Saturday, April 28, 2012

Not a bad result nor good, but this shows Arsenal's weakness

Arsenal is hold 1-1 in Brittania Stadium in a match against Stoke City. The host took lead after Peter Crouch headed home. Arsenal replied few minutes after that, with Robin van Persie equalized, tapping Tomas Rosicky's crossing. It was not the best result Arsenal could get, as they dropped two points. However, Brittania Stadium is never easy for Wenger's boy to win, just winning once since Stoke City promoted to the Premier League. Arsenal always struggled to cope with physical game of Stoke City.

How was the game?

However, today, it was Arsenal who had most possession. Arsenal started brightly, with Benayoun nearly opened the score, but his shot just too weak. However, it was the home side who opened the score by Peter Crouch. Nice crossing from the left wing found Peter Crouch, and he did perfect job to net the ball, leaving Wojciech Szczesny rooted on the spot. Robin van Persie scored his 28th goal of the Premier League this season, after a nice determination shown by Yossi Benayoun on the left wing, winning back the ball, and passed it to Tomas Rosicky. "The Little Mozard" sent a wonderful floating ball to the captain, and van Persie made no mistake to make it 1-1. Arsenal had some chances in front of goal, particularly Gervinho's missed header, and two wonderful header from the van Persie. But Asmir Begovic produced superb save to deny Robin van Persie. Gervinho had two chances, but none of them finding the net. Koscielny headed once from Robin van Persie but it was also over the bar.

On the second half, Arsenal dominate most of the game, but failed to create clear chances in the final third. Vermaelen and Ramsey shot wide from the target, while van Persie and Vermaelen also blocked by Stoke's resilient defence. Arsenal had some shouts of penalty but all of them ignored by the referee. One from Shawcross' brave challenge on Benayoun, one from Benayoun again distracted from behind, and handball by Stoke player on Vermalen's fierce shot. However, it was Stoke even went close on scoring goal. Cameron Jerome tried his luck from the narrow angle to test Szczesny, but the keeper made a great reflect. Sagna need to clear the ball on Rory Delap's dangerous throw in, before Jonathan Walter missed 1-on-1 chance. In the end, Stoke 1 Arsenal 1

Good Sides
The good point from this game is the return of the passing game. Arsenal, arguably, played the ball quite well despite making some bad touches. They were dominant in the midfield. Robin van Persie scored a goal from open play, that's also a good point from this game. He had been "quite unproductive" compared to his performance this season. Yossi Benayoun showed a great determination and aggresivity, and he might be permanently sold to Arsenal next summer. Rosicky remained a good dirigent in Arsenal's midfield, and Ramsey, who was injured on the same ground, showed some neat passes, and ambition to shot from the outside, despite not meeting the target. He wasn't afraid to make some challenge to Stoke's player.

Bad sides
On the other hand, Arsenal showed his old illness, lack of creativity against defensive teams. Stoke was great in defending, they pulled some last ditch block, as well as well as nice saves from Asmir Begovic. However, Arsenal didn't create many chances in the second half, compared to the first half. They were missing Arteta who has fierce long shot, or even Wilshere's ability to play the ball. Gervinho was ineffective in front of goal, despite making use of his pace well. Wenger's decision not to play Chamberlain raised eyebrows. Arsenal were lacking of creativity, but Wenger played centre-forward Marouane Chamakh, who was in goal drought since September. Chamakh didn't play too badly in this game. Of course, he lacked of time to show his skill by just entering the fray 10 minutes from the normal time. But, he did make some neat touches. He didn't even get any service to threaten the goal. Another bad point from this game is some mistake shown on the backline. Kieran Gibbs was still really vulnerable, and few times he was attacked and attacked again.

Actually, it would be a bad result, if we saw that Wenger dropped two points. However, with Newcastle losing 4-0 on Wigan, it was a fairly good result for the Gunners. 4 points above Newcastle with one less game to play than Newcastle, 7 and 8 above Tottenham and Chelsea with two games less. Arsenal still in a good driving seat to secure direct qualification to the Champions League. Next match, against Norwich City in Emirates Stadium, they cannot afford to make any mistake, or it would be Tottenham or Chelsea who take Arsenal's place now.

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