Arsenal travelled to the Britannia Stadium and once again came away with empty hands, getting beaten 3-2 by Stoke City.
Ever since Stoke got promoted to the Premier League, they have been a pain in the backside for the gunners, and Arsene Wenger has always had trouble trying to find a way past them. It proved to be the case in this game as well, with the horrendous defending in the first half proving too much for the comeback attempt in the second half.
Stoke City took the lead almost after kick off, with Peter Crouch scoring from cross range after Calum Chambers completely missed clearing it with his head from the cross. To Arsenal’s credit though, they did not let that affect their game and had a good amount of possession. What they lacked though was any sort of urgency and were careless in their passing. And of course, without Koscielny, their defending once again went for a toss, with Bojan Krkic completely unmarked to slot in yet another cross from the sidelines. Things just kept getting worse for Arsenal as Stoke scored another goal in the first half, this one coming from a corner. While one would associate most goals from Stoke coming from dead ball situations, but this was their first after a long, long time.
Half time saw the introduction of Danny Welbeck in place of Hector Bellerin, with Flamini taking up the Left Back position. While that did not see further defensive destruction, the damage had already been done. There were signs of a comeback after Cazorla converted a penalty and Ramsey scored from a corner, but Calum Chambers’ second yellow put paid to any further goals, and Arsenal go back home with yet another defeat.
After the game, Arsene Wenger tried to find positives from his team’s performances, but even he struggled. Wenger said, “There’s a lot of regret, we had given a lot. We showed great energy levels and a a great response. The spirit of the team was fantastic. Defensively we missed start of game. We gave easy goals away. We were not decisive in challenges. Once we were 3-0 down, we had a mountain to climb. We did climb, but a bit unlucky I must say.
I think we were a bit inexperienced at the back. We couldn’t play Laurent Koscielny and couldn’t play Nacho Monreal, altogether we were maybe a bit softer.
“What goes through the mind at half-time? Everybody is down so you have to pump the team up and make decisions to change what can be changed. It’s frustrating to see them lose. There were a lot of positives – defensively we were not strong enough.
“Anger doesn’t help the team to play well. The players know we missed the start of game. If you come here you have to be on the first ball and have to win the header. We missed the start of the game. We also missed players like Laurent Koscielny – he couldn’t play today.
“For Stoke, it’s their game of the year. They have more animosity against us than other teams. In the future, we have to be prepared for more commitment. We unlock them by winning challenges and showing it from the start.”
Arsenal need to once again start rebuilding some form, and the sooner Wenger figures out a way of doing it, the better it would be for his team and the fans.