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Stoke City 3 - 2 Arsenal: Crash Report

Another wonderful day out at the Britannia.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

1 - 0 Peter Crouch 1'
2 - 0 Bojan Krkic 35'
3 - 0 Jonathan Walters 45'
3 - 1 Santi Cazorla PK 68'
3 - 2 Aaron Ramsey 70'
RC Calum Chambers 78'

Arsenal suffered through a horrendous first half before mounting a comeback attempt in the second today, but they couldn't quite overcome a number of factors before the final whistle, succumbing 3 - 2 to the beige ooze that is Stoke City FC. It didn't take long for the problems to begin, as Stoke found their opener within 35 seconds, a cross from the right falling in amongst three Arsenal defenders, all of whom somehow fell over along with goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, allowing anatomical skeleton model Peter Crouch to prod home the opener. It was a pretty fitting start to what would be probably the worst half of football Arsenal have played this year.

The Gunners more or less bobbed along through the first half. Olivier Giroud missed a sitter, heading wide from four yards. Arsenal were not really helped by referee Anthony Taylor, whom one might recall from such films as Opening Day Loss to Villa Last Year and its sequel Hasn't Reffed an Arsenal Match Since Then Because He Earned an F-. Taylor missed a number of easy yellow cards that Peter Crouch should have earned as well as just generally not calling things correctly, but really, he was the least of Arsenal's issues. Stoke were able to find their second goal rather easily after Kieran Gibbs failed to prevent another cross from the left and Bojan Krkic strode through completely unmarked by anyone at all to finish past Martinez. Per Mertesacker, Calum Chambers, and Mathieu Flamini--any one of whom could have probably at least made it difficult--more or less watched it happen.

Arsenal continued to struggle and, just before halftime, conceded again, this time from a free kick, as Crouch headed the ball down towards Prize-Winning Elbow Licker Jonathan Walters, who smashed it home into the roof of the net before everyone forgot who he was (seriously, I had to look it up to remember who scored, because...wait...what was I talking about again? Arsenal? Someone scored a third for Stoke? Who? ...Who? Wait, him? Egg?)

Arsene Wenger brought on Danny Welbeck in place of Hector Bellerin to start the second half, and Arsenal did look a little better. Stoke thought they had made it 4-0 with another Bojan effort, as the Spaniard ghosted past Flamini and Chambers to smash home at the near post, but the linesman flagged Mame Biram Diouf offside, as he was impeding Martinez. While the Britannia tried to use words to tell Taylor that he was perhaps wrong about that, Flamini up and won a fairly soft penalty at the other end, wouldn't you know, and Santi Cazorla scored the PK. While the Stoke fans raged, Arsenal continued to work, and two minutes later, Aaron Ramsey smashed home a fairly tricky volley, and the score had gone from 4-0 to 3-2 somehow in three minutes.

But then things unraveled again. Chambers earned a second yellow basically for nothing at all and was sent off. Wenger threw on Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell, neither of whom made any impact at all, and Stoke more or less shepherded the game out, Robert Huth replacing Bojan to close things up.

Arsenal just had too many players not with it today; it was Alexis' worst game for his new team so far, probably because he's absolutely destroyed fatigue-wise right now, and Gibbs had a rough one as well. Mertesacker isn't really much of an LCB without Koscielny, and Chambers has some work to do yet. Arsenal's best player was probably Ramsey or Cazorla, both of whom earned about a 6/10, which tells most of the story.

Arsenal will simply have to destroy Stoke at the Emirates. That's all there is to it.