Aug 19, 2017 at 5.30pm UK at ​bet365 Stadium
Attendance: 29,459
StokeStoke City
1-0
Arsenal
Rodriguez (47')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Mark Hughes hails Stoke City's "huge" victory over Arsenal

Hughes hails
© SilverHub
Mark Hughes insists that some of the criticism aimed in his and Stoke City's direction has been "unfair", having seen his side respond in style by beating Arsenal.

Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has admitted that he is delighted to have seen his side prove their doubters wrong by earning a "big result" against Arsenal.

The Welshman has been tipped by many bookies to become the first manager to be sacked this season following a largely underwhelming summer transfer window to date.

One of Hughes's new arrivals made the difference in Saturday's meeting with Arsenal at the bet365 Stadium, though, as Paris Saint-Germain loanee Jese Rodriguez marked his debut with a well-taken strike in the 1-0 home win.

Speaking to BBC Sport after the match, Hughes was quick to heap further praise on Jese, whom he has previously described as an 'elite-level performer'.

"Everyone knew what an acquisition Jese is. He's a game-changer. You have to say he put a shift in too," he said. "When you think about it, he only had two or three training sessions. If that's what's to come then we'll be delighted. The lads around him helped him through it. It's a great learning curve for him.

"This was a big result for us. A huge amount of work was put in by the guys and you have to do that against a quality side like Arsenal. They're intelligent, quick, strong. You have to dig in at times and that's what we did. We struggled to play the amount of football as we wanted to. That's a credit to Arsenal.

"I think [the players] were ready for it today. We have been criticised a bit, some of it unfair. We'll take valid criticism but when we get things going do things correctly then we'll always be a feature in this league. The crowd wanted to make a statement along with the team. They were fed up of criticism and they wanted it."

Stoke, defeated by Everton in last week's opener, face Rochdale at home in the second round of the EFL Cup on Tuesday night.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the touchline during the match against Liverpool on March 4, 2017
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