This game was originally scheduled for the 18 December, but was postponed because of the snow. Finally I was able to go to it last night. Here’s some thoughts…
Very scrappy game all in all, but a huge win. The 3 points puts us 1 point behind Man USA, although they do have a game in hand.
Match started brightly. Arsenal were really bossing the play for the first 15 mins. Our goal came on 8 mins when Squillaci headed in from close range.
However, the game changed when Cesc was taken off injured after 15 mins. Looked like a hamstring injury, just pulled up after a run. After he went off, the urgency from our game went with him.
Stoke seemed to have came with a game plan: keep it tight till the last 10 mins then go for a winner. After Arsenal scored, the game plan changed slightly: keep it tight till the last 10 mins then go for an equaliser. They were time-wasting right up until 80 mins.
Very little happened for the rest of the half. Arsenal had loads of possession, but wasn’t able to break the defence down. A couple of long throws from Delap, which took an age and was greeted with frustrated boos from the Arsenal fans.
Second half was much the same, fairly uneventful. Stoke probably had the better opportunities - we rarely converted our possession into chances. A Jermaine Pennant free kick went into from side netting, but from my angle I thought it was in. Too close for comfort.
A few more long throws and set plays, but we defended well enough. Djourou headed away a number of crosses and Squillaci also looked assured.
Late on Arsenal found a bit more urgency and created a couple of chances at the death, but most of all kept the ball for the 4 mins of injury time. Job done.
A week after a fantastic, beautiful victory over Barcelona, here was the same team winning ugly against the ugliest. Both massive victories if this team is going to be successful this season. Closing the gap at the top to 1 point, with the Americans going away to Chelsea in a week. Keeping the pressure on.
Decent atmosphere too. Shawcross was roundly booed at every opportunity (less than he deserved). A few songs directed at Pubis too ((example: Pulis, Your a Cunt; Pulis, Pulis, Your a Cunt)). Most pleasing of all were the chantes of “only one Aaron Ramsey!”. I became a bit annoyed with some of the fans around me, booing our own players (Denilson, Theo). Just get behind the team!
Still, after all was said done, it was a good nights work. 1 - 0 to the Football team, you might say (we certainly did). Come on The Arsenal!Image via Arseblog