The 2-0 result against Stoke doesn’t quite match Arsenal’s dominance of the game, and despite the pundits hacking on about Wenger’s love of over-intricate football and not enough size, the reason we didn’t win 5 or 6 nil was down to luck and some good goalkeeping by the Stoke keeper. Certainly Arsenal came out of the gate with a lot more confidence than quite a few fans and were unlucky not to be 1-0 up after 5 or so minutes when Arshvin’s slightly heavy touch let Sorensen (the Stoke keeper) get a jump on the ball and make a great save. Arsenal pressing didn’t amount to a goal, though Eboue was having a very bright game and Stoke’s threat was mainly the Delap long throw. That a team, with a number of good players, were reduced to such tactics says a bit about how a small team has to find a niche to stay in the premier league but there is a touch of anti-football about it, and certainly it gave Almunia kniptions (Almunia looked a little lost on these threats, but since he didn’t let anything get by him, I’ll leave criticism for another time. When Arshavin drew a penalty and we thought that the pressure would final pay off but the keeper guessed the right way and moved early to save Fabregas’ shot (which granted wasn’t top drawer)—we were missing RVP again and it looked like things might not go our way. However Arshavin, again, made a darting run into the box, held off a stiff challenge and finally beat the goal keeper. Yet another bit of luck for Stoke saved them, as Traore crossed and it hit Faye and bounced off the post and then Eboue’s leg as Fabregas’ shot from close range and was almost already celebrating. So at the end of the first half only 1-0 and, from the fan’s perspective edgy as the Delap’s continued. Vela was on for Rosicky in the second half. Rosicky had a decent half, don’t think he was injured, I think Arsene wanted to make sure that Vela got a run out, and he certainly was a threat and gave Arsenal another look. But it was Ramsey who scored the second goal, after Arshavin was strong enough to hold up the ball on a one-two. It was a wonderful struck ball by Ramsey, screwing it past Sorenson with the outside of his right foot. Ramsey came on for Eboue, who did pick up a knock. A shame really because he was having a bright game; ironic also that Eboue got in the way of an Arsenal goal (nothing he could do about it) and Ramsey scored one. I could say something about the will of G-d, but I won’t. For me, Ramsey hasn’t been as good as people say, and often his passes are not that accurate or not well thought out, but today the goal made up for it. It the second half, Arhsavin, again was denied by the woodwork. So luck would have it that it was 2 not 5 nil (one hit the bar, one hit Eboue, and the penalty save). But it was a good performance. The only thing to worry about is injuries, Eboue but more worrying Traore who was replaced by Silvestre with a few minuts to go. He seemed to take a knock on the ankle. Traore actually had one of his best games I’ve seen, and after being burned by Wright-Phillips mid week, Stoke offered no real threat to him. He was solid in the tackle and also made a few great runs, though his crosses were not that great, he created space and opportunity and it was his cross that came of the cross bar and Fabregas whacked at Eboue on the line. Gallas also limped off at the end of the game, so lets hope that’s not serious. But Arshavin had a magnificient game, and though Eduardo was out with an injury forcing Arsehvin in a central role, I think he is, on the strength of this performance the best person suited for it.
They have a week off now. I think it’ll be Senderos and Silveste in CL mid week.