Arsenal 1 Stoke 0: A win is a win
ARSENAL 1 STOKE 0
FROM GOODPLAYA AT THE EMIRATES
BEFORE Saturday’s game I found myself with time to spare and took a walk down memory lane and wrote about the experience under the heading My Highbury Windows.
As for the game, I thought animosity aptly filled footballistic excitement’s vacuum. Don’t get me wrong, Stoke were hardly angelic on a couple of occasions but as much as anything you sensed one of the reasons for all the venom that ended up emanating from the stands was that frankly there hadn’t been too much else to shout about in the second half.
We were ok before the break. Not brilliant, but alright. We had our moments and forced some decent saves but they were more moments rather than a sustained onslaught.
There was a reason why the first second half highlight on Match of the Day was, I think, our goal. And that was that not a lot happened before it and frankly, the subs felt like a bloody long time coming. By 58 minutes we weren’t going anywhere fast and frankly with no momentum to interrupt it seemed the perfect moment to make the subs. And yet you just knew we’d have to wait until the 68th minute and then before you know it is getting into the late 70s and frankly we’re not looking like scoring.
We weren’t lucky at all to win but it is true that we were hardly banging at the door when the goal came and time could, very, very easily have run away from us. I’m not trying to be negative and any kind of win is to be very much welcomed.
As for the controversies, it was of course, clearly a goal. The flag could only have been for Walcott and if you’re going to have a not interfering with play role then this was the scenario it was made for. He neither touched the ball, went to touch the ball nor blocked the goalkeeper’s view. Case closed.
Shawcross’ tackle was fascinating because it was, like the one on Ramsey, utterly reckless. You can argue about whether it was intentional but the fact is that by going in like that the contact so high up on Koscielny was completely predictable. The Owen thing is funny because it is Owen, though not a great deal more.
A few thoughts on the players:
- Monreal did well enough, though I’m not quite sure his performance merited being featured on Match of the Day. A funny aside was that it took 9 minutes 56 seconds for him to get his first touch (it was cheered).
- It was hard to know why Stoke caused us so few problems. Were they poor or were we tight? I don’t know.
- Diaby found his groove a bit.
- Theo is greatly improved footballistically but his best moment was, for me, when he sent Wilkinson “accidentally” flying towards the end. The perfect retort to whatever was being dished out in his direction. I haven’t seen a replay of the possible elbow that had felled Theo earlier so can’t comment on it but what can be said is that our man wasn’t getting a hell of a lot of sympathy from his own crowd from what I could see.