“Both sides are good at what they do,” said Arsene Wenger, trying to be dignified and diplomatic after getting ridiculous stick from the Stoke fans and having to listen to them booing Aaron Ramsey.
Stoke are good at what they do, but what is the point? I mean really, what is the point? They probably won’t go down playing like that, but they’re not going to win anything either and no-one will hold them up as an example of achievement. They are a haven for tall, competent footballers who can sustain that style for ninety minutes.
In his post-match interviews Tony Pullis said he was proud that they hadn’t been beaten by any of the big teams this year. But what about the football Tony? What does Tony Pullis think of Roberto Martinez and Wigan?
The game itself was pretty dull stuff with the ball spending a lot of time in the air. Ramsey put in a really good seventy minutes. I want to give him the first mention because he got stick from the Stoke fans, which is pathetic, but has also been under attack from some Arsenal fans too, which I think has been unfair. He hasn’t been as good as he can be this season, but most a lot of players go through phases like that. Yesterday he was good.
So was Rosicky. He’s obviously thrown off the illness that sapped his skill and energy last week. He was probably our most effective player again and topped our Stoke match poll by some margin.
Gervinho was lively and showed some good moves until it came to shooting, so no big change there sadly. The two goals cam from rare lapses from both defences which were pretty tight throughout. Santos was brought on late in game, but to replace Benayoun rather than Gibbs. Arsene Wenger seems to like him as an impact sub who will take the game to the opponents when we are struggling to get through and I think he is right. Plus it has the advantage of keeping Santos involved when Gibbs is getting the starts.
Marouane Chamakh also made a rare appearance, but didn’t really get enough service to show whether we’ve been missing anything or not. Most Arsenal fans assumed that he and Diaby were brought on to add some extra height against the vertically challenging Stoke.
You can picture the scene in Pullis’ office can’t you? Scouts and agents describe a player’s qualities at length, show video clips. “His name is Messi boss and it turns out his long lost granny lives just down the road in Hanley. She’s getting on and he really wants to spend some time with her.” Pullis looks up from under his cap, “how tall is he?”
A single point against Stoke is not as good as we wanted, but it’s better than most of our trips there and with Wigan trouncing Newcastle it hasn’t done us much damage. Last season we lost 3:1. Newcastle are in a tight spot now with games against Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton to come.
Today Spurs play Blackburn and Chelsea play QPR. Both are at home and both should win. But the way this season is going who knows. This weekend could have a bit more to give yet.
Yesterday must have been ‘bring your child to work’ day at the BBC, as Match of the Day was rounded off by a ten-year-old doing an impression of Gary Lineker doing an impression of Arsene Wenger. Either that or Gary Lineker was just being a pathetic prat.
Stoke 1:1 Arsenal
Crouch, Van Persie
Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs
Song, Rosicky, Ramsey (Diaby)
Gervinho (Chamakh), Van Persie, Benayoun (Santos)