For the second consecutive Barclay’s Premier League match Arsenal secured all three points thanks to a quick brace by super-sub and gunners talisman Robin van Persie. While it took the Dutchman to kill off the tie, it was a deserved victory by Arsenal who never looked like losing after dominating virtually all of the proceedings. Once again allArsenal.com predicted right in our special bet with Arsenal drawing at full time and winning at full time.
The win continues Arsenal current run of three wins on the trot and will hopefully instil further confidence in the players, who I must say looked defensively solid for the entirety of the match. After a shaky run, it is definitely good to say that the gunners produced a comprehensive performance with Arsenal improving in almost every aspect in comparison to previous weeks.
Another good aspect to point out from today’s match was the performance of Gervinho who finally showed the Arsenal faithful what he was capable of after his big money move from current Ligue 1 champions Lille. The Ivorian had a top-class performance tormenting the stoke defence, rifling home the opportunity carved out for him by Ramsey and of course setting up super-sub Robin van Persie both times for his brace.
While a comprehensive performance if I were to nitpick from the negatives of the performance it would have to be conceding yet another goal from a set-piece along with the performance of Theo Walcott who is having a very tough time with his form. Firstly the Stoke goal, which was little damper on Gervinho’s performance due his lack of urgency on the free-kick which allowed Shawcross in behind him. Lastly was the performance of Walcott, who seems to be doing little to retain his place in the starting eleven. There will certainly be pressure on him to perform with Arshavin looking threatening after coming off the bench and also Chamberlain waiting for his chance after good performances for the English under-21 side.
Overall though, the performance definitely sets us in the right direction for a tough clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next week. For now though we look forward to the upcoming mid-week game against Bolton in the fourth round of the Carling Cup where it is expected a second string side will be played to keep our hopes of silverware this season strong.
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on his win over Stoke…
We had a solid team performance where you could see that the team improves defensively, especially against a team that is challenging like Stoke. We looked much more solid defensively and we had a good start to the game until they equalised. Then I felt we became a bit nervous and we needed half time to calm down and then come back.
The second half basically was all us, especially after the first 15 minutes, and then the problem was to score goals. Van Persie can do that better than many people and he did it when he came on. Overall it was a good, spirited performance and the crowd feels that this team wants to do well because they stood behind the team again and that is very positive. They feel that the team is ready to put effort in.
Of course Robin with the two goals deserves a massive credit but I feel Gervinho as well had a very lively game, a very influential game.
on the reason for first-half nerves…
Frustration. Also the players were a bit angry because they knew for us the second ball was vital. We could not win every ball against Crouch so the second ball was important. The players felt at half time that we had been caught on the second ball. But I have to give credit to Stoke, they surprised us with the free kick, and after that we were a bit in no-man’s land on all the second balls. They took advantage of it and after that the frustration took over and our passing became less fluent until half time.
on the free kick that led to Crouch’s goal…
I think that it was not a free kick at all, I just felt it was a wonderful header. I couldn’t understand what the referee saw. It is a concern [that we did not pick up Shawcross] but the players knew straight away at half time that they had been caught. But we had a great response in the second half and in the final part of the game it was all us.
on why he rested Van Persie…
He had muscular tightness and I took 19 players [in training] yesterday because I was not sure whether to involve him on the teamsheet. He made a check this morning and he was medically alright to be on the bench. Before you leave him out you always think 15 times ‘should I really do it or not?’ but if you look at the number of games he plays and the history he has, you are a bit cautious.
Djourou Mertesacker Koscielny Santos
Walcott Chamakh Gervinho
Wojciech Szczesny | 6.0: The Pole has little to do throughout the match, but did what was required when it was required. Although his unexplainable dash outside the 18-yard box on 66 minutes was a damper on his performance, after Djourou could have easily headed it back.
Johan Djourou | 6.0: The Swiss defender looked pretty solid on defence and made a number of good surging runs in-field, but naturally at times looked uncomfortable on attack in comparison to regular defender Sagna.
PerMertesacker | 6.5: The German seems to be forming a good partnership with Koscielny in defence and made a number of great blocks. Contained Stokes main man Crouch for a majority of the match but perhaps shouldn’t have left Crouch un-guarded in front of goal when he was initially marking him for the set-piece.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.5: The Frenchman is starting to add consistency to his performances and looked very solid at the back, making numerous interceptions and blocks. Brilliant block to deny Jones in a one-on-one situation at the back late in the match.
Andre Santos | 6.5: Was absent during Stoke’s set-piece which set up the goal, but other than this was defensively solid and as always was willing to contribute on attack at every opportunity.
Alex Song | 6.5: The Cameroon midfielder is beginning to have more influence on attack, but was definitely more effective on defence tonight. Did his job well as a defensive midfielder, but was guilty of a few uncharacteristic mistakes.
Mikel Arteta | 7.0: The Spaniard seems to be improving and always made himself available on attack. Distribution was tidy as always and also proved to be useful on defence as well.
Aaron Ramsey | 7.0: Provided a brilliant chip for Gervinho’s goal and also provided a raking ball for the Ivorian early the match which he failed to control. Had a strong strike a goal, only just missing wide. Faded in the second half, but like Arteta it was an improved performance.
Theo Walcott | 5.0: It is sad to say it is yet another disappointing performance from Walcott who seems to be having a very tough time with his form. Wasteful with his final ball and times and wasn’t threatening enough considering he came up against a defender who was hardly nimble on his feet.
Gervinho | 8.5: The Ivorian tormented the Stoke defence for much of the match and always had a threatening presence. Took his goal exceptionally well and made excellent runs passed defenders to set-up Van Persie on both occasions for his brace.
Marouane Chamakh | 4.5: The Moroccan is not justifying his place in the squad with this performance. Had two golden opportunities to score and failed both times to get the ball on target. Definitely needs to improve if he wants to be considered Van Persie’s back-up.
- Notable Substitutions
Robin van Persie | 9.0: Couldn’t have done more to contribute to the win in the time he was given. Looked dangerous and made brilliant runs to get on the end of both of Gervinho’s low crosses just outside the six-yard box. Great gamble by Wenger to rest him and bring him in late due to muscle tightness.
Andrey Arshavin | 7.0: The Russian seems to be able to contribute much more than Walcott on attack with added creativity and a wide range of passing ability. Helps much more in the build-up to attacks although the way he went down on occasions was just plain hilarious.
Aaron Ramsey | 6.5: The Welshman proved to be the supersub, firing home the winner late in stoppage time and securing us three points.