- Associated Press - Monday, January 1, 2018

STOKE, England (AP) - The pressure on Stoke manager Mark Hughes increased as his team lost 1-0 at home to Newcastle on Monday, two days after he rested his frontline players in a heavy defeat at Chelsea.

Ayoze Perez struck in the 73rd minute to earn Newcastle a victory that takes it above Stoke and into 13th place in the Premier League standings.

Stoke has won only two games in its last 12 and dropped to 16th place, two points clear of the drop zone.

There were boos from Stoke fans at the final whistle, while a “Hughes Out” banner was on display inside the stadium.

“Who else is going to do it?” Hughes said, when asked about his future after 4 1/2 years at Stoke. “In terms of the knowledge of the group and the progress in my time here, I’m the best person to do it.”

Hughes‘ decision to play a weakened team in the 5-0 loss at Chelsea, in a bid to keep his key players fresh for Newcastle, did not pay off. Peter Crouch, Xherdan Shaqiri and Joe Allen were among six changes to the Stoke starting lineup and they failed to shine.

“Everyone’s saying that I gambled but I used the players that I had,” Hughes said. “What was I going to do? Risk players that had a big part to play today? Plenty of teams have made changes today, everyone else is doing it too.”

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