Xherdan Shaqiri is pivotal to Stoke’s Premier League survival hopes, according to boss Paul Lambert.
The Switzerland playmaker caught the eye on Saturday as Stoke defeated Huddersfield 2-0 at the bet365 Stadium to climb out of the relegation zone in Lambert’s first game as manager.
Shaqiri brought two good saves from Jonas Lossl either side of half-time before setting up Mame Diouf for the second goal with a lovely back-heel pass.
Lambert was reluctant to single out any players after what he called an outstanding team performance, but, when Shaqiri was mentioned, he said: “He is a different type of player, but what a player.
“He was fantastic and he is going to be a big player for us going forward, there’s no doubt about that.
“His touch for the second goal was outstanding and he was unfortunate not to get a goal himself. He had a great chance and he’s the one player you’d want that chance to fall to, but almost immediately afterwards we got the first goal through Joe Allen.”
Lambert had only had this week to work with his players but he had visibly lifted them and on Saturday Stoke did not look like a team who had been beaten on eight of their last 11 Premier League outings.
The former Wolves and Aston Villa boss said: “There’s a lot of quality in the squad and we shouldn’t be in the position we are in, that’s the bottom line.
“Mark Hughes did a fabulous job here for four years, and Tony Pulis before him. I think the players know themselves that they have been under-performing, for whatever reason, but I must say that (on Saturday) they were excellent.”
For Huddersfield, it was a sixth Premier League match without a win – a run which has seen them slip to within three points of the relegation zone.
Town boss David Wagner is not panicking, though.
“I am not worried because nothing has changed,” the German said. “I think over the whole season we have been in this region of the table – four, five, six points above the relegation places.
“We are totally aware of what we want to do this season and from the first day it has always been about staying up. We are fighting for this and working for this but we must do it better than
we have (on Saturday), and we have been better than (Saturday) already this season.
“Fighting spirit, attitude or work-rate was not the issue. The players tried, but we just made mistakes and mistakes can be worked on.”