Stoke 3-2 Arsenal: Disappointing Loss Analysed From Back-To-Front

By on December 7, 2014

Arsenal slumped to a disappointing 3-2 defeat away at Stoke City on Saturday afternoon. Here, Gunner333 gives us his analysis of the performance from back-to-front.

Arsene Wenger’s side looked to continue their winning streak away to a Stoke City side that were at the opposite end of the form table, winless in their last four.

Laurent Koscielny’s return to the sidelines after just two games in defence would be concerning for the visitors and his absence was evident just 19 seconds in, when Steven N’Zonzi sent a ball into the box, which Crouch bundled in to convert the league’s quickest goal of the season.

Olivier Giroud then missed a glorious chance to level things up when he headed wide from close rang and his miss was punished shortly after as Stoke doubled their lead when Bojan tucked away Jonathon Walter’s cross for 2-0.

The Potters were making the most of the electrifying atmosphere and were eager to put the Gunners to bed and seemed to do so, moments before the break. Walters again at the fore-front of the action, firing in the 100th club goal of his career from Crouch’s knock-down to a Bojan corner.

Disapproval from the travelling Arsenal fans made clear at the break and Wenger responded by introducing Danny Welbeck for Hector Bellerin with Flamini moving to right-back.

Arsenal were certainly much-improved after the break and pulled one back when Santi Cazorla converted a penalty before Aaron Ramsey gave us real hope with a fierce volley for 3-2 with over 20 minutes remaining.

Our push for a late equaliser was dented when Calum Chambers received a second yellow for a pull on Bojan twelve minutes from time, and Stoke held on to inflict another painful defeat on the Gunners.

The North-London club yet again under-fire as I shall now analyse this disappointing defeat from back-to-front.

At The Back: 3/10

It was clear Arsenal were not up to scratch less than a minute in, when Chambers showed an immediate lack of focus to allow Crouch’s opener and even worse it was one of two goals to come from a Potters aerial threat. Through the centre it was an absolute calamity and Mertesacker put in an abhorrent shift without Koscielny by his side, whilst Chambers was just constantly bullied by Stoke’s physical threat.

Even a score of 3/10 looks generous to this department after this game though, as we were slow, casual, sluggish and ultimately weak in dealing with a Stoke side we should know a lot about. Mentality played its part once again, as Arsenal failed to overcome the Brittania hurdle for another season, with Wenger’s decision to rest Koscielny back-firing horrendously.

Middle Men: 6/10

Just your typical midfield performance from modern-day Arsenal, who did the basics to a degree but did little to capture the imagination. One would expect this was a game suited to Flamini’s rough style of play, but the Frenchman was outplayed by his opposing man N’zonzi all day long and failed to deal with Stoke’s movement across the front.

Both Cazorla and Ramsey escaped heavy criticisms over their contributions with a goal a piece, but the midfield generally kept quiet and were outclassed by Stoke’s quick passing game in the first half. In the physical department it was a landslide win for Mark Hughes’ side, as the Arsenal midfield could not get to grips with their opponents.

Oxlade-Chamberlain exhibited stints of promise, with the odd winding run, but lacked the co-operation from the rest of his team-mates in the middle of the park, who all remained in the shadows for much of the match.

Up-Top: 5/10

It’s unfortunate to say this was not a week where a catalogue of opportunities presented itself to the Arsenal attacking line, but we wasted most of the chances we did create.

Olivier Giroud’s strength and presence in forward areas was the reason he got selected ahead of Welbeck, but at least the former-United man actually looked like he wanted to be there. Giroud was already on his festive break it seemed, too dazed to poke home a sitter and far too slow in getting forward with the rest if the team when breaking.

Sanchez got into some good positions but no other Arsenal player was alert enough to link with the Chilean and he was left as dead weight in an attacking line frequently trumped by Stoke’s power in defending.

The North-London club did emerge as a threat briefly in the latter stages, but Chambers sending off took the sting out of Arsenal’s tail and it was too little too late as we were made to pay for our disastrous first half.

Wenger: 5/10

As a manager you are pretty powerless when your side, and defence especially, unravel a series of defensive blunders to put you behind and I do feel relatively sympathetic for Wenger at the moment, who set the side up as best he could given the current state of the squad which is beset by injuries.

On saying that, he made changes to the front department too late and I feel he made a mistake in resting Koscielny for this difficult away game, while it was certainly a risky call starting Bellerin at right-back.

His substitutions do not make it any easier for him as both Welbeck and Podolski lacked any innovation and the pressure mounts on the man in the dugout, as a long string of fixtures awaits over the Christmas period.

I could pour out excuses for the long-time Gunners boss all-night long, but ultimately his building of a physically unable side means games like this will always remain the toughest of tests and unless serious disciple is implemented into this frail back four, mishaps will happen week-in, week-out.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below.

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2 Comments

  1. paul35mm

    December 7, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    The back four were horrible, though the midfield were fine in my view. Stoke’s physical presence, as always, causes Arsenal and other finesse teams trouble. When you pair that with a referee who let Stoke run roughshod over Arsenal, the game was always going to be difficult.

    Look at some odd decisions by the referee. Alexis was abused all game long, constantly fouled and clattered. The choke hold was the ultimate insult. For a referee who didn’t award a free kick to a player hauled down by the neck to give two yellows to Calum Chambers for relatively minor transgressions is a massive officiating failure.

    I do wish the supporters would give the Wenger out garbage a rest it would really make reading about the games more enjoyable. The idea that I or anyone else writing about what happened versus Stoke wants to win or knows what it takes to win better than Arsene Wenger is so silly it defies description.

    Arsenal’s board is not going to fire Arsene Wenger. If they do, they’re idiots.Supporters have called for the firing of Allan Pardew, Sam Allardyce, and Gary Monk. If any of those managers were fired, West Ham would not be third, Newcastle would not be seventh, and Swansea would not be where they are either.

    Nigel Peason, the manager who brought Leicester up, Harry Redknapp, the manager who accepted the QPR job knowing he was probably going down, then brought his side up, and Sean Dyce, who brought Burnley up are all under pressure. Why? Burnley play in a stadium with 20,000 seats. That they ever even smell the Premier League is a major miracle. QPR was in free fall when Redknapp took over. The roster was full of over-priced prima-donnas signed for their past more than their futures. Pearson brought a club that hadn’t been in the PL in years up and after a dozen games against the best league in Europe, he deserves to be sacked? That’s nuts. Bonkers. Crazy.

    Tottenham has changed managers more frequently than the average football fan changes his underwear and still can’t break into the top four consistently. Perhaps the failure isn’t the manager, its the changing of managers.

    Arsenal are one of the most successful football clubs in the world, and supporters want to win trophies and the league and that’s great. As an Arsenal supporter, I want those things for the club too. However, the landscape of football has changed in the last 20 years. New money, not only in the premier League but all across Europe has made good players more expensive and more difficult to sign. Massive investment by rich owners in previously second-tier PL clubs means within the league there is more competition for talent and the coveted top four places.

    Right now there are seven or eight teams with legitimate top 4 ambitions. Chelsea, Man City, Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton, and one or both of Southampton and/or West Ham. Historically, there were four or five teams capable, realistically, of snatching a top four spot. And yet, for the last 18 years Arsenal have held one of those spots, they’ve reached the knockout stages of the Champions League 15 years in a row, and remain a place where top players want to play.

    Criticize the performance, criticize the manager, but enough with the Wenger out, please. It’s not happening and it’s a distraction for everyone who wants the club to do well.

  2. oldtimer

    December 8, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Paul35mm take a bow that is the best reply I have read for ages. You are 100% right mate. I was beginning to think I was the only Arsenal supporter left. I tips me lid.

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