Stoke City away rarely offers us any excitement. Similarly to against Southampton we gave the ball away far to easy and lacked fluency throughout the entire team. But unlike our midweek win our defending was horrific. A penalty converted by Santi Cazorla and a terrific volley from Aaron Ramsey gave us hope, but our first half calamity dealt us another setback in the race for a top four finish as let’s be honest – that’s all we’re aiming for now.
We consistently allowed Stoke to cross, Kieran Gibbs didn’t put in enough effort to stop Walters. If you stop the supply how are Stoke going to score? They won’t. But we gave them far too much space and gifted them three goals.
Calum Chambers struggled with the intensity at centre half. Although he dealt largely well with Peter Crouch several poor decisions from the Englishman made it a game to forget while his two yellow cards are a continued example of his inexperience even if the second was a little harsh with all things considered.
Arsenal’s over reliance on an injured Laurent Koscielny is frustrating. It’s what we all predicted would happen when Wenger failed to bring in another defender in the summer. The shortcomings were so glaringly obvious, put Michael Owen in the managers seat and even he would’ve thought twice (that’s a first).
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Steve Bould needs to get a grip of this Arsenal back line. However it’s easy to identify the problem there – a different defence every game means there is no cohesion at the back. The defensive shape was awful, we weren’t switched on from the get-go and we allowed Stoke, yes Stoke, to carve our defence apart. Embarrassing.
Per Mertesacker struggled without Koscielny by his side, Bellerin was always in for a tough time and Gibbs is clearly not fully fit. We’ve already touched on Chambers, Arsenal football club should not be relying on two 19-year-old defenders, it’s madness. Flamini is not a stable option. Remember that horribly aimed slide tackle where he allowed Stoke the entirety of their left wing? ‘Nuff said.
We saw a bit more fluency in patches going forward but we missed the cutting edge when it mattered the most. Olivier Giroud unfortunately has a habit of spurning a chance right when he has the ability to change a game. His headed miss early in the first half cannot be explained in any other way than catastrophic.
Alexis Sanchez was our most influential attacking outlet as per usual but he just can’t do it on his own. The Chilean was unlucky not to add to his 14 goal tally when his brilliant run ended in rattling the post.
Ramsey’s volley will boost his confidence but we still look unconvincing in the final third. Our crossing was again wasteful and it’s just not good enough when you look at the ‘star’ names on the team sheet. We did score from a corner. Second time this season. Is that a new record since the days of Campbell and Toure?
The referee’s a [what word rhymes with banker again?]
Anthony Taylor continues to be a joke. Alexis gets fouled by a sloppy Bardsley challenge and gets penalized for it.
Why on earth Taylor called back our quick free kick when Alexis was fouled (again) is another example of shocking refereeing, not to mention Chambers’ yellows when Crouch went unpunished for most of the game and Charlie Adam throttled Alexis and escaped with a caution.
But at the end of the day the referee didn’t lose the game for us, we threw it away.
Stoke City supporters continue to amaze everyone with their continued boos of Aaron Ramsey. Disgusting sportsmanship from the Potters faithful and it’s no wonder they maintain the nickname ‘the Orcs’.
But let’s put it behind us. Next up is Galatasaray. Alexis will be handed a rest and perhaps a few others should too like Ramsey and The Ox.