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4 Thoughts On Arsenal’s 1-0 Loss To Stoke

Arsenal slumped to a disappointing 1-0 loss to Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday afternoon, here, Gunner333 gives us 4 thoughts on the game.

Arsenal slumped to a disappointing 1-0 loss to Stoke on Saturday afternoon, here, Gunner333 gives us 4 thoughts on the game.

Laurent Koscielny

Following on from a solid victory earned at home to Sunderland last week, the Gunners were looking to grab three points in a fixture which has previously frustrated them. Stoke’s physicality would prove a tough ask for an Arsenal side who made one change, recalling Gibbs in place of Monreal.

The midfield area was congested early on, with neither side able to get settled. Stoke were clearly out to frustrate our passing game and it worked as we were looking lethargic in our attacking play, with sloppy passing the centre of our downfall.

The first hald chance fell to Cazorla, who curled an ambitious effort round the post, before Crouch brought the ball down in the Arsenal area and drilled one into the side netting. Overall though a poor half of football emulating  in few chances for either side.

The visitors attempts to hit the ground running in the second half was flustered when Crouch created the best chance of the match yet. Crouch, 33, looked the focal point of Stoke’s attacks and forced two great chances in a matter of minutes. His acrobatic spectacle firstly whistling past the post before the Englishman found himself unmarked from an Adam free-kick, but Arsenal were free to clear their lines when Crouch failed to make contact.

Stoke had a greater degree of possession in the first half and certainly looked the more likely to score. This pressure seemed to pay dividends for the hosts, as Arsenal failed to deal with Stoke’s probing attacks. Walters driving into the area, before flicking the ball up to connect with the raised arm of Koscielny. Referee Mike Jones seemed eager to point to the spot and did not pass this opportunity.

With penalties normally taken by the now-subbed Charlie Adam, Walters stepped up to bury the kick past Szczesny. Wenger exhibited a face of fury at his side’s performance which seemed a whole lot worse when Özil fluffed arguably their greatest chance as of yet, firing wide across goal.

In the game’s dying stages, salt was severely pressed into Arsenal wounds. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s divine pull-back fired over the bar by Sanogo from close range, signalling it really was not Arsenal’s day.

Full time and the Gunners title bid had been dealt a crushing blow. Games against Spurs, Bayern, Chelsea and City all still to come, making poor reading for an out-of-form North-London club.

Here I will now analyse 4 talking points from the game;

1) Slow Starting

With the opening few moments portrayed in lacklustre fashion, a poor showing looked imminent. Our passing lacked our usual creativity, with Rosicky and Wilshere looking like being bullied out of possession. The hosts’ pressing game caused some of the players to panic and fire a long ball forward with little intention.

Our wide players looked isolated and conveyed little effort to bring themselves into the game. Amid an aggressive atmosphere, a good start and early goal could change the tempo of the game. We simply have to find a way to come out the blocks quicker in future.

2) Full-Back Failures

Hughes set his side up to run at our defence through the middle. This called for Gbibs and, sometimes, Sagna to provide numbers in the centre. By doing so we left pools of space free on the flanks, allowing Stoke to whip an early ball in. Gibbs seldom occupied the wider area and gave space to Arnautovic and Walters.

Gibbs and Sagna didn’t get forward as much as normal either, and when they did get into attacking areas their final ball let them down time and time again.

3) Unlike Us

We failed to adapt our game to meet the challenge put in front of us by Stoke. We struggled to create anything of note, mainly due to some rather poor link-up play. When in possession, we resisted to play short balls and rushed into playing long balls, something they were desperate for us to do.

We also failed to take advantage of the few chances we did create. A prime example of this was when Cazorla found himself clear with Giroud and Podolski either side of him. Rather than performing the cliché Arsenal move and knocking it aside, he drove a half-decent strike right at Begovic. Stoke or no Stoke , we should play OUR football and not get bullied into attempts at the physical side of the game.

4) Positives?

A loss to Stoke conjures up very few good points but, believe of not, we were not completely useless. The odd spark of flair from sub Oxlade-Chamberlain caused some uplift in a match which should have suited his game, but he did not start. After being added to the team midway through the second half, our game was injected with a little more pace, the Englishman creating opportunities for both Özil and Sanogo. We also looked pretty solid at the back and Stoke didn’t really look like scoring until they were gifted the penalty.

Ahead of next week’s crucial cup clash with the Toffees, this was not the ideal result. If we hit the ground running against Everton and play to our full potential we should book our place in the last four and the FA Cup could be coming to the Emirates.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below!

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