Stoke 0 Arsenal 0: A tale of two keepers




A grey winter’s day in the Staffordshire produced a fiery contest between rivals: Arsenal and Stoke. A game where both teams saw a lot of goal mouth action, ultimately ended goalless. Arsenal looked to put an end to a sequence which saw them lose their two previous away games at Stoke. The Potters were looking to continue their good form against big teams this season, already defeating the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea in matches at the Britannia.

Stoke as you would expect, began the game like a pack of rabid dogs, trying their hardest to get into our boys heads with needlessly physical play which seamlessly went unnoticed by referee Craig Pawson. His nonchalant approach to the game meant that in a contest with numerous fouls; some cynical, late or from behind, he never found cause to brandish his yellow card.

afc stk giroudDespite Stoke’s overzealous start, the closest they came to scoring in the first half was via a speculative left footed drive from Affelay. Arsenal also struggled to create with play often breaking down in midfield however unlike Stoke we did manage fashion one clear cut chance in the first half.

It comes as no surprise that two of Arsenal’s inform players combined to create the bset chance of the first half. Campbell played his habitual through ball behind the Stoke defence to an unmarked Giroud. Arsenal’s top scorer was quickly closed down by the talented Butland who smothered his shot, keeping the scores tied.

Neither of the teams managed to produce anything more meaningful and at the interval both sides were deadlocked.The second half saw both teams adopt similar mentalities to the first. Stoke looked to use their physical advantage to wear us down whilst we looked to defend solidly and hit them on the break. Giroud had the first noteworthy chance of the half with a well-placed header to Butlands right hand side. The young keeper saved to deny Giroud, keeping stoke in the game.

Craig Pawson also continued to shy away from big decisions, waving away a big penalty claim early on in the second half. Walcott was put through with a delicious slide reel pass by Ramsey. Wollshcheid had no option but to pull down Theo and like many other decisions prior, Pawson opted to waive away claims rather than making the big decision.

If the brilliance of Cech was ever in question his second half display undoubtedly demonstrated the brilliance of the record breaking keeper. A brilliant double save first from Joselu and then from Bojan kept the scores level.

Moments later Cech denied Joselu with another brilliant save. The Spanish forward received the ball unmarked on Arsenal’s left side. He cut in past Koscielny and fired a shot which was saved comfortably by Cech.

Arsenal did manage to create one more half chance late in the game. The Ox found Campbell in acres of space on the edge of Stoke’s penalty area but the Costa Rican was unable to find a telling finish as he blazed his shot high and wide.

Stoke, the more dominant team in the second half looked to create one more opening. A looping header from Jonathan Walters was cleared off the line by Ramsey and the majestic Cech was alive once more to deny Joselu on the rebound.

pl table wk 22

Although a victory would have been ideal a draw is an acceptable result when you take into account the context of the game. We had four starters missing from our squad today and the boys still managed to put in a valiant defensive shift and gain a result in a fixture that we usually struggle in. We’re still top of the league with key players like Ozil and Alexis soon to join the squad. Even though our midfield lacked any real defensive chemistry they demonstrated that they’re willing to fight for results and we should see that as a good indicator of the current team spirit at the club.




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