Arsenal FC suffered a big blow to their title ambitions as they suffered a disappointing loss against Stoke City.
This loss means Arsenal have now dropped down to third in the league table as Liverpool won their match against Southampton, and could drop down to fourth if Manchester City win their matches in hand. Arsenal fans are now surrounded by a sense of Déjà vu as Chelsea opens up a four-point gap at the top of the table and has provided greater importance to their FA Cup tie against Everton as they look for a saving grace. Stoke City on the other hand moved up to 12th place in the table with this vital win and will look to build a bit of momentum heading into the final stages of the season.
The first half of the match was a cagey affair with neither of teams producing any moment to remember, except right at the end when Glenn Whelan’s shot forced Wojciech Szczesny into a good save, while Santi Cazorla had a go at the other end. Stoke City came out in the second half with much more purpose and looked the better side of the two in attack. Finally in the 76th minute the home side were able to take the lead as Laurent Koscielny was penalized for a hand-ball inside the box. Jonathan Walters stepped up and converted from the resultant spot-kick, which ultimately proved to be the winner. Arsene Wenger brought on the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Yaya Sanogo in hope of getting something out of the game, but the Stoke defence held their ground and defended the lead successfully.
Arsene Wenger felt that the penalty awarded to Stoke City was a generous one and insisted that Koscielny didn’t handle the ball deliberately.
“It was a tight game that we lost unfortunately on a very generous penalty.
“Apart from that, I felt that in the first half we had opportunities where we made the wrong decision and chose to take a shot instead of giving the ball, in two or three occasions.
“In the second half, when we started to really push them back in the final third, a counter-attack on the long ball got them a penalty.
“Nobody knows any more what is handball and what is not handball. How many times have we seen that? I can show you 10 situations where the ball hits the hand and it’s no penalty. The hand didn’t go to the ball.” – The Arsenal manager told the press.
But Wenger also insisted that the performance on the day was not good enough for a side with title ambitions.
“It wasn’t our sort of day, because we made it that sort of day.
“Offensively we didn’t create enough and they defended very well. We have to look at ourselves and win our games, and our performance today was not good enough to speak about the title. That’s what we have to realise when we go home.
“I think it was a physical game. We know that Stoke has the highest number of fouls in the Premier League – we knew that before the game – but if you have the right sort of commitment, you can create dangerous situations.” – Wenger added.