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April 28, 2012
• Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Referee: C. Foy
• Attendance: 27502
That's all from me everybody. Thanks for joining me - head on over to our main page for all the upcoming reaction. Cheers!
That's it. 1-1 here at the Britania. Probably a fair result in a game that really died after the opening two goals. Diaby is limping off the pitch by the way. That's fairly normal right?
90' + 4'
That is that. Full-time.
90' + 3'
Stoke clear an Arsenal corner and although Whitehead runs down a cul-de-sac he takes the opportunity to have a little dive and Wenger is apoplectic on the touchline. The Stoke fans are taking great humour in the Arsenal manager's histrionics.
90' + 1'
Delap long throw into the box is just, JUST, dealt with by Szczesny who paws it off the head of Crouch. The follow-up falls to Walters but his deft flick to the back post just evades Crouch again. Two massive chances! 4 minutes added on here.
Touched and smashed wide by Vermaelen. Arsenal have been short of ideas most of this half to be honest and that could well be one of their last chances.
Edge of the box free-kick to Arsenal...
The free-kick eventually falls to Sagna outside the box but his volley is not the best. It's on target but not hit well enough to trouble Szczesny.
It almost broke for Santos there as Chamakh showed some neat play in the build up. He's made a decent impression so far and just won a free kick out wide.
CHANCE! Well I never, Cameron Jerome caught that one. He found room in the box to get away from Koscielny and although he was moving away from goal he's hit it well on the turn. Szczesny beats it away to safety. Yossi off, Andre Santos on.
Diaby penalised for a high foot. You can't do that in Stoke you know. The long ball to the back post is met by Shawcross and headed back across the box but Szczesny claims it on his line. Look what I've just written. That's football apparently. Hoof. Head. Retry. Sigh...
Chamakh has arrived! Gervinho is off and he's been pretty abject today. Can Arsenal find that second goal? It certainly doesn't look to be coming from the home side.
Penalty!? No! Denied by Chris Foy. As Benayoun runs deep and into the box Whelan looks to trip him but Foy deems it a safe challenge. Stoke escape but Arsenal have a corner now.
And they almost find the 2nd. Ramsey's effort is just wide and you can sense his frustration. How he'd love a goal on this ground! Redemption and all that. Although it wouldn't really be redemption in the truest sense of the word. More happiness. Anyway, Diaby is on for Ramsey, so there goes that little thought...
Great blocking! Stoke get bodies in the way for Van Persie's free-kick and then Vermaelen's follow-up. Determined stuff. Still, Arsenal are pressing here.
Again, I've no idea what Vermaelen is doing on the edge of the Stoke box but his tricky feet draw a foul from Whelan. It's Van Persie territory...
...well the corner came to nothing but the resulting high ball into the box is caught by Szczesny right on the edge of his area. Unfortunately Koscielny jumps with his keeper and takes an elbow on the nose. Ouch.
Yellow Card Alex Song
Stoke free-kick is half-cleared to the edge where Whitehead is waiting to smash one at goal. It deflects just over for a corner....
Nice run from Ramsey before he slides a ball left to Gibbs. The left-back hit the ball with purpose but it was well blocked and allowed Stoke to counter quickly. The game is beginning to open up now.
Yellow Card Yossi Benayoun
Yellow card for Yossi as the Israeli commits a pretty cynical atmosphere on the halfway line.
Arsenal defence switched off a little as Stoke took their throw-in. There's no Delap or Shotton now to hurl them in and so a short one to Pennant caught them on their heels. Still, the cross was poor and cleared. Crouch took a blow to the head a few moments ago by the way but he looks okay now.
Nice combo by Gervinho and Benayoun on the right of the box and as the Ivorian weaves into the box it gives Shawcross an opportunity to slam a tackle into the winger. Good challenge but aggressive. "You know what you are" bellows from the traveling support.
Not entirely sure what Vermaelen's doing in the left-wing position but he's collected a ball on the corner of the box and cut back inside before firing well over the Stoke goal. Matt Upson is on for Shotton. He'll go centre-back and Huth heads to right-back.
....oh dear. Shotton has a way to go to match Delap's standards as he chucks the ball clean out of play for a goal kick.
Oooh Gibbs puts Szczeny in a spot of bother with a short back-pass. The Arsenal keeper reacts well to clear but he gives Stoke a long throw opportunity...
CHANCE! A good one as Arsenal work the ball well on the edge of the Stoke box. Rosicky shifts the ball out right to Sagna who flips an inviting cross in towards Van Persie. The Dutchman beats his marker to head across goal and at the back post but Begovic reads it and catches safely.
Good work from Szczesny as he first of all punches Etherington's cross over his head before resetting and punching Pennant's cross away as well. Arsenal don't look particularly troubled by these aerial balls. Aside from the goal that is...
Lively opening. Pennant goes on a weaving run down the right but saw his good cross scrambled away. At the other end Van Persie's excellent first touch sets him for a trademark left-footer which is just about blocked. Gervinho's follow up shot is so bad I fear for the Potters fans in the top tier.
Right then, Arsenal get us underway for the second half at the Britania...
Stoke have scored a pathetic 33 goals in the Premier League this year. I'm told that's the lowest in the whole division. They also average just over 2 shots on target a game. They've had 1 so far, so they're right on track. Personally I sense a good second half from Wenger's side. As it stands, I'm going 3-1 to the visitors.
Half-time at the Britania. After the initial promise, both teams have settled and look a lot more cautious in possession. It's not been a classic just yet but give the team-talks a chance to fire up both sides. I want action!
Begovic launches a goal-kick long and although Stoke have finished the half well, they've only mustered 1 shot. And that's half-time.
Stoke force a corner after a who's who of massive header-people go forward for a free-kick. The corner is just about cleared but Szczesny didn't look comfortable amidst the sea of players around him.
Sliver of a chance for the visitors as Rosicky breaks down the left. His attempted early cross with the outside of his right foot (does he have a left?) is high and collected by Begovic.
I've just seen a terrible free-kick from out wide. Pennant tries to cross it in but appears to kick the ground before the ball. It bobbles to the first man in front of him and Arsenal have the ball again. Poor
Ball through to Walters sees Szczesny rush out to collect on the edge of the box. Walters isn't too pleased though because as he chased it Vermaelen ran across him, forcing the Irishman to run clean into Szczesny's shoulder. Ouch.
First long throw-in from deputy slingshot Ryan Shotton. It's nicely flicked on but is hooked clear by a relieved Arsenal.
As I say that he's made a complete hash of a good chance for Arsenal. After much pressing and an turnover in possession it looked as though they had Stoke outnumbered. As Rosicky collected the ball on the left of the box, his angled ball with the outside of his boot was woefully off-target and hooked clear. Bit of a waste.
Rosicky's continuing his good form in an Arsenal shirt. He's been the standout player for the Gunners so far.
The game's just quietened a touch after the early flurry of goals. We've just been alerted that Arsenal are only three points behind the total from last year. Not too shabby given the sales of Fabregas, Clichy and Nasri. Oh and Eboue....
Hmmm. Well replays show Gervinho could have done better. A diving header would have sufficed and in fact if he'd just been a bit braver he could have scored there. One half-chance for Arsenal but Koscielny heads Van Persie's free-kick just over.
CHANCE!!! But somehow Gervinho missed his header just six yards out. It looked as if he caught a glance of Begovic and pulled away from heading the ball. Yet to see a replay but it looked as if that was the case. It should be 2-1 to Arsenal.
'He scores when he wants' etc etc. Well that's Van Persie's sixth goal in four games against Stoke. I guess he does when he meets the Potters.
Assist Tomas Rosicky
Goal Robin van Persie
GOAL!!! Robin Van Persie slides in at the back post to tap home. Great movement to elude his markers and knock Rosicky's superb cross past Begovic. Game on!
Ramsey latches onto a loose ball on the edge of the box and thumps one just wide of Begovic's right-hand post. Close for Arsenal - decent effort from Rambo.
'Delilah' is booming from the stands, this really is an excellent atmosphere!
Assist Matthew Etherington
Goal Peter Crouch
GOAL!!! Peter Crouch climbs at the back post and heads past the statuesque Szczesny! It was a great ball in from Etherington and the big man climbed between Vermaelen and Gibbs to head into the bottom corner.
SAVE!! Begovic makes a neat stop to his left as Van Persie pulls off his marker to head at goal from the far post. The resulting corner comes to nothing but Arsenal have awoken.
First CHANCE for Arsenal as Van Persie receives the ball on the edge of the box with his back to goal. He turns it round the corner for Benayoun who has run from deep. Although the Israeli gets his shot off, it's too weak to beat Begovic who saves low to his left.
Half-chance for Crouch as he heads wide. It's not settled down just yet but the hosts have looked lively.
Yellow Card Dean Whitehead
So Ramsey's taken an elbow to the throat and Whitehead's just scythed down Song to pick up the game's first yellow card. This has started how I presume Stoke want it to go on...
Decent start from Stoke - Whitehead nicks possession on the right and swings a good cross to the backpost for Crouch. His nod-don is smuggled away to safety though. Big game for Crouch - he's making a case for a spot at the Euros.
Stoke get us started at the Britania and the rugby anthem swing-lo sweet chariot is underway!
Not long to go! Ramsey and Van Persie have just been booed by the home support. That's a touch harsh isn't it? This could be feisty...
Tell you what - STAT ATTACK time. Arsenal have won four of the last five league meetings between the two but...BUT...Stoke have won three of the last four at the Britannia! It's as if stats are meaningless!
Some snap reflection - Stoke look positive in a 4-4-2. We know how much Tony Pulis despises Wenger, so although this is a late-season game and effectively meaningless for the hosts, it isn't really. They'll be bang up for this one! As for the Gooners it's the first eleven you'd expect away from home. Without Arteta, the onus drops into Ramsey's lap once more. Can he cope? Remember this is the ground he had his leg broken a couple of years ago by Mr Shawcross. No repeat of that please. ALSO - I'm hoping I won't need to repeat the spelling of Szczesny too much today. A live-commers nightmare!
And those ball-playing waltzers, Arsenal: (4-5-1) Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Gervinho, Ramsey, Song, Rosicky, Benayoun; Van Persie. Subs: Fabianski, Santos, Squillaci, Diabi, Chamberlain, Coquelin, Chamakh
First up, those lovable rugby boys, Stoke City: (4-4-2) Begovic; Shotton, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson; Pennant, Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington; Walters, Crouch. Subs: Sorensen, Upson, Delap, Palacios, Jones, Fuller, Jerome.
Good afternoon loyal people! I'm Jay Jaffa and I'll be coaxing you through Stoke v Arsenal at the Britania Stadium. Team news coming right up!
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