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A few thoughts on the Stoke City RFC match

January 13, 2015

Arsenal v Stoke City RFC has become a grudge match between two clubs that for many of my years watching Arsenal was simply a match between a big club and a middle range at best with no issues. Today I get great joy from watching Arsenal beating Stoke City RFC. Arsenal struggle away at Stoke, Arsenal blow Stoke away at home. The Shawcross effect!

Travelling to Arsenal I found out that my Son’s daily travel card on the tube had gone up from £3.60 to £6.00 in the January fare rise hikes (robbing barstewards). The staff in Costa’s coffee shop in Holloway Road were extremely unhelpful and on complaining I have been given a Costa card pre-loaded with £10. So it is worth complaining?

It was nice to see Mesut Ozil named in the squad for the match, starting on the bench along with Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey. Still no Gibbs, Arteta or Welbeck. Oooooooooospina started in-goal in place of “I am having a fag” Szczesny. Coquelin kept his place in the team and Giroud was back from suspension.

Arsenal started the match like they meant business and wanting to make up for a very poor performance at the Britannia in early December. I hear a lot about Stoke City’s style of play which I can also see for myself.  When needed and often against Arsenal they can be thuggish yet to be fair they can also play some good football under Mark Hughes.

Stoke City don’t often get taken apart, the experts say. That may well be true as many of their results against top sides show, however, Stoke did get taken apart on Sunday by Arsenal and the only reason Stoke didn’t play well was because Arsenal did not let them and Stoke could be thankful they didn’t go home losing 6-0.

Sanchez twice and Giroud both had chances well saved by Begovic. Rosicky had a good run into the Stoke area and his low shot was also well saved by Begovic who tipped it round the post for a corner. Sanchez took the resulting corner which fell short, Koscielny picked it up, passed back to Sanchez and turned back into the area. Sanchez looked up saw Koscielny and put his next cross bang on the Bosses head 1-0! Arsenal.

Debuchy looking to see the ball out with Arnautovic close by ended with Arnautovic giving Debuchy a nudge that sent Debuchy awkwardly into the hoardings and that was Debuchy’s game over (Dislocated shoulder). Bellerin came on to replace Debuchy.

It makes me laugh when The FA mention there is no case to answer as the referee saw the incident as if this somehow negates what Arnautovic did? Chambers got sent off at Stoke for a foul and a tug. Two incidents, two booking, one red card, no allowances given. Players put heads in faces that hurt no one and get three match bans. Giroud was pushed against QPR, retaliated and got sent off. Charlie Adams gets an Arsenal player in neck hold gets away with it. Is there any sodding wonder supporters are bloody confused as to what is going on, let alone players.

In the thirty-fifth minute Sanchez played a loose ball to Rosicky that was cut out and yet the Stoke players poor control allowed Sanchez to nip in, complete a very smart one-two with Rosicky, then run into the area, do a shimmy and tuck the ball nicely in at the near post totally wrong footing Begovic 2-0 nice! What can you say about Sanchez! simply an amazing footballer.

You would think Giroud’s sending off against QPR would have made him learn yet once again Giroud puts his hand up slapping Shawcross, on another day, that could have been a red card. Silly boy.

Early in the second half Arsenal put the game to bed. Oxlade-Chamberlain went on a mazy run, was fouled by Sidwell and the referee gave Arsenal a free kick. Sanchez took it, hit the wall and the ball deflected slightly, Begovic tried to stop it going in only to touch the ball onto the post where the ball rebounded off the post, hit Begovic and trickled into the net. Game over!

Finally the referee Moss books a Stoke player Wollscheid for persistent fouling. Cameron is then booked and this is followed by Crouch being booked for a poor tackle on Coquelin. Crouch should have been off after his tussle with Monreal in first half. Crouch is all-elbows at the best of times and I’m sure he is allowed some leeway due to his size.

3-0 and you can’t get home!!! 3-0 and you can’t get home!!! 3-0 and you can’t get home!!!

Ozil came on to the delight of the Arsenal crowd to replace Giroud. The match had gone a bit flat since the third goal but is was suddenly lit up by a good Arsenal move that saw Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cazorla exchange a one-two ending with Cazorla chipping the keeper but the ball just went over the bar. Then Sanchez broke away and unselfishly laid the ball on for Theo with just the goalie to beat and Theo once again fluffed his lines. Should have scored, poor effort.

Full time 3-0. Arsenal head back above Spurs into fifth spot.

I would prefer not to speak about the officials, however, once again I have to say the officiating in this game was awful at times. Though it did seem as if Mr. Moss had been spoken to at half time as his performance changed in the second half.

All in all though a pretty good result. Ooooooospina played well and kept his second clean sheet on the bounce. Bellerin also did well when he came on and I thought both full backs had good matches.Bellerin looks to be a good find. Does his job well, hard in tackle, reads the games well, attacks well and can put in crosses. I for one have no issue with him continuing in the right back role.

The BFG was solid he obviously plays better with Koscielny in tandem. Kos as well as scoring always makes you feel a lot more comfortable about the defence though Arsenal were not really put under much pressure during the match. Coquelin gave a good account of himself and maybe the lad is not the answer we all want, but he is performing well by doing all is asked of him and being disciplined in his role. What I also liked about Arsenal’s defending against Stoke was it came form front to back in the match with everyone chasing back and helping out when needed. No one hid.

Cazorla, Rosicky and Sanchez all had very good games. The three of them are so creative, skillful and yet all three are not afraid to battle as well when needed. Giroud played well and gave the Stoke defence plenty to think about, even if at times it was just keeping them on their toes. Chamberlain was also good, making some very strong runs at the Stoke defence and causing problems and was unlucky with one of his shots that just went wide from a forceful run. Walcott and Ozil who came on for cameo’s for twenty-five and twenty minutes respectively were still obviously looking for match sharpness and hopefully they will both ease in over the next few weeks and stay for the remainder of the season. The idea that Arsenal could field Ozil, Walcott, Sanchez and one of Welbeck and Giroud looks good, not mentioning Cazorla or Rosicky.

What I liked most though was Arsenal looked like a team, played like a team and looked balanced.

I’m not one for looking at matches as tests, but I would say our next match away to City will show just where Arsenal are right now. Arsenal should have pretty much a strong squad with most of our top players being able to play against City. I actually think we’ll win, we are so overdue a victory against one of rivals.



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