Arsenal 0 – 0 Stoke City
On the back of a goalless draw against Sunderland last week, Arsenal were still looking for their first goal of the Premier League season. A tough game away at Stoke was our next test.
Unlike our game versus Sunderland, Arsene Wenger opted to start Giroud, Cazorla & Podolski, leaving Walcott to warm the bench. Gervinho also kept his place in the starting eleven. Mannone was (worryingly) replacing the injured Szczesny.
The first half was filled to the brim with hopeless exasperation. It was immediately clear that we were going to be lacking our rhythm once again. The midfield seemed to be completely disconnected from the forwards, and our fullbacks didn’t want to push forward to create chances.
Stoke were traditionally putting ten men behind the ball, and lofting it up to Crouch at every opportunity. Our midfield trio of Arteta, Diaby & Cazorla were struggling to read each other as passes went astray and attacks simply weren’t being formulated.
Despite our heavy legs going forward, Peter Crouch was being dealt with reasonably well at the back. Mertesacker & Vermaelen were solid and weren’t allowing much space for the Stoke giant to produce anything prominent.
The second half began with a bright spell by Arsenal. Podolski, Arteta & Cazorla linked up well to create a good passage of play, and we were suddenly penetrating Stoke’s defences with a little more ease. But it was short-lived.
Stoke being Stoke, were stamping and sliding at every opportunity. Cazorla & Vermaelen in particular felt the full force of some dangerous challenges. Giroud however, was battling valiantly against the Stoke defenders, making good runs and winning important headers to bring our midfielders into play.
Eventually, Walcott, Chamberlain & Ramsey (Who was boo’ed by the Stoke City fans) were thrown on for Podolski, Gervinho & Cazorla. A last throw of the dice from Wenger to ignite some sort of fight back against our abysmal start to the season. Walcott made good runs in behind the back four, and Giroud threatened late on with an ambitious effort to try to catch Begovic off his line, but to no avail.
The final whistle blew, and the Stoke City fans howled in delight. Tony Pulis, the man who saw nothing wrong with his fans boo’ing Aaron Ramsey, literally skipped back to the dressing room in ecstasy.
The Arsenal goal drought continues, and with Liverpool next on our fixture list, we’re going to have to sharpen up, erm, sharpish.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Dealt with crosses and throw-ins well, but had little else to do. No complaints.
Another below par display from Carl. Failed to get forward enough, and was easily beaten down the right hand side.
Done what was needed. Kept Peter Crouch quiet and attacked the ball well at times. Solid performance.
The skipper was in fine form, winning headers and challenges, and distributing well. Not enough of his trademark surges into the box though.
Done well to keep Pennant quiet. Linked up with Podolski well enough and did his job. Not enough going forward.
A mixed bag for Abou. Made some important challenges and interception, but was awful going forward. Could have grabbed a goal.
Man of The Match. Despite playing in a deeper role, he kept us ticking throughout the midfield. Made some excellent challenges also.
Made a few good long-range efforts, one of which tested the Stoke ‘keeper. Wasn’t as influential as his last game. Needs more time to settle. Subbed.
Made some good runs behind the back four and attempted to run at players. Isolated for most of the game. Subbed.
Suffered from a poor end product last weekend. This weekend he had no product at all. Drifted in and out of the game. Subbed.
Excellent movement, hard-working and won most of his headers. Almost grabbed a late winner from long-range.
Walcott [6.5/10], The Ox [6/10], Ramsey [6/10]
[title]The Elusive Goal[/title]
You can’t help but think we just need that one goal to kick-start our faltering season. Starting out with Podolski & Giroud certainly made a difference. However I think I’d start Walcott and leave Gervinho on the bench in the future.
Despite our slow start, I’m still not too worried. Inklings of talent can be seen amongst our players, and time will help bring those qualities to light. Our team has been re-built, and it’s going to take time to click. Lets hope that time ends against Liverpool.
What did you think of the game? Let us know in the comments section below.