their conditions and availability, but I believe everyone does that leading into a window. "If the ideal player is available we'll consider it, but if we have to wait, we will." "Up to this stage we've been really encouraged by that which we've generated and we only need to keep it going. We understand we can defeat anyone in this league although there are plenty of teams who'll say the exact same.

Hughes, who has led Stoke to back to back ninth-placed finishes in his two seasons up to now, included: "we'd goals before the season, and we are above where we believed we'd be at this period. That's supporting, as well as the 2nd half of seasons have been powerful for us, so we're expecting to 2016." It has been hailed by some observers as a goal-of-the-season competition, although others have questioned whether the attempt was a fluke. I'd have kept quiet myself!