By Adeniyi Samuel (@seynx)
Arsenal started match day two against Stoke in a much more promising way as they had the better of possession; however both teams failed to create any clear cut chances.
Before the start of the game , the Gunners were rocked by the news of their first choice Wojciech Szczesny’s rib injury while Lukas Fabianski was still struggling with a back problem so Vito Mannone stepped in for his first Premier League appearance since the 2-2 draw at West Ham in October 2009. In all fairness he had little or nothing to do throughout the entire duration of the game.
Arsene Wenger made changes to his upfront pairing by starting Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski while Theo Walcott dropped to the bench. Abu Diaby, Mikel Arteta, Gervinho and Santi Cazorla were drafted into the midfield while Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen and Carl Jenkinson, completed the back four.
Stoke, in recent years, has not been known as a good hunting ground for the Gunners, and it proved yet again while the fact still remains that Stoke plays the ugliest football one can think of. Stoke gave Arsenal an early scare when they put the ball in the back of the net through Jonathan Walters but the assistant referee was quick to disallow the goal.
Arsenal then began to enjoy the majority of possession in midfield and displayed warning signs as they began to press, but like last weekend’s goalless draw against Sunderland, they lacked a cutting edge. Santi Cazorla was again the star man in the first half; he was always looking to play the killer pass. Arsenal thought they should have had a penalty when Andy Wilkinson blocked Lukas Podolski’s goal bound effort with his hand only for the ref to give a corner kick. Stoke City threatened on 29 minutes when Kightly’s 20-yard powerful strike was well held by Arsenal’s third choice Vito Mannone. However, at the other end Asmir Begovic produced an even better stop on 35 minutes as he flung himself to his right to beat away Santi Cazorla’s 25-yard strike.
Arsenal started the second half in a very commanding way and continued to look more likely to get a goal. Arsenal’s lack of concretion nearly cost them a point today in the 58th minute. Gibbs fouled Pennant as he raced down the right with the Stoke winger going down on the edge of the box, but referee Lee Mason waved away calls for a penalty and signaled a goal kick. In the 64th-minute Wilkinson fouled Thomas Vermaelen on the edge of the area but the ref did not see it as malicious so he only gave a yellow card. Mikel Arteta took the free kick, which was smashed it into the wall.
Stoke made a 66th-minute change as Former Gunner Jamie Pennant was replaced by Cameron Jerome. Arsene Wenger made his own double change on 72 minutes as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Gervinho and Lukas Podolski.
Huth’s mis-kick allowed Abou Diaby half a yard in the area, but the midfielder stabbed his shot wide while he should have passed to Theo Walcott. Ryan Shotton replaced Peter Crouch on 79 minutes, as Tony Pulis looked to combat the wide threat of Oxlade-Chamberlain. That meant Walters going back up front with Shotton playing on the right. Pulis introduced more fresh legs two minutes later as Wilson Palacios came on for Glenn Whelan.
Meanwhile, the talking point of the day came when the shameful Stoke City fans were booing Aaron Ramsey as he was getting ready to replace Santi Cazorla. That for me is a disgrace to Stoke FC–are they trying to say it is appropriate to break a fellow professional’s leg? I wonder what Tony Pulis, the Stoke Manager, thinks about it.
Oxlade-Chamberlain headed Arteta’s corner wide but Stoke forced an 86th-minute chance when Kightly’s through ball freed Walters. However, the striker shot lame and it rolled harmlessly to to the waiting hands of Vito Mannone. Aaron Ramsey had the chance to silence the booing boys but he fired just wide from the edge of the area and Giroud almost won it in the 89th minute after gathering the ball on the left wing. The striker spotted Begovic off his line, but his 35 yard chip cleared the bar by inches. His best option was to pass to Aaron Ramsey but he opted to have a go. To me there is no harm in trying.
I have heard a lot of Arsenal supporters saying we seem not to be able to score goals, we need a defensive midfielder and we need backup for Sagna. Well I can tell you Sunderland and Stoke are two of the most physical sides in the premiership and we have coped well with both sides.
Arteta has done and can do the defensive role, Abu Diaby is not a bad player when fit, Jenkinson is a solid cover, Gibbs is doing well by keeping Santos on the bench. Goals will come. Give the new boys a bit of time. Rome was not built in a day. REMEMBER IT TOOK THIERRY HENRY 9 GAMES TO SCORE HIS FIRST GOAL for Arsenal.
Till the next match.
Keep the faith….#goonerfamily #Afc #coyg #teamarsenal #arsenal