3rd Place, in our hands. (Stoke City vs Arsenal Match Report)
… Better late than never, but never late is better
That’s my apology for today’s late post.
I would not go into the details of how I had planned to publish this post at 6am in the morning, only for me to wake and find all the keys on my keyboard missing. I tried to type with the on-screen keyboard, then all the virtual keys on the on-screen keyboard started disappearing. Then I tried to dictate to the computer, then I couldn’t find my voice….
I would not go into the details of that, I would go into the details of the match at The Brittania.
The starting line-up was as predicted by @damijones in the Match Preview, save for the Left Back position where Gibbs started in Santos’ stead. I must say, the injury prone English lad has been quite impressive since he got back from his regular injuries.
Something like a rough start for us, but just for a few seconds or minutes. Then we found our rhythm. One player received a yellow for trying his best to shawcross Song
We kept the ball moving, nice early chance by Benayoun, One-Two with RVP, but his shot was not strong enough.
At this point, the shameful Stoke City fans were already booing Ramsey everytime he touched the ball. Its hard to understand why they felt they had to boo the lad.
Anyway, RVP forced a brilliant save after a nice Rosicky cross found him unmarked at the far post.
Then their goal came, Sagna misplaced a pass, then he didn’t mark their left winger well enough and he crossed for their tall striker who out-jumped TV5 to head the ball into the net, leaving Sczscz flat footed.
We responded almost instantly though. Good work from Benayoun, putting the new Delap under serious pressure ,winning the ball then he released Rosicky with a nice pass. The in-form Rosicky then floated a sweet sweet sweet ball for RVP to jab into the net. 1 -1 Arsenal, we were back in the game. RVP back with the goal(s)
We won a free kick at the edge of their 18. RVP took it, it didn’t clear the wall, it fell to Vermalaen who fired it into Shawcross. There were shouts for handball/penalty, but the referee wasn’t having any of it. Replays showed the ball hit the player’s hand, albeit just outside the box.
Later in the game, we had another shout for a penalty when it looked like Benayoun was brought down, but the referee again wasn’t having any of it.
The game frittered out, we didn’t have too many clear cut chance, we pressed in midfield but we didn’t break them down in the final 3rd.
Stoke had one of two chances of their own, one notable one late in the second half when Sagna cleared a dangerous ball in our box 8.
In the dying seconds, the same slight nudge the referee wasn’t having any of in the Stoke box when Benayoun went down was deemed a free kick when Koscielny slightly touched a Stoke player on the counter.
The call by the referee rightly incensed Wenger and as usual Baba started with his gesticulations, only for the Stoke city fans to show their class(lessness) by mimicking our professor. He had this to say, about the stoke fans;
They have a relationship with me but I don’t have one with them! They do [enjoy my visits] but I personally have enough experience to cope with that [criticism]. It doesn’t bother me too much. I don’t listen too much to what people chant and I just think one day people in football will have to tackle that as well. It is easy to sit in the stand and insult people – it is the easiest sport in the world.
I focus on what I love in my job and the way my players behave on the pitch. I am not responsible for the way people behave in the stands. If you want to stop that it is easy to stop but I cannot influence it. I have had so much [criticism] in England, I have been here for 15 years, and basically I don’t hear it because I am focused on the game.
Gervinho had one or two chances you’d expect him to bury, but the spirit of Chamakh had been invoked on him by Drogba, and his run of form since the nations cup has been very terrible. I’m sure he can’t wait for the season to end, neither can I.
Benayoun and Rosicky put in nice shifts in midfield. Too bad we won’t offer the Israeli an extension. he don old, and its too sad Rosicky’s career’s been plagued by injuries. Imagine if he’s been fit all this while we had him. *wistful sigh*
Diaby came on for about 15 minutes. but was caught limping towards the end of the game. talented player, I’m sure like RVP and Rosicky, he’s nearing the end of his injury days. He’d also be a lovely player for us when he finally conquers those injuries.
2 games to go against Norwich at home and West Brom away. If we win those two games, we are certain of 3rd place and a direct placement in the Champions League group stages, no matter what happens in Germany between Bayern and Chelsea and in England between Newcastle (who surprisingly and thankfully lost 4-0 yesterday) , Tottenham (who are shite) and Chelsea (who are supposedly the best team in the world now, after ‘destroying’ the erstwhile best team in the world, Barca, home and away -__-).
3rd place in firmly in our grip. All we have to do is beat two teams that should ordinarily not cause us any problems, but we know there’s nothing ordinary when Arsenal plays teams that should ordinarily not cause us problems. eh?
Lets see how it goes…