Arsenal would see another defensive team line up across from them today after last week's Sunderland game, and the result would be the same as they battled a feckless Stoke City to a scoreless draw. Arsenal had 17 shots, but only 2 on target, and neither found the net. Follow us after the jump for how everything happened.
Stoke would have the first chance of the match, Carl Jenkinson letting a cross come in from the left which Peter Crouch knocked down for an offside Jonathan Walters to poke home. For their own part, Arsenal were struggling to maintain possession under strong Stoke pressing. Lukas Podolski had an effort blocked by Andy Wilkinson's hand (possibly hand ball). (Actually, definitely hand ball). 16 minutes in, Podolski made a very good run driving towards goal, and Robert Huth was forced to take him down 20 yards from goal, getting a yellow card for his trouble. Santi Cazorla tried to squeeze his free kick under the wall, but couldn't.
21 minutes in, Arsenal generated another good chance up the left, but Kieran Gibbs' cross was too tall for Giroud. Stoke countered quickly through Crouch and Pennant and Walters, but Gibbs raced back to slide in on Pennant before the cross could come through.
The game was becoming a bit stand-offish, both sides feeling each other out a bit. Arsenal were, in a sense, staying a bit deeper than we've become accustomed to, especially Jenkinson, and Stoke were doing a fair job of following Cazorla, Arteta, and Diaby when they tried to come deep to pick up the ball from defense. Stoke countered quickly on 29 minutes, a Michael Kightly shot from 20 yards saved well by Vito Mannone. Cazorla had a pop from distance on 34 minutes that Asmir Begovic saved well. Stoke won a free kick three minutes later, which Jermaine Pennant swung in, but Olivier Giroud was able to dive in and head it away. Arsenal were doing well in the middle third, but they were struggling to put something together in the final third, both Gervinho and Giroud losing out on dribbles in from the flanks.
No changes came at the half from either team.
Lee Mason pulled back a quick free took because Stoke screwed it up. That is all.
The game sort of puttered along for a while. Andy Wilkinson crushed Thomas Vermaelen on 63 minutes, earning a yellow card, but Mikel Arteta smahsed the free kick into the wall. Cameron Jerome replaced Jermaine Pennant.
Arsene Wenger had seen enough of non-tempo football by 72 minutes, and tried to freshen things up a bit by bringing on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott for Gervinho. Arteta promptly missed by about ten yards. Three minutes later, Diaby couldn't get his chance to settle and shot wide with all of Stoke standing around watching.
79 minutes on, the game was opening up, but Ryan Shotton was on for Peter Crouch. 81 minutes on, Wilson Palacios came on for Glenn Whelan, just after Giroud was kicked in the face. Aaron Ramsey came on for Santi Cazorla.
Stoke fans booed Aaron Ramsey, because they are irredeemable.
Arsenal continued to try to fashion any kind of opening. Aaron Ramsey shot wide on 87 minutes after Walters had poked weakly at Mannone a minute earlier. Giroud tried a ballsy effort from 35 yards and the left, but his shot went just over the bar.
Stoppage time arrived, and Arsenal were still trying to find a way through. They wouldn't, Chamberlain's cross too far at the end.
0-0. Again. 2 points from 6.
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