Usually when teams visit “The Britannia” they expect to get their legs snapped for no reason,to concede a goal from a set-piece. But yesterday, Stoke started without Rory Delap which means a player less to give beauty treatment to the ball using towels, facial creams and some other cosmetics to make it look good before hitting the heads of some orc-sized (and minded) “footballers”. On the other hand Arsene decided to take his strongest players because he knew they were up against a team which kicks everything but the ball.
So Arsenal went there with a usual 4-3-3where Robin Van Persie spearheaded their attack with Gervinho and Benayoun on the wings while Song and Ramsey played in the central midfield to provide cover for defenders and assists to the frontline respectively with Rosicky in his free-spirited 13 year old boy role.
The match started in an interesting manner when Van Persie linked up with Rosicky in Stoke’s penalty area but was unable to convert that chance and was denied by Begovic. Dean Whitehead picked up a yellow for his tackle on Alex Song which was just another demonstration of the concept of much-debatable style of play viz “physical football”. Although Arsenal dominated the game but Stoke went up ahead after Etherington’s cross hit towering Crouch who headed it in Szczesny’s net. It was a typical Stoke City F.C goal where defenders hoof the ball upfront or wider players target the largest man on the pitch. It worked against almost all teams and it worked this time around too.
Arsenal responded well within six minutes when Benayoun passed the ball to Rosicky who made a yard of space, crossed the ball to Van Persie and all the Dutchman had to do was to tap that ball in the net. Arsenal could have extended their lead when Sagna provided a brilliant cross in the box to Gervinho who was unable to get his head onto it, owing to the size of his forehead to the an utter disappointment for Arsenal fans. Minutes later Sagna provided another superb cross which met Van Persie at the far post but he was denied by the heroics of Stoke’s goalie Begovic. At this stage Arsenal were in total control of the game and rest of the first half included Arsenal passing the ball around with Potters kicking players for no reason.
Second half started as everyone expected it to – Potters booing Ramsey for no reason, Arsenal passing the ball around but unable to create opportunities, Stoke with their usual long throw ins (at times I feel F.A should provide them those Feudal aged trebuchets to launch that ball!)
and Tony Pulis picking his nose and eating lices from fourth official’s hair down the touch line.
Arsene decided to make a change when tired Ramsey was taken off for Diaby but the biggest talking point of the match was when Chris Foy completed the ritual of not giving Arsenal a penalty after Benayoun was nudged down.
It was such a blatant push that even commentators felt bad for the Israeli bloke because he was not awarded a much deserved spot-kick. Wenger was livid and Stoke fans reactions to his protest were somewhat similar to how our ancestors used to behave during eclipses by throwing their arms in air and yelling “UGH UGH UGH”.
After few minutes Wenger tempted the wrath of Arsenal fans living across the globe and at Britannia by introducing Chamakh in place of Gervinho and Santos for Benayoun leaving Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench. However,it was a wise decision because Arsenal needed the aerial prowess of Chamakh upfront and Chamberlain’s recent performance against Wigan was a sign that he needed some rest.
Stoke made their remaining two changes in the form of Jerome and Delap who came on for Pennant and Etherington(
HE AND CROUCH WILL GET THE BIGGEST SLICE OF BEAR-FLESH IN THEIR AFTER MATCH REVELRY) after Upson was take off in 56th minute. Although,both teams did their best to grab 3 points but all efforts went in vain when Chris Foy blew his final whistle.
I personally think that leaving Britannia with a point and all your players having 206 bones intact in their bodies is a win but one thing which keeps on bugging me is that “Why such belligerence towards a player who suffered a double fracture?” Not even Stoke fans can give a justification for such despicable act. Is it because they thought Ramsey dived on 27 February 2010 and acted as if he broke his leg? Or is it because they think he is the reason why civilisation have not visited that particular part of the world?
Well,whatever be the reason they need to take a look at themselves and decide whether their acts have added something to their club or not. Rest I believe that Arsenal will finish third because New Castle have dropped points and Spurs – well Spurs are Spurs and they’ll keep on messing themselves up.