Stone Age Clubbing: Stoke City 1 – 0 Arsenal – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Stoke City 1 – 0 Arsenal

Arsenal travelled to the stone age cave that is the Britannia Stadium to face Rugby side Stoke City. It’s never an easy game up there, but a result was desperately needed.[quote_right]”[The first half] was rough, scruffy, and without any beauty or excitement in any form.”[/quote_right]

The first half was exactly what you’d expect to get up at Stoke City.

It was rough, scruffy, and without any beauty or excitement in any form. Stoke were employing their usual bully tactics to kick and collide with Giroud, Wilshere and Arteta, whilst Arsenal were struggling to find any rhythm.

The game didn’t really get better with time at all, with only Giroud and Cazorla getting a header and long-range effort on target respectively.

Stoke had done absolutely nothing worth noting either, so when the half time whistle blew, everybody was pretty relieved[quote_left]”In the end, Stoke’s stone age tactics won through, because Arsenal didn’t have the steel to counter it..”[/quote_left]

Unfortunately, the second half held much of the same uninteresting Football. Stoke continued to stamp and smash, whilst Arsenal continued to fumble around with their possession.

Until of course, Stoke won a penalty. In the seventy-fifth minute, Walter flicked the ball up in the box, and Koscielny – for some reason, had his arms high and all over the place, stopping the ball in mid-air. Walters stepped up, and put it away.

Arsenal spend the rest of the game trying, but not succeeding. Ozil, Chamberlain and Sanogo were all thrown on, but it just wasn’t happening for The Gunners.

There was a last gasp chance, as Yaya Sanogo was found by Ox in the box, but the youngster spurned the chance over.

In the end, Stoke’s stone age tactics won through, because Arsenal didn’t have the steel to counter it.

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Sczesney: [7/10]

Pulled off some good saves throughout the game, and was only beaten by the penalty. MOTM by default really.

Sagna: [7/10]

Worked very hard, got forward often, but his final ball was lacking as usual.

Mertesacker: [7.5/10]

No problems from Per. He read the game well, made some good tackles, and held a solid defensive line.

Koscielny: [6.5/10]

Had a decent game up until the penalty, but what an error it was. You can’t have your arms flailing above your head like that, especially in your own box.

Gibbs: [7/10]

Defensively solid, worked well with the midfield, but again, his final ball just wasn’t up to scratch.

Arteta: [6.5/10]

Had some decent spells coming forward with the ball, but he was amongst the bullied today, especially in the first half where he struggled to settle.

Podolski: [6/10] 

Did almost nothing noteworthy. His movement was poor, his work rate was nothing special, and he just looked uninterested. Shouldn’t start the next game.

Cazorla: [6.5/10]

Showed some good feet, but that was about it. Should have passed to Podolski when he let fly with his own tame effort, and didn’t really make much of an impact at any other point in the match. Shouldn’t have started.

Wilshere: [6.5/10]

Worked hard and got stuck in at times, but Stoke were having their way with him really. Jack wasn’t as fluid on the ball as usual, and his passing was very poor in the final third.

Rosicky: [6.5/10] 

Started very well by pressing Stoke high up the pitch, but wilted as the game went on. Passing got worse throughout the second half before he was subbed.

Giroud: [6.5/10] 

Poor movement, not a great work rate, and nothing to show for any of his efforts. In fairness though, he got almost no delivery.

Subs:

The Ox: [7.5/10] – MOTM

Quit sad that Alex gets MOTM. Nobody else had a chance though to be fair. He came on, ran at defences, crossed well and looked lively. Why he didn’t start is beyond me.

Ozil: [7/10]

Came on and looked comfortable in the middle, and very nearly pulled Arsenal level with a shot from a difficult angle which whizzed past the post. Came on too late to have any impact.

Sanogo: [6/10]

Thrown in the deep end really, and blasted a very good chance over the bar as a result. I like him though.

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[title]Stone Age Clubbing[/title]

As I said in the report, “In the end, Stoke’s stone age tactics won through, because Arsenal didn’t have the steel to counter it.”.

The Gunners had no midfield steel to stop the bullying, and Stoke were ecstatic with simply booting and stamping on us as we tried to get our twinkle toe players into space. A tactical nightmare.

Where was Chamberlain? Where was Flamini? Why wasn’t Ozil started or at least brought on earlier? Players like Cazorla are too weak for such battles, and players like Podolski are too lazy.

Arsenal now fall behind Chelsea by four points. Unfortunately, it’s no longer looking like a particularly great season.

Image: Arsenal

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