Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
Latest News: Arsenal draw 3-3 with Liverpool, goals came from Ramsey and Giroud (x2) - match thoughts to come!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Arsenal's title challenge halted with defeat against Stoke

This was the type of game that I thought we'd got out of our systems, a tough away trip to one of the smaller teams in the League, but obviously not. Arsenal suffered a bitterly disappointing 1-0 defeat at the hands of Stoke on Saturday afternoon. It was a terrible performance and further backed up the point why we needed to strengthen in January. It was a game where nothing seemed to click, which was frustrating after a relatively easy 4-1 victory last weekend. It was a penalty that sealed our fate, and a rather harsh one at that. However, there were chances that should've won us the game before hand or even grabbed an equaliser late on. The Gunners made just one change from the side last week as Kieran Gibbs replaced the injured Nacho Monreal. Meanwhile Ozil and Vermaelen were back on the bench.
Jonathon Walters and Laurent Koscielny clashed for the penalty
With our tough fixtures coming up this month is was absolutely vital that we won this game, but our familiar Spring collapse seems to be in full flow once again after defeats to Liverpool and Bayern last month. Saying that, we are still in two Cups and are only four points off the leaders in the League. Writing this two days after the game has given me a chance to calm down a little and being only four points off the pace at the top isn't something we should be annoyed about. Something we should be annoyed about though is the manner in which we lost at the weekend. United, Chelsea, Everton and Man City have all failed to win at the Britannia this season too though.

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.
Attendance: 26,711. 

No comments:

Post a Comment