It was another case of lost opportunity as Arsenal only managed to share the points at the Britannia Stadium against Stoke. Utilising their aerial threat, the Potters managed an early goal through their likeliest source, Peter Crouch. It was a typical Stoke goal and a typical Crouch header, but thankfully the lead was soon erased by talisman Robin van Persie courtesy of a superb lobbed ball in behind the defence by the resurgent Tomas Rosicky.
From then onwards, it was Arsenal on the front-foot and the Gunners’ will definitely be ruing missed opportunities. While Crouch’s goal was scored in the ninth minute, Arsenal’s two best chances came even earlier in the match. First was a superb through ball to Benayoun who failed to connect with the shot and secondly to our prolific Dutchman. It was another fine lobbed ball by Rosicky and a superb header by Van Persie, but it was only to be matched by a fine save by Begovic.
The performance continues a familiar trend from last week against Chelsea where the Gunners’ have simply failed to put away their opponents when being the dominant team. Luckily for Arsenal, closest rivals Newcastle dropped points to the resurgent Wigan who are having a fantastic back-end to their campaign. They have really flourished under the tactics of Roberto Martinez in recent weeks.
The draw now puts more pressure on Arsenal to secure maximum points in their last two games against Norwich and West Brom. In order to secure third there is now no room for error as anything less the six points may mean a fourth place finish.
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on the performance…
I believe that it was a game where we have shown great character, great battling qualities. It was a game of two different approaches – one very direct in the air and one who tries to play on the ground. Both teams are good at what they do and that’s why I think it was still an interesting game. We had good chances, especially in the first half. In the second half I felt our fluency dropped a bit in midfield – we still had chances though, especially a penalty that was not given. Overall we deserved at least a point and I can only give credit to my players for their battling qualities and the way they responded to what Stoke offered us – full commitment, well-organised, direct. We did not always cope with it but today I felt we did.
on the penalty claim…
It will go on the tape of all the penalties we have not got this season.
on Stoke spending time on set-pieces…
You are used to it. I was frustrated at times but that happens in every game because I am completely in the game. I was sometimes frustrated but not surprised.
on jeers for Aaron Ramsey…
I don’t think you can be especially proud to boo Aaron Ramsey because I don’t see what he has done wrong in his behaviour. That’s an old story where the fans of Stoke stand behind their player. But it shouldn’t go as far as booing Aaron Ramsey.
on Newcastle’s defeat…
The good result we got was that Newcastle dropped points today but for us it is important to win our next two games. Anything less will not do it [guarantee third place].
on sharpness in the final third…
In the first half we had the chances but we lacked something. It is more about belief because recently we didn’t score so many goals – we didn’t score against Chelsea last week. Maybe it is linked with belief.
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Benayoun Rosicky Ramsey Gervinho
Van Persie (c)
Wojciech Szczesny | 7.0: Could only watch Crouch’s header go into the bottom corner of the Arsenal goal. Thereafter although the Pole did well to marshall his defence and made a number of good punches from dangerous crosses.
Bacary Sagna | 7.0: Was partly at fault for the opening goal after electing to give Etherington to much time and space to measure his cross to Crouch. Otherwise was always running down the flank and also did very well to deny Stoke a very late winner.
Laurent Koscielny | 6.5: A solid performance from the Frenchman who was not afraid to throw himself into every challenge.
Thomas Vermalen | 6.5: Was unable to stop Crouch from scoring the opening goal, but managed to stick to his man for the rest of the game.
Kieran Gibbs | 6.0: While he did keep Pennant quiet and provided great support for Benayoun down the flank, his lack of crossing quality really undid the hard work he put in to help on attack.
Alexandre Song | 7.0: Assumed the role of tempo setter in the absence of Arteta and did well to distribute and break-up many of Stokes attacking plays.
Tomas Rosicky | 8.0: The Czech midfielder produced a number of pin-point balls into the Stoke penalty box all game. A shame that only one of them was convereted.
Aaron Ramsey | 6.0: An average performance by the Welshman who often had his final ball cut out or intercepted. (74′)
Gervinho | 6.5: His ability to get into dangerous positions was evident, but he often dwells to long on the ball. Needs to improve his decision-making and his final ball. (78′)
Robin van Persie | 7.0: Showed great movement to lose his markers to tap-in a great lofted ball by Rosicky. Had a couple more chances that literally fell to his head, but was matched by Begovic.
Yossi Benayoun | 7.0: Was a complete work-horse and it almost paid dividends in the early exchanges, but unfortunately he could not get proper contact with the ball. (83′)
- Notable substitutions
Abou Diaby | 6.0: Was lively when he came on, but proved uneffective and was unable to breach Stoke’s defence. (74′)
Marouane Chamakh | 6.0: Did little to trouble the Stoke defence and didn’t do much to change speculation regarding his future at the Emirates.
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