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Improved Arnautovic earns Hughes´ praise

Mark Hughes believes winger Marko Arnautovic is turning words into actions after scoring both goals in Stoke City’s 2-1 Premier League win against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Arnautovic took his tally for the season to 10 in Stoke’s comfortable victory at the Britannia Stadium, which saw Leandro Bacuna’s late goal prove a consolation for rock-bottom Villa.

Often regarded as a mercurial talent, the Austrian’s impressive display was later talked up by Hughes, with the Welshman remaining calm over Arnautovic’s contract, which expires next season.

“Marko’s doing really well. Since he’s come here we’ve talked about his power and his pace,” Hughes said.

“The one thing lacking in the last two seasons has been a goal threat and he’s added that to his game this year. 

“If he wants to be the player he wants and tells everyone he wants to be, that was the part of his game he had to improve and that’s what he’s done.

“I think Marko is of the view he’s quite happy to just play his football and let other people have conversations about [his contract].

“I think that’s the right attitude – he wants to concentrate on his football and when it needs to be signed it will be.”

Stoke were only really troubled by Villa after Bacuna’s strike, which came about following an apparent handball from Rudy Gestede in the build-up.

With Stoke’s European hopes on track after a relatively comfortable win, Hughes added: “We took a little time to get going but in the first half I was more than pleased with what we produced.

“We probably just needed a little bit more intensity in the final third, a little bit more dynamism. We came out with good intent in the second half and got two quickfire goals and that took the game away from them.

“They had a little spell at the end when the referee shouldn’t have given the goal they score – a clear handball – and at 2-1 it’s always a lead you’re a bit nervous about.

“They asked questions and put long balls in the box but all in all there were good periods of play [from us] and it’s a good three points.”

Sat 27 Feb, 2016
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