A draw obviously isn’t the best result especially in our quest to seal third spot but coming away from the Britannia with a one-all draw is a very good result for Arsenal.
The result is more appreciated based on the fact that both Manchester clubs got only a point there as did Chelsea, while Liverpool left the Britannia with nothing… oh yea, ditto the Tiny Tots.
Then the result is most appreciated when you add Wigan Athletic’s astounding 4-0 drubbing of Newcastle United, a result that means we will have a four point lead over the chasing pack when the rest of the weekend’s fixtures are over.
Over to our performance then. Having lost three of our last four visits here, going behind to Peter Crouch’s header after nine minutes made it seem it’d be deja vu.
More so as the goal had come against the run of play, with Begovic already put to test off a shot from Yossi Benayoun and the PFA & FWA Player of the Year’s header few minutes before Crouch’s goal.
Robin van Persie would finally register a goal from open play after going about 11 hours without one, getting on the end of a Tomas Rosicky cross to equalise.
Benayoun is commended here for winning the ball off Shotton and initiating the move that resulted in the captain’s 130th goal in his Arsenal career.
Unfotunately, the rest of our afternoon was laden with misses as Gervinho, Thomas Vermaelen and Aaron Ramsey fired shots wide while van Persie had a soft header saved comfortably.
Most importantly, Bacary Sagna made a clearance late in the game as the towers that be at Stoke went aerial on us in search of an undeserved winner late on.
With that, the players get the following in ratings:
Szczesny – 7
Sagna – 8
Koscielny – 7
Vermaelen – 7
Gibbs – 7
Ramsey – 7
Song – 7.5
Rosicky – 8
Benayoun – 7.5
Gervinho – 6
van Persie – 7.5
Diaby continues his return to actually being a footballer with another decent appearance from the bench for Ramsey. We stay hopeful for his feet’s lasting ‘fitness’ this time around.
We could have had a penalty in the closing quarter hour of the match after Whelan ‘bullied’ the very industrious Benayoun in the box. Arsène Wenger revealed after the match that he’d been told by the assistant referee that the incident hadn’t been seen.
Onto another sensory device and Tony Pulis’ hearing left him unaware of the senseless booing of Ramsey who impressed on the day. He did criticise Gooners in the stadium for booing Ryan Shawcross… a rare case of SHS here; Selective Hearing Syndrome.
Wenger’s New Man
Le Professeur has hinted that his next assistant on the bench will be one with a history at the club, a welcome hint I might add, mind had started infatuating with the idea of Pep… nevermind.
With Pat Rice set to retire at season’s end, a host of names have propped including Tony Adams, Martin Keown and academy boss Steve Bould though the latter only recently ruled himself out, sort of.
Personally, I would much love to have the Dutch master Dennis Bergkamp as Rice’s replacement next season as I see him as an ideal successor to Wenger, who would prefer to have someone that will keep the ‘philosophy’ going at the club.
Share your thoughts below about the result at Stoke and on who you see being Wenger’s new sidekick from next season.
One of our bogey teams visits the grove today, with Stoke doing well in the top 5 of the of the table and us on the second page of the table in 11th position, a win is very much needed. But have no fears, Delap or not, Arsenal have never lost to Stoke at home, at least not in this modern era. Their bogeyness only works at the Brittania.
We are a team on ascendancy and what better way to stamp that than beat a team that has always been a thorn in our sides and then that Ramsey incident. I must say, with Stoke’s approach to the game I fear for Van Persie but they should be more worried about our own attacking threat.
Bar RVP, our attackers have been poor in recent weeks and the one actually banging in the goals(Oxlade-Chamberlain) continues to languish on the bench. Our exotic number 9 hasn’t played a premier league minute, nott one and Chamakh continues to come in and go out of the squad entirely.
For this game, I’d gladly take a 1-0 victory but we’re at home so I say go for the jugular and kill them off, give the lads a morale boosting win a la Sunderland. I expect the defence to continue their impressive play from the last two games and hopefully see Park play today.
Possible Line-Up: Szczesny-Djourou-Koscielny-Mertesacker-Santos-Song-Arteta-Ramsey-Gervinho-Walcott-RVP
Prediction : Arsenal 3:1 Stoke
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With little or nothing to play for again in the season than securing 3rd place, with the day already shadowed by the super sunday game between United and Chelsea we travel to the Brittania stadium to meet Stoke City. Only the hardest fans would say mathematically we could still win the title, but I don’t share their optimism.
As Expected, a lot has been made of this fixture because it marks the return of Aaron Ramsey to the place where he got his ankle broken by Ryan Shawcross & ultimately ruled out for 8 months. This led to a series of back & forth between both club managers which spilled to the Arsenal fans who continue to boo Shawcross each time both teams meet. Its reported that Ramsey still hasn’t returned any of his assailants calls or messages. Oh well.
On to team news for the day, Captain Cesc is still ruled out and he’s joined on the sidelines by Nasri, Diaby and Djourou who is carrying a knock. That means Ramsey is set to keep his place and Arshavin should come in for Nasri. Thomas Vermaelen has also been pencilled in for a return to the line up in Djourou/Kozzer’s place. With nothing much left to fight for, it would be nice to win our remaining games just to end the season on a high.
Possible Formation : Chezzer-Sagna-Djourou-Vermaelen-Clichy-Wilshere-Song-Ramsey-Walcott-Arshavin-RVP.
Prediction : 1-3
From wherever you’re reading, have a lovely day.
Arsene Wenger gave a pre-match media briefing this afternoon and some interesting issues came up. He gave an insight into the weekend’s trip to the Brittania stadium, home of Stoke City. One of the things he talked about is the injury situation at the club.
Thomas Vermaelen could make a surprise return to the team just as the season comes to an end. The 25-year-old has had a season to forget in which he missed most of the campaign due to an Achilles injury. He was thought to only be out for a short while, but as with many other Arsenal players, weeks turned into months. Last week, he made a return to the reserves, playing his first 90 minutes of football in 8 months in a reserves game against Manchester United. Had this come earlier in the season, we might be rejoicing, but considering how our season has panned out, the best we can hope for is a good pre-season for him and readiness to start next term.
Another man who may be making a dramatic return to the Brittania is Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman has started only three games since breaking a leg at Stoke in last February. He stepped in to replace captain Cesc Fabregas against Manchester United last weekend and did so with distinction, scoring the lone goal of the game. Cesc picked up a thigh injury last week and has yet to return to full training and it is as though Arsene has decided to stick with Ramsey for the tough trip.
Someone has been benefiting from these injuries and that person is none other than new number 1, Wojciech Szczesny. The lad has had a lot of playing time mainly due to injuries to Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski and he took time out to talk about his experience as Arsenal’s number one. He stressed on the importance of having a father figure in Jens Lehmann around him.
”It’s very interesting actually – after every game he talks to me in great detail. He also takes me to one side at training, or when we’re doing some stretching, and gives me a lot of advice about little aspects of my game”.
Wenger also took time out to “apologize” for his refusal to bring in another defender over the winter break. In January, we were firing on all cylinders and we could have done with an enforcer at the back. Apparently, he expected Vermaelen to be back earlier, but the Belgian suffered a couple of setbacks. Thanks to hindsight, we know how our vulnerability at the back has contributed to a 6th successive trophy-less season.
So it is as though, Jack Wilshere has decided to represent his country in this summer’s U-21 Championships. I really do not understand why a lot of fans are giving him stick. The lad has played his heart out for us, if he wants to represent his country, why should we not let him? The last thing we want on our hands is an unhappy Wilshere disrupting our start to next season. So, from us at Memoirs of A Gooner, we wish him the best of luck.
Tomorrow’s post should put you in the right frame of mind for Sunday’s game.
From wherever you are reading, have fun.
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