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March 1, 2014
• Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Referee: M. Jones
• Attendance: 26711
J. Walters 76'
Well, that's all from the Britannia Stadium. Many thanks for joining us for what turned out to be a superb match. See you soon!
Arsenal are now four points behind Chelsea, who won at Fulham this afternoon. Can they turn things around and take the title? It's a tough ask but they still have to play both Manchester City and Chelsea.
That's a thoroughly deserved result for Hughes' men, who worked hard all afternoon and didn't give Arsenal any time on the ball.
FULL TIME!! Stoke have won!! It's a huge victory for the hosts, who just love playing Arsenal at home. Meanwhile, the Gunners' title push takes a huge dent as they fail in the Potteries once more.
90' + 5'
Yellow Card Peter Crouch
90' + 5'
Crouch goes into the book for a spot of time-wasting inside the Arsenal half. Just seconds left now...
90' + 4'
SANOGO!! WHAT. A. CHANCE. Oxlade-Chamberlain gets in behind and charges down the right-hand side. He pulls the ball back into the box for Sanogo, who has a clear sight of goal but fluffs his effort, sending it way over the bar.
90' + 3'
Stoke take their time over the free kick and they manage to work the ball towards the corner flag. The fans are whistling but there's still time left.
90' + 2'
Into the second of five added minutes and Szczesny launches it into the Stoke half, but Giroud is penalised for an infringement in the air. Time rapidly running out...
90' + 1'
Arteta spreads the ball wide to Sagna and Stoke push out. Ireland chases down Cazorla and the Gunners are forced further back. Excellent stuff from the hosts.
Arsenal still have the ball inside the Stoke half as we enter stoppage time. Can the Gunners find an equaliser late on here?
All the play is inside the Stoke half at the moment, but they're hacking it clear at every opportunity. A desperate long ball is fired back into the mix, but it's too hard and Begovic has a chance to waste a few more seconds.
Arnautovic is the man to be replaced. Can the visitors hold on for a fantastic victory? Just a few minutes left at the Britannia Stadium.
Stoke are readying another substitute, and it looks like Matthew Etherington will come on for the final stages here.
BLOCKED!! It's layed off for Ozil, who drills it low from a central position, but the Stoke wall charges it down superbly and the hosts get the ball away.
Here's a chance for the visitors. Giroud receives the ball off Sanogo and draws a foul from Cameron right on the edge of the penalty area. Several players will fancy a go from 19 yards...
OZIL!! Probably the best chance of the match for the Gunners, and it's only a half-chance as the substitute drills a shot across the area and just wide of Begovic's far post.
Nzonzi cuts out Arteta's pass brilliantly and sets Arnautovic away. The wide man does superbly to evade two challenges before looking for Crouch with a lofted pass, but Koscielny watches it well to win possession back.
Another roll of the dice from Wenger as he throws on Yaya Sanogo for Wilshere, hoping to give Giroud some support up front as they look for an equaliser.
Arteta tries to slide a neat pass through for Giroud, but it's not accurate enough and the ball rolls right through to Begovic. Seconds later Oxlade-Chamberlain produces a poor pass of his own. Passing training might be required, Arsene...
"1-0 to the bogey team" chant the Stoke fans. They know Arsenal don't like coming here, and it's looking like a very good afternoon for the hosts so far.
Yellow Card Marc Wilson
Wilson takes out Wilshere in midfield, but the referee waves play on. Arsenal's attack eventually breaks down and the official goes back to put the Stoke man in the book.
This is a real test of Arsenal's title credentials now. They really need something from this game, but have not been playing well enough to deserve much.
Penalty Goal Jonathan Walters
WALTERS PUTS STOKE IN FRONT!! With regular penalty taker Adam just going off, Walters steps up and sends Szczesny the wrong way, pushing the ball into the right-hand corner to give Stoke the lead.
PENALTY TO STOKE!! Koscielny goes to challenge Walters, who flicks it up and the ball hits the defender's arm. The referee points straight to the spot, but it looks like a pretty harsh call.
We've entered the fray of substitutions now, and Wenger has decided to change things as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is preparing to replace Rosicky.
Stephen Ireland is on for Stoke, replacing Adam in midfield. The Scot has been everywhere this afternoon and looks shattered as he trudges off the field.
Sagna advances down the right-hand side and invites the challenge from Pieters, who wins the ball and clears. The Arsenal defender is claiming a foul but the referee isn't interested.
Adam works hard to charge in and steal the ball in midfield, and he spots Szczesny out of his goal so tries a spectacular effort from the halfway line. It's off target, though, and goes behind for a goal kick to the visitors.
That's a waste from Cameron, who initially does really well to find space on the right and exchange passes with Nzonzi, but his low cross is easily dealt with by Koscielny.
Arsenal try to increase the pressure as Sagna's cross is blocked, but Stoke's brilliant pressing quickly forces them back. Hughes' men are working extremely hard this afternoon.
Giroud is unhappy as he slips in midfield and Adam comes in late, catching the striker with his studs as he lands on the ground. Slightly naughty from the Scot, but he gets away with it and play resumes.
The flag goes up as Crouch strays just beyond the last defender, and we all have a chance to take a breather. It's a completely different match!
CAMERON!! Chaos ensues from the resulting corner as Crouch challenges but the ball bounces around, before Cameron charges in to snap a shot away, firing it wide of the post to the relief of the Arsenal defence.
CROUCH!! Another good chance for the striker as Arnautovic swings in an early inswinging cross from the left, and Crouch wins the header, flicking it towards goal and forcing a fingertip save from Szczesny.
A Stoke attack breaks down and the visitors produce another strong counter. Today's pantomime villain Giroud receives the ball on the left-hand side of the box, pushing towards the line before firing in a cross, but Begovic is there again to catch comfortably.
Chance for Arsenal as Gibbs floats a ball towards the far post, and Giroud goes up for it only to foul Wilson in the process. The striker isn't happy with the decision and squares up to Pieters, who decides to get involved, but the referee quickly steps in and tells everyone to calm down.
Arsenal try to create something of their own, slowly moving into the Stoke half before Wilshere changes gear, playing the ball into Giroud before sprinting past the striker. His pass onwards, though, is poor and the hosts get the ball back.
It's been a frantic opening 15 minutes to this half, certainly compared to the first 45! Stoke, and their supporters, can feel the game is there to be won.
That's a loose touch inside his own half from Whelan, who is rapidly closed down by three Arsenal players, but he does well to recover and send the ball back to his goalkeeper.
Arteta fires a wonderful pass out to the left for Gibbs to chase, but the defender's first-time cross isn't good enough and Begovic is able to pluck it out of the air at the near post.
The Gunners have possession and are just slowing things down after that frantic opening to the half. They still look sloppy with the ball in midfield, though, and need to tighten things up to create any chances.
It's much more stretched since the break, and Arsenal finally have a chance to come forward themselves as Sagna picks it up on the right. The full-back squares it into Wilshere, who tries to cut on to his left foot but loses out to a robust challenge from Wilson.
It's all Stoke at the moment. The ball runs through to Szczesny but the visitors quickly give possession away. Wenger will be forced to make a change soon if things carry on.
This is a much more entertaining half so far! Arsenal look there for the taking and Crouch still can't believe he didn't put the hosts in front.
Yellow Card Tomas Rosicky
CROUCH AGAIN!! The striker has a wonderful chance again! Rosicky is booked for a poor challenge and Adam swings in a wonderful cross from the left. Crouch is completely unmarked but can't get a proper touch as he stretches out a long leg for the ball, and Arsenal somehow hack it away.
CROUCH!! The striker almost gives the hosts the lead with a spectacular effort! Koscielny doesn't read a cross properly and misses the ball, and Crouch has his back to goal but tries an acrobatic effort from 18 yards which whistles past the post.
Excellent work from Begovic, who claims Cazorla's corner with real authority. The Spaniard's set pieces haven't quite been up to scratch so far this afternoon.
This is good early pressure from Arsenal, who have Stoke penned in now. Sagna has some space on the right and swings in a cross looking for Giroud, forcing Shawcross to head behind for a corner.
Podolski looks to cause trouble at the other end as he cuts in from the left-hand side and charges towards the box, but Walters watches him closely before scrambling the ball out for a throw.
CROUCH!! Best chance of the match so far! There's more space on the right-hand side and Cameron swings it into the danger area. Crouch challenges for the ball with Szczesny and the goalkeeper doesn't get a convincing touch on it, but Koscielny is there to mop up and fire the ball clear.
NZONZI!! Good early chance for the hosts as Cameron floats a cross into the box. Crouch does well to win the header and flick it on towards Nzonzi, whose own header is slightly too weak to trouble Szczesny very much.
The hosts get the ball rolling as the second half gets underway at the Britannia Stadium.
The players are back out and we'll be resuming the action in Stoke very shortly.
Be sure to stick with us as the second half gets underway in just over five minutes. Can Arsenal impose themselves on this match? Will we see Mesut Ozil at some point? Or are Stoke going to continue their good home form against the Gunners?
Wenger needs to see more from his midfield maestros in the second half. Rosicky and Cazorla have looked bright but also sloppy on the ball. Giroud, meanwhile, is making a nuisance of himself in the Stoke defence, but is also looking pretty lonely.
Hughes' men have pressed well, giving Arsenal very little time on the ball, and it's forced several mistakes in possession from the visitors. They haven't been able to do too much going forward, though, with Crouch looking pretty isolated up front.
That's HALF TIME at the Britannia Stadium and we go in goalless at the break after a fairly low-key affair. Chances have been very rare and the hosts will be far happier than Arsenal with the way things have gone.
45' + 1'
Walters and Cameron try to link up on the right, but Gibbs does well to read the pass and hammers it out of play for a throw.
Arsenal can't make use of the free kick as Giroud runs out of space on the by-line, eventually running it out for a goal kick as the board goes up, indicating one minute of added time.
Yellow Card Erik Pieters
Pieters is in trouble with the referee after he whole-heartedly slides into a challenge with Giroud. It was a 50-50 bal but the defender got there second and clattered the Frenchman, earning himself a yellow card.
CAZORLA!! Chances at either end!! The Spanish midfielder receives the ball in space and charges towards the area before cutting on to his left foot. Podolski is outside him but the diminutive Arsenal man chooses to shoot himself, firing low into the body of Begovic, who saves comfortably.
WHELAN!! A goalkeeper is finally tested! Stoke move it around nicely and Arnautovic squares the ball into the run of Whelan, who rifles a low shot from 25 yards which Szczesny parries away.
Szczesny shanks a clearance and Nzonzi heads it straight back towards the Arsenal goal. Adam picks it up outside the box and tries to thread a ball through for Arnautovic, but Sagna does really well to get back and cut out the pass.
Crouch does well to knock the ball down for Cameron on the right-hand side, but the full-back tries a first-time ball into the box which he gets all wrong, putting it behind for a goal kick.
Most of the play is inside the Stoke half now, with Arsenal finally enjoying more possession. Giroud receives the ball with his back to goal and slides a lovely pass beyond the defence for Wilshere, but there's just too much on it and Begovic is out quickly to collect.
Cazorla looks for Gibbs with a long pass across the field, but Walters heads clear before challenging Cazorla for the second ball and winning a throw for the hosts inside their own half.
Sagna looks for Giroud with a threaded ball forward, Wilson cuts it out before the striker takes out Whelan and concedes a free kick, although the Frenchman looked to have come off much worse.
Giroud is unhappy as he goes down in midfield but nothing is given. Possession changes several times in succession in the middle of the park, which pretty much sums up the quality of this game so far.
Arteta is unhappy with Adam after the midfielder produces a painful-looking challenge on the Spaniard. Arteta's back on his feet, though, and we're back underway.
This is better from Arsenal, who move it around nicely before Podolski swings it in from the left, but Shawcross gets the ball away with a fine header.
CROUCH!! Walters and Nzonzi double up on the right-hand side, and the latter's deflected cross loops high into the area. Crouch does well to bring it down and turn on the corner of the six-yard box, before drilling a shot into the side-netting.
It's been a reasonably tense opening half an hour at the Britannia Stadium. Neither side is committing too much so far, as Giroud sees a tame header caught by Begovic. The Gunners have looked slow in possession but Stoke are doing well to make it difficult for the man on the ball.
Arnautovic swings a lovely ball across the field and behind the defence for Walters to chase, but just as he gets on the end of it the whistle goes as the flag is up for offside.
Sagna plays a nice one-two with Cazorla down the right flank, but Pieters is staying tight to any runs along that side and he manages to get a touch to put the ball out for a throw.
Arteta is penalised for a foul on Adam right on the halfway line, and Shawcross charges towards the box to make himself a target, but Whelan takes it short and the hosts keep the ball well.
Sensible play from the Gunners, who keep the ball at the back in an attempt to stop Stoke's momentum. Gibbs then plays it forward but the ball is cut out and the hosts win it back.
Stoke are really on top at the moment, and Adam nearly creates a chance to shoot as he cuts in from the left before Wilshere produces a fine tackle to stop him in his tracks. The visitors are struggling, though.
Nzonzi receives the ball deep inside the Arsenal half and presses towards the corner flag, eventually drawing a challenge from Arteta who puts it behind. Adam sends the ball out towards Whelan, but Rosicky is out quickly to block his effort.
The hosts win a throw on the right, deep inside the Arsenal half, but Cameron decides not to fire in a long throw, going back to Adam instead. The Scot doesn't have many options so tries a speculative volley from 35 yards which tamely rolls into Szczesny's arms.
Cazorla sets Gibbs free down the left, and the full-back fires in a cross towards Giroud, who flicks a header but can't find the target as it stays in play, allowing Stoke to come forward themselves.
Adam whips in the corner and Wilson is completely free at the far post, but his header back across is hacked clear by the combination of Sagna and Koscielny.
Arsenal's loose passing lets them down again as Gibbs flicks the ball out towards Cazorla, but it rolls out for a throw to the hosts. Walters charges down the right flank and tries a cross which deflects off Gibbs for a corner.
You just get the sense Arsenal are growing into the game now. A lot more of the play is inside the Stoke half.
CAZORLA!! Rosicky's deflected effort forces a corner, and Cazorla's ball is poor again as it's cleared by Adam. The Spaniard gets it back, though, and charges back towards the area before bending a right-footed effort around the far post.
Rosicky produces a loose touch to put it out for a throw on halfway, before Crouch and Walters link up well on the right-hand side, but the latter produces a poor touch of his own and Arsenal have the ball back in the form of a throw.
That's the first real opening we've seen so far, and Arsenal were let off there as Walters looked level. Wenger's men are not looking comfortable so far this afternoon.
WALTERS!! The hosts clear the corner and sweep forward with a beautiful move. It slows down but Arnautovic revives the attack with a superb early cross, which Walters flicks just past the far post with a glancing header. The flag is up, though, as the Ireland international was just offside.
Adam's in trouble by his own corner flag with Giroud sticking tight to him, and the midfielder eventually produces a loose touch to knock the ball behind for a corner. Cazorla's ball in is headed away at the near post, but they'll have another go...
It's the Gunners' turn to enjoy a spell of possession now, but Sagna loses out as he chases Cazorla's ball down the wing, with Pieters forcing a throw off the Arsenal full-back.
Arsenal have the ball inside the Stoke half and move it around well, but it's all in front of the hosts, who press high and eventually force a mistake as Arteta's pass is cut out by Nzonzi.
Arnautovic takes out Wilshere in midfield and the referee blows for a free kick just inside the Arsenal half. It's all a bit stop-start so far, but the game is definitely threatening to burst into life any moment.
It's been a fairly quiet opening 10 minutes, with everything going on in the middle of the park. Arsenal haven't really found their rhythm yet, and Stoke are enjoying much more possession so far.
Sagna does well to chase what looks like a lost cause near the corner, but his first-time cross is easily cut out by Pieters, who comes away with the ball for Stoke.
Adam launches a hopeful ball over the top of the Arsenal defence, but Crouch doesn't have the pace to get on the end of it and the visitors get the ball back.
Crouch is caught offside as Arsenal play a high line perfectly. The visitors come forward quickly, but Pieters does well to snuff out Sagna's pass towards Cazorla on the flank.
It's very loud inside the Britannia Stadium this afternoon - the Stoke fans are well up for this one. Meanwhile, Whelan is nearly caught out as he takes his time over a clearance, and Rosicky nips in to get a touch on the ball but can only put it behind for a goal kick.
Adam drives towards the left-hand side and draws a foul from Wilshere, who clips the Scot's heels. The midfielder fires the free kick low into the area but it goes straight through to Szczesny in the Arsenal goal.
Stoke have a free kick inside their own half as Nzonzi is clipped by Rosicky. The hosts are seeing plenty of the ball early on, here.
The hosts win a throw by the corner flag and Whelan fires it into the area. Walters manages to flick it on but Mertesacker is there to tidy up and hack the ball clear.
It's very tight in midfield early on as Crouch loses out to Wilshere inside the centre circle. Some quick passing from the Gunners sees them move forward, but Giroud can't get on the end of a pass and it runs through to the Stoke defence.
We're underway at Stoke as the visitors get the game started.
The players are out, handshakes have been made, and we're ready to go very shortly.
Under five minutes to go until kick-off at the Britannia Stadium, which is bathed in sunshine this afternoon. Can the Potters start March in style, or will the Gunners continue their march towards the title?
Most of you will undoubtedly have seen the photo doing the rounds of Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podoslki in rugby gear saying they're "ready for Stoke". Well, did you know the Potters have had 21 red cards since coming up in 2008? Even more interestingly, Arsenal have had 22 in the same period. Who's physical now, Arsene?
Hughes' side, meanwhile, have only won once in their last 10 league matches, with their solitary victory coming over Manchester United at the beginning of February. They've also gone 14 games in all competitions without keeping a clean sheet, so the Gunners will definitely fancy themselves to score today.
This is something of a bogey ground for Arsenal. They've only won here once in their last seven visits to Stoke in all competitions, but Arsenal's away record this season is superb with 26 points from 13 games.
Arsene Wenger has again left Mesut Ozil on the bench this afternoon, just as he did against Sunderland, and there's only one change from that 4-1 victory as Kieran Gibbs comes in for Nacho Monreal at full-back.
Striker Peter Odemwingie doesn't make Mark Hughes' squad this afternoon, then, as his calf problem has ruled him out. Jon Walters has recovered from illness to start, though, while John Guidetti is back on the bench after being ineligible to play against Manchester City.
Arsenal subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Flamini, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gnabry, Sanogo.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere; Cazorla, Rosicky, Podolski; Giroud.
Stoke City subs: Sorensen, Muniesa, Palacios, Guidetti, Etherington, Wilkinson, Ireland.
Stoke City (4-5-1): Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Walters, Nzonzi, Whelan, Adam, Arnautovic; Crouch.
The line-ups have been announced so let's get straight down to business and bring you today's teams, starting with the Potters...
Hello and welcome to LIVE coverage of the Premier League as Stoke City host Arsenal at the Britannia Stadium. The Gunners hammered Sunderland 4-1 last weekend - can they keep the pressure on leaders Chelsea with another victory today?
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