Stoke 0 – 0 Arsenal
Two points dropped or one gained?
It is over; it is done. We have been to Stoke, got a point, nobody got injured and we have provided the local Neanderthals with their annual pantomime. What a low form of our species lives in that proverbial hole. I have been to Stoke once, and, if I can help it, will never go again, for football or for work. What they did and keep doing to Rambo should not be forgotten, ever. Let’s leave it at that.
We were a team of three yesterday: a solid defence, relatively well protected by the Flame; a willing/enthusiastic midfield, and; a hard working but toothless attack.
Cech was fabulous, our CBs were robust and mostly in control of the game and our FBs did their work with focus and energy. We dropped two points against Pool in extra time and we won one during the same period yesterday afternoon, with great saves by PC and never say die defending by the likes of Rambo. Flamini sat in front of the back four and did a solid job for most of the game – more we could not have asked of him. He scurries, he sweats, he throws himself in front of bullets, he puts his foot in when it matters and he never looks at the clock. You have got to love him.
Playing Flamini deep and young ones Rambo and Ox in front of him – like a 4-1-2-3 – meant that the Orcs did not get into their attacking game for almost the entire game. Add to that Theo’s speed and running and Stoke had to play deeper than they probably wanted to. As a result, we made them look ordinary at home which is the second biggest outcome of the game. (First one being the away point.)
Life without Ozil (or Alexis, Jack, Cazorla, Rosicky) is a bit bleak though. It just shows how big an influence he has on our game currently as we looked equally as ordinary as the vile Orcs on the day. Giroud worked his socks off but the referee was part of the Orcs annual open air pantomime and was not going to protect him against the continuous, cynical fouls by the home team. Theo worked hard too but was very ineffective and his lack of football skills were cruelly exposed: more than I can remember ever seeing this before. Theo has speed to burn, and when played into space, he is an awesome weapon; he is also deadly in the box with his no-nonsense shoot-to-kill approach to attacking football. But when it comes to linking up with others, holding on to the ball or creating something by himself, our smooth-talking England international has severe limitations. The good thing about Theo is that he is made of Teflon: lack of form or criticism does not affect him for long, if at all: I expect him to score the winner against the Chavs next weekend.
The one thing I really enjoyed about the game, other than our stout and proud defending, was another fine performance by Joel. He was easily our best attacker on the day with a lot of composure and time on the ball when others were rushing and misplacing their passes. He helped out Bellerin and other defenders a lot with some good positioning and timely interceptions; he brought the ball forward well and made clever and effective decisions when making his next move; he produced a beautifully weighted, surgical through-ball from which Giroud could have scored (if he had kept his attempt low rather than at the knee-height of the impressive goalie); and he worked his socks off without losing his style or composure. Top man.
A good point and the end of a difficult, compact period with simply too many injuries in midfield. We now have only seven away games but nine home games left, and key players are returning. It feels to me like the end of the middle section of a three-section book and we did well in picking up many points and only get beaten once (Southampton) in a mad period of PL games. Let’s give the Chavs a hiding on Sunday and show the rest of the PL who is boss. COYG!!