STOKE CITY FC 3 ARSENAL 1
Pretty but ineffective,Arsenal passed the ball around,most of the time going nowhere.Plenty of possession but no real penetration.Then they got frustrated with their own inability to mount a real threat,which led to a remarkable statistic.Arsenal's foul count well exceeded that of our heroes.
The chants from the home crowd said it all,ramming Wenger's ill considered comments, made at earlier times, well down his throat.Now I have a feeling that deep down the Frenchman has a good sense of humour,so that when he has time to reflect he will have a chuckle to himself.Remember the comment about Stoke's game resembling rugby, well "2-0 to the rugby team"seemed a fair comment from the crowd,particularly when it was followed by a rendition of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot".
My favourite though, oft repeated each time Arsenal fouled, "Arsene Wenger....I didn't see that."
Stoke were in fine form,absorbed limited early pressure from the visitors and deservedly found the net twice before halftime: a chest in by Jones from Pennant's free kick,and a Pennant drive deflected up and over the keeper into the net.
Wenger altered the shape of his team after halftime,increasing his attacking options.Still very little impression was made on the Stoke team,despite Huth going off injured,and Kenwynne hobbling a little with an ankle problem.The only real scare was that Pennant, reacting to a bad tackle by Wilshere,got himself booked.Ref Halsey showed great commonsense,others would have dispatched the winger on a red.Pennant was subbed in his own best interest (and ours given the role people hope he will play next week at Wembley).
Late in the game a Van Persie goal dragged Arsenal back into contention......for a whole minute! Stoke went back up the pitch,Wilkinson contrived one of his trademark scuffed (but defence splitting) power shots.Jon Walters found himself with the ball,and just the keeper to beat.He made no mistake.
GAME OVER. 46 points in the bag. 8TH IN THE TABLE.
WEMBLEY HERE WE COME......