Stoke were given a helping hand in their quest here by a jaded Watford who were a shadow of the side that stunned Arsenal to reach the FA Cup semi-finals.
Star man Jonathan Walters seized on the first dose of poor defending to turn home Phil Bardsley’s 18th minute cross.
And another gaffe from goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes saw Walters feed Joselu who extended Stoke’s lead soon after the break.
It could and should above been more but they were left sweating when Troy Deeney headed home late on.
Watford are all but safe but their slump this year suggests they might have been found out by opposition teams.
Hornets boss Quique Flores said: “We have had problems scoring in the second half of the season.
“We are training the same and we have the same players. But we have found it difficult to score against the smaller teams.”
WATFORD (4-4-2): Gomes 6; Nyom 5, Britos 5, Cathcart 6, Ake 6 (Anya 76); Behrami 5 (Guedioura 55,7) Capoue 6, Suarez 5, Jurado 5 (Amrabat 55, 6), DEENEY 7, Ighalo 6.
Subs not used: Pantilimon, Prodl, Abdi, Watson.
UP NEXT: Arsenal (a), Premier League, Saturday, April 2.
STOKE (4-2-3-1): Butland 6, Bardsley 7, Cameron 6, Woolscheid 7, Muniesa 7; Imbula 7, Whelan 6; WALTERS 8, Afellay 6 (Diouf 84), Joselu 7, Arnautovic 7 (Ireland 84).
Subs: Haugaard, Adam, Teixeira, Crouch, Bojan.
UP NEXT: Swansea (h), Premier League, Saturday, April 2.
Referee: Craig Pawson 6
Star Player: Jon Walters – Goal and an assist
Star shocker: Miguel Britos – Error-strewn display