Post Match View – Stoke City F.C.

The match was billed as the 100th at the Emirates, the 250th for Cesc, and the 500th for Arsene Wenger as manager of Arsenal Football Club. It was played against a team that the match announcers often described as dangerously close to equalizing the whole time that they were down a goal. That speaks to our recently unimpressive record for putting matches away when given the chance to because Stoke did not really threaten our lead. It also gives lips service to the aggressive nature of the tactics that inferior teams tend to apply when facing us.

You heard words like “smashed into touch” when a Stoke defender dealt with an Arsenal attack. You heard “no nonsense defending” when a Stoke player got away with a foul. You heard them say “good old-fashioned shoulder charge” when the gentle Robert Huth won the ball.

Stoke City are not Barcelona. They are a tough side nonetheless and our victory against them was “needed” as Arsene put it. Let’s be clear, the three points were an absolute must. And then seeing Chelsea go down to Manchester City was the mark of a good day.

I spoke to one of my colleagues at eighteen86 for over two hours after the Chelsea defeat last weekend. We discussed the need for Arshavin to take over. His contribution today was clearly a level above what we’d seen in previous matches.

His movement, his touch, his runs are special class. Today, they helped make a difference. In the 37th minute, you could see him direct traffic as he stood on the ball, pointing young and improving Traore in the right direction. That’s what I want to see.

His move past Diao into the Stoke penalty area, and then forcing Delap to take him down was more of what I want to see. I also liked the amount of pressure we put on Stoke to win back the ball when we lost it. The boys were focused today. We were all over Stoke for much of the game.

Of note:

Tuncay needs to brush up on the offsides rule. He did beat it once, with Gallas doing well to recover, but he did his team no favors today. I lost count how many times the flag went up.

By the 70th minute, we’d won our 8th corner. I’d like to see a better return from that many corners. Vermaelen went close but we have to do better with that much domination.

Aaron Ramsey took his goal very well with the outside of his right foot. He beat a very good Sorensen intelligently and skillfully.

Pulis substituting Delap on 81 was his way of throwing in the towel. Sad, really, that your main threat is a guy who THROWS the ball far. Equally sad however is how our clown goalkeeper dealt with some of those throws.

It seems that Eboue, Gallas, Rosicky, and Traore are injury concerns. Rosicky being the worst hit. Surprise! According to the manager, he will be out for weeks. I feel bad for poor Tomas. He can’t seem to turn the corner injury-wise. The others should be ready for Liverpool.

This is an interesting season.

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