|Jonathon Walters and Laurent Koscielny clashed for the penalty|
To concede to a Jonathon Walters penalty was probably the worst way we could've lost. A man that's missed four of his last six penalties of course tucked it away when playing against Arsenal. Whether the penalty should've been given though is debatable. Walters himself kicked the ball into the flaying arm of Koscielny and the ref rather harshly pointed to the spot.
There were a few opportunities that could've prevented a defeat though. Lukas Podolski fired wide from a great position in the first half. Cazorla meanwhile passed on the opportunity to lay Podolski off at one point when he was in a great position, instead he shot at goal. The best chance of them all fell to Yaya Sanogo though. In the dying moments of the game, Oxlade-Chamberlain who should've come on before hand or maybe even started, got to the byline and pulled the ball back. Sanogo was standing about six yards out with the goal at his mercy but planted the ball high and into the crowd. It was a game of ifs and buts but we didn't deserve to win the game, a draw would probably have been a fair reflection.
One of the games poorest performances came from Olivier Giroud though. He looked to have regained some form last week after his double against Sunderland. However against Stoke he was back to his usual self. I may be being a bit harsh on him but all he seemed to do was attempt to hold the ball up, climb all over the defenders, fall over and then moan to the ref. The most frustrating aspect of Giroud's game is that he always seems to play with his back to goal. At the beginning of the season he was making a lot of runs, but at the moment that doesn't appear to be happening.
The team selection was criticised after the game and I must admit looking back on it there could have been some changes. Before the game. I was all for us playing a narrower style considering it worked so well earlier in the season when the likes of Walcott and Podolski were out injured. However, Oxlade-Chamberlain didn't have an influence in the game until he entered the fray in the 74th minute. His energy changed us going forward and had he been starting then we may have come away smiling. Mathieu Flamini meanwhile probably would've relished a battle against Stoke's physical midfield.
Up next is arguably our biggest game of the season yet as we face Everton in the FA Cup. Win and everyone involved within Arsenal is happy again. Lose and we can really start to question what's gone wrong so quickly. Many players will be away on international duty during midweek though which really isn't great preparation for such a game.
The teams lineups:
Stoke: Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters, Nzonzi, Whelan, Walters, Adam(73), Arnautovic(88), Crouch.
Subs: Sorensen, Muniesa, Wilkinson, Palacios, Ireland(73), Etherington(88), Guidetti.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere(81), Cazorla, Rosicky(74), Podolski(67), Giroud.
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain(74), Ozil(67), Gnabry, Sanogo(81).
Referee: Mike Jones.