Stoke vs Arsenal
Barclay’s Premier League
Kick off:March 01, 2014 3.00 PM BST
An important game for Arsenal to keep the pressure up, but a really dull first half in all honesty, with very little to report on.
It’s certainly not the same Stoke side that we are used to seeing under Pulis, but they were piling the pressure on in the midfield, and asserting their physicality in all areas of the pitch just as Pulis’ side used to. Arsenal players and fans had a few issues with the referee Mike Jones early on, as he seemed to be awarding Stoke free kicks for every little knock, while ignoring seemingly blatant fouls that should have gone Arsenal’s way.
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Adam challenged Arteta for an aerial ball, and when it was obvious he wasn’t going to get to it, he opted instead to scrape his studs down the Spaniards leg. Nothing given by Mike Jones.
Giroud was then sandwiched by two Stoke men, one of them casually stamping on his calf. What’s the referee’s decision? A Stoke free kick of course.
Nearing the end of the half Stoke finally saw a more than deserved first yellow of the match. Erik Pieters charging in late on Giroud, sending the Frenchman flying to the ground. It was clear Giroud was favourite for the ball, but that didn’t stop Pieters from charging in like a bull.
In terms of chances, there was very little created by either side. Szczesny had a save to make from a Whelan shot at the edge of the box, it was struck with venom, but was right down the keeper’s throat as he palmed it away.
Cazorla had a couple of decent chances for the Gunners, his first was a tricky long shot which he bent high and wide; couldn’t really fault him there. He should have done better with his second however, when he was played into space with Podolski overlapping to his left. He could have picked out the German, but opted to shoot instead, his fairly tame shot hit straight at Begovic.
Podolski was equally guilty however, wasting Arsenal’s first real opportunity of the half. He burst into the box as the ball was fed into him, but blasted his shot well wide when he should have at least got it on target.
The second half surely can’t get any worse, let’s just hope Mike Jones is made aware of some of his mistakes in the first half, and comes out with his glasses on for the second forty five. Nil nil after the first half at the Britannia.
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
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