Stoke Preview: If Arsenal Try, They Will Convert Effort Into Points

On the day that Fletcher Christian ledThe Mutiny On The Bounty, Arsenal travel to the Potteries with The Britannia Stadium witnessing some of the club’s most horrible away performances against a meritless style of football. The parallels are not lost; Bligh’s unnecessary bullying and overly aggressive approach manifested in football terms by Pullis’ artless and brutal long ball philosophy. Arguments will rage about whether the rules are stretched, misshapen or just plain ignored; there is little argument that the Welshman is out-of-touch with modern footballing theory and it is almost inconceivable that under his current theories that they will progress. If the supporters of that club are happy with that, so be it; mediocrity rules indeed in the midlands that time forgot.

With Pep Guardiola ending his managerial career at the Camp Nou will lead to unedifying speculation over the manager’s future plans; no doubt they still involve seeing out his contract. Hints this morning that despite his previously stated preference to remain at the club’s Academy, Steve Bould is Arsène’s Assistant once Pat Rice retires. If it isn’t Bould, Lehmann (unlikely) or Adams (possible) are mentioned; the Dream Candidate of Dennis Bergkamp is nowhere to be seen, in print at least.

I have said on numerous occasions before, I just do not understand the disrespect shown for the Irishman. Actually I do; those who denigrate Rice’s contribution to the club actually want to abuse Wenger but knowing that they will be derided themselves, they turn their attentions to an easier target. Often it is held up that Ferguson’s sustained success is due to frequently changing his right-hand man; it’s an urban legend. Ferguson routinely loses his Assistants due to their own managerial ambitions; I cannot think off-hand of any whom he has released from their contracts.

The current “staleness” is often blamed on Rice, ignoring the fact that he is the only Assistant Wenger has had at his time at Arsenal. If he is to blame for the trophyless period, by that logic it follows that he should be credited with the years 1997 – 2005. What has Arsène done for the club? Quite simply, the blame game is too simplistic and misguided to play in these circumstances.

Bould’s promotion ought to offer Stoke a contrast to their own predicament, proof that aspirations to the top can be realised. Having learned his trade at The Victoria Ground, George Graham’s astute purchase was a lynchpin for the fabled defence. He was criminally under-rated at the time, not winning enough international honours for my liking. History is more appreciative of his contribution, a stablising influence in the centre of the defence. I find it hard to see any of the current Stoke defence making such a step and winning recognition for their efforts. At least for their defensive work rather than the physical assaults perpetrated on their peers.

Unsurprisingly, injuries are preying on the mind of the manager. Theo Walcott is out for the remainder of the season and the brakes applied to any hopes of Jack Wilshere‘s returrn to fitness. Thankfully. In those circumstances – and despite being different players – Yann M’Vila and Javi Martinez are linked with moves to the club although at a combined fee of somewhere near £50m it seems highly unlikely that both will arrive in the summer. I mean, honestly, why bother when fees in excess of £20m are mentioned? “In excess of £10m” is much more realistic.

Abou Diaby is a doubt through illness which is a shame, not just for his continued bad luck on injuries, etc. The Frenchman would thrive in the physical arena of this afternoon, his dynamic running game would stretch the play. Yet the fragility of his fitness can be stifling; confidence is all and playing him when not fully fit may be more a question of confidence than anything else.

The return of Yossi Benayoun compensates for Walcott, allowing Oxlade-Chamberlain to stretch the Stoke defence on the right with the Israeli occupying the left. Ramsey in the centre with Rosicky and Song offers stability of personnel. I do not think that the Welshman will be fazed by the match, the venue or evenpoor, ickle Ryan Shawcross.

The line-up will be:

Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Rosicky, Song, Ramsey; Oxlade-Chamberlain, van Persie, Benayoun

Chamakh were he in better form might have started with van Persie on the left but I do not think that Wenger will take the risk. Much is made of the aerial ball but to be honest, it is unlikely Arsenal will win anything aimed at Crouch if the delivery is good; the defence and midfield need to make sure they are alive to the path of the knockdown and runners arriving to benefit from this. Even so, I personally do not think Crouch is that good in the air and a robust approach from Vermaelen or Koscielny is effective in unsettling the player.

All that matters this afternoon is Arsenal emerging with three points. Events elsewhere are out of their control but for third place to be guaranteed, Arsenal must win their matches first and foremost, taking advantage of any slips by others.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.

Posted on April 28, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 184 Comments.

  1. the orcs must be tamed,COYG.

  2. Not a hint of a first in sight, Anonymous!

    To get everyone in the mood, pop over to Arsenal On This Day and read of the day the title was retained at Stamford Bridge. That was 12 months after winning the title at….Stamford Bridge

  3. me anonymous?

  4. moderation?oh well…

  5. we need a win…… fight for it!!!!!…… COYG

  6. naija

    Only because this is the first time you’ve posted as “you” since the great WordPress Fiasco of ’12.

  7. Isn’t Coquelin fit? All the blog writers seem to prefer Ramsey and I really don’t know why. I think Coquelin is a better footballer all round and if fit, should start the game.
    Ramsey hasn’t done anything to deserve such an automatic start in my opinion.

  8. ‘koye

    He’s doubtful, last weekend he was a fortnight away from returning so this weekend is one game too soon. Plus he’s been out for a while so Coquelin would have been unlikely to start today.

  9. Yogi,
    Thought he was declared fit alongside diaby for the chelsea game. Oh well, with Ramsey on the pitch, i can’t deny that I’m not too optimistic of a win. A draw will be some achievement. The midfield needs, if not dynamism, then some certainty in the way the play. Coquelin could have provided that. Ramsey lingers too long on the ball and sometimes, seem to lack the intelligence of knowing what to do with the ball. He lacks confidence and i hope pre-season will take care of him or more competition in the squad will help him. No one knows.

  10. I’m not sure Stoke are either as good or as poor as you suggest.

    Even without Arteta, the team has an opportunity to show how far rthey have come this year (or conceivably not?) in terms of winning when the pressure is on and when they have to but aren’t playing very well. If RvP starts fuiring again, third is almost certain, I think. If not, it’s going to be a scrap and if the team scraps hard enough they should jhave a good chance of overcoming a Stoke side who are lowest placed and have the worst goal difference of the teams above Villa for a reason.

    Either way, I don’t think your take on Ferguson is correct.

    People see that he has lots of different number twos, whether this is because they are talented and ambitios enough to want to mae the break or because he shifts them out to freshen things up isn’t really the point (except that it might well be regarded as better to have ambitions talented guys in the organisation rather than people you decide afterwards aren’t really good enough). The question is what does Pat Rice actually do? If it’s a lot, then has he been less able to contribute effectively as he gets older – or if it’s more of a background role, then would Wenger have benefited from someone else pushing him/ challenging his ideas/ encouraging him to try something different?

  11. koye,koye,koye, you are going to get yourself in trouble with the ‘ramsey watch’ here for comments like that.

  12. ok YW i thought i was immune to the wordpress bug.’koye is it not too early to start this old ramsey not good enough trolling?support your players for once,they have a battle with the ugly orcs to win!

  13. chris, so in summary you have made pat rice a scapegoat. Brilliant points by the way, even with my crystal ball i would not have been able to come up with such insightful drivel.

  14. If one of coquelein or diaby is fit and available they should play.

  15. A question isn’t an answer – I haven’t said anything about Pat Rice

  16. Great post.
    I enjoyed Gervais’ performance in the Home game against the Cloggers. He might need to practice his hurdling for this game but I can see him jinxing his way through the lines again.

  17. Naija arse,
    I don’t even know what ‘trolling’ means anymore. What i wrote about ramsey is pretty obvious to everyone. Fans’ patience are a little shorter now given the disappointments of the last 4 or 5 seasons or so. Can’t keep justifying underachievement with excuses like ramsey and other youngsters who are simply not up to it. I hope he proves us doubters wrong in the nearest future though.

    Really don’t know what Mr Rice does. My perception of wenger however makes me think he’s the type of guy that would love someone as quiet and unchallenging as rice as assistant. Fergie firing them or the assistants leaving both point to something, things are kept fresh or the assitants are ambitious , things i believe are necessary for a top side. Appointing Bould could be a sign of new things. I think he’s the best for the job.

  18. Chris, does the question you have asked not reveal your own opinion on the subject, or do you just not have one?

  19. I think that it is fair to say that Queiroz has made an impression. For some reason he quit/ got sacked from the Portugal job just before a big tourney and now coaches Iran.

  20. My apologies. Queiroz was sacked and suspended after the last WC. The suspension was upheld on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

  21. ‘Abou Diaby is unwell and may not feature, while Yossi Benayoun returns after being ineligible last weekend.’

    Unwell!? Come on!

  22. I agree with finsbury, Gervinhio will be useful today!

  23. “Unwell!? Come on!”

    Why the incredulity? Thomas Rosicky was unwell last week so it’s hardly surprising that one of his colleagues might catch it. It’s just unfortunate that it is Diaby.

  24. is pulis really out of touch with football??
    or has he found a style that works for a crap team in the top league?
    as long as he keeps a team like stoke in the pl where all the money is im sure hes not bothered what style they play..its more out of choice rather than ignorance i think..

    anyhoo..i get your point and crap team they are nonetheless and if we come away from stoke without anything after being beaten by another throw i’ll be amazed that we havent learned fuck all about stoke in all the times weve played them..

    100% focus today..a post was written recently about how our defenders will get us to third..
    they need to be switched on for this one..it doesnt matter where it goes, stoke are shit in keeping possession so just get rid of it and dont allow them that second ball in our box..take that away from them and they are fuck all..

    as for m’villa and martinez, its m’villa we are after..
    martinez is the smokescreen..
    inter have been trailing mvila for as long as we have and they know wengers got the pulling power over young french hotshots so theyve been snooping round song to try and put us off..
    mind games aint it…inter want mvilla so they threaten to take song if we end up with mvilla..
    wengers not having it..martinez name gets leaked and we send everyone over in his dirtection instead while we tie up the loose ends for the french destroyer..as well as keeping hold of our cameroonain destroyer..
    simples 🙂

    and rvp will probably play the remaining fixtures..wengers not used chamakh and park all season, hes not going to start using them now when we need the points and robin needs the goals..

  25. ————-chezzer
    sags—koz——-tv——-gibbs
    —————song
    ——rosicky——-benny
    le ox———mvp———gervinho

  26. to be honest im not sure diaby would be the man for this one..
    his physical attributes would seem ideal for this game but..and ive said this before..hes fully aware of all his injurys and he doesnt get involved as much as what people think he would do for his size..
    games that require all out action seem to pass him by…which is the reason why he gets alot of stick..but when youve had all the injuries hes had and your a frail player your not going to get stuck in to the tough teams..becuase your going to be injured after 10 mins..

    its not a massive blow that hes ill for this one..

    im not sure about rambo either..
    a chance of redemption but his forms poor and hes giving balls away for free lately..
    id like to think hes going to score the winner from the bench but i dont think id start him for this one

  27. JonJon

    For me todays a toss up between which 3 out of yossi, gerv, AOC and ramsey will start..

    My predicted line up

    ————————-SCZ——————–

    –Sagna————Kos—–TV———–Gibbs

    ———————Song—-Yossi—————–

    AOC——————–Rosicky————Gerv

    ———————-RVP————————–

    Mind you though..my predicted line ups are usually wrong 😀

  28. JJ

    Same line up sorry…did not see your previous post…

  29. Yogi
    Well thought out and composed post.

    I don’t imagine any club looking forward to visiting Stoke and dealing with their tactics.

    Many a more talented team (than Stoke) have entered their lair knowing what to expect and lost points.

    I agree with JonJon
    “wengers not used chamakh and park all season, hes not going to start using them now when we need the points and robin needs the goals”

    BUT this would be a excellent choice of opponents to start Chamakh in the center, have RvP play as the false right wing and stick Gervinho on the left. RvP can float ( as Benny does when on the left) and get his goals.

    I was hoping Coq was fit for this match, as I could see Song as effective in the Arteta role.

    COYG

  30. Shez
    Sagna kos verm Gibbs /santos
    Song
    Rosicky. Ramsey/coquelin

    Gervinho. Yossi
    Van persie

    We can do it!

  31. i agree with you anirudh..

    we’ll see if your wrong when the line ups are announced but whatever happens we are in it together..we’ll be both wrong

    to be honest im not bothered who starts and i will take a point from this one..
    we need to beat norwich though and depending on other results we might get away with just a point at wba..but it would be fucking lovely to kick stoke in the bollox and take the three on offer here..

    nerves will be eased again..

  32. I see Bale has started making noises about leaving the Spudmonkeys if (when) they don’t qualify for the CL. Chortle.

    Could work in their favour actually. If he goes for £40-60M, as is rumoured, they could do some judicious rebuilding. Not that I’d trust Dirty Harry to get it right.

    If I was the owners I’d sound out Jurgen Klopp or Brendan Rodgers or someone else decent and then sack Harry. ASAP. Sell Bale and a host of others and then strengthen sensibly and start a new era.

    However I have great confidence that, whatever they do, Levy and co will manage to get entirely wrong.

    It’s going to be a fascinating summer alright.

    Sorry trying – not to think too much about the Stoke game.

    Pre-match jitters an’ all.

  33. your right yogi all that matters is three points.

  34. Jonnyneale – Where have you seen / heard that about Bale? Modric is definitely off in the summer so losing both would be a major blow. On top of that they’ve realised that Adebayor will a) cost them a crazy amount of money they can’t afford & b) he’s a complete cock (and I’m being polite there). They also need another 1 or 2 centre backs, having the cash available to strengthen is obviously good bit replacing several of your “star” players at once is no easy task even for a manager like Arry who takes genius in the transfer market to a new level.

  35. it will be a tight game nervey game
    stoke will make it scruffy..
    2-1 to the good guys though with a late winner from an under appreciated out of form young man…

    come on..

  36. Marc – one of the sport BBC journalists, Ben Smith, tweeted it. Said that he may leave and

    “We’d have to talk and see what is best for me.”

  37. Ha great news

  38. Limestonegunner

    Santos is actually one of our best aerial defenders, so I’d start him.

  39. Spuds high water mark came and went in 90 minutes of mayhem at the Emirates; they are unwinding at a rate of knots.

    They might have saved themselves by replacing ‘Arry the moment the ‘England’ circus rolled into town.

    Too late now.

    Sadly, for some, they will soon be the have nots.

  40. arsenalandrew – I wouldn’t actually say the Spuds have ever been the “have’s” unless you mean serious delusions of grandeur.

  41. Good post, YW. Today will be a good test of how far the team has come. I agree with JonJon in predicting a somewhat nervy 2-1 win. I’m hoping Ramsey doesn’t try that ‘break your own leg’ trick again.

  42. It was a very weak pun on knot/not, to be honest, Marc.

    I found the media just as delusional as any spud fan and like many I was profoundly irritated by the love-in that followed spurs brief foray into playing the kind of expansive entertaining footie we’ve been playing for years…

  43. Look at each and every club harry’s left !

  44. On this day, Saturday 1st April Arsenal played Stoke at the Victoria Ground.

    Denis Lowe introduces Arsenal in ‘The Red Carpet’

    “The days when Arsenal seemed to carry off one trophy or other almost every season and drew capacity crowds all over the country may be over….but there’s no doubt that the Highbury club still has tremendous drawing power…”

    He notes that “…new manager Bertie Mee and coach Dave Sexton have begun building a new side and are on the brink of a real revival”. George Eastham has been transferred to Stoke and Alan Skirton and Tommy Baldwin have also moved on. Coming in, after a layout of £130,000, were George Graham, Colin Addison and Bob McNab. Spend the money, Bertie!

    Also that,” Arsenal’s defence has tightened up a good deal and they upset spectators at Goodison last November using a 3-5-2 line up which baffled Everton”.

    Coming through the ranks was one Pat Rice, “’’a back who played for Ireland’s Under 23 team recently and may get a first team chance shortly”. Interestingly four other youngsters of”…considerable talent..”, Jim McGill, Tom Coakley, Gordon Neilson and Mike Boot retain no place in my memory. A reminder that most talent does fall by the wayside.

    Elsewhere, Don Hardisty, in a column entitled, ‘Real Madrid have more than Basketball’, discusses the difference between British stadia and those on the continent. He believes that ’Playing conditions, changing rooms and treatment facilities are second to none in this country..but the improvements in spectator comforts which had to be made, and the need for the government to step in with financial aid when grounds had to be brought up to standard for the World Cup illustrate the twin problems that still exist:

    1. How are British Grounds to be improved,

    2. Where is the money to come from?

    He identifies the problem arises because we led the world in turning football into a game with mass appeal ‘…in an era which knew nothing of motor cars and when all the spectator expected for his few coppers’ admission was a few inches of terracing to stand on. Grounds were built within easy walking distance of town centres and were hemmed in by houses.”

    As the game spread, other nations planned for a different public.

    ‘Their grounds could be built on cheaper land outside towns, with car parks, and they provided more seats- and charged for them’.

    He also points out that many of these clubs had the cooperation of municipal authorities who were willing to build stadiums for clubs and charge a reasonable rent. As important was the ‘family club’ set up whereby men, women and children pay annual subscriptions in return for facilities to play all kinds of sports. This ensures both income and loyalty.’

    Real Madrid, he points out, ‘..Are among Europe’s best at Basketball…while German clubs, like Hamburg and Nuremburg, run as many as 40 football teams for players of all ages from 9 upwards.’

    The Arsenal team that day: Furnell, Simpson, McNab, Neill, Ure, McLintock, Sammels, Radford, Graham, Court, Armstrong.

    For Stoke. It was: Shardlow, Palmer, Skeels, Viollet, Bloor, Allen, Burrows, Vernon, Dobing, Mahoney, Eastham.

    In ‘The Odd Spot’, In answer to the question ‘How do Football League standards compare with those in the Scottish League?’, Alex Gordon says, “One or two of the teams I have faced in the in the English Fourth Division would hold their own in the top eight in Scotland First, in which I played for Dundee Utd”.

    Has anybody noticed that things don’t change an awful lot over 50 years in football? The issues remain the same.

    For those of you who may doubt Stoke’s place in the entertainment world, the programme suggests that ‘After enjoying the match, enjoy a pleasant evening dancing in the most modern and up-to-date ballroom in the country!’

    And for those conspiracists amongst us, H.A. Wild, Cleaning Services, opine, ‘If it’s not clean, don’t blame the ref!’

    Oh, and to arrive fresh, let ‘Someone else do the driving – go by PMT’, which, in case you were worried by an image of the possible gender and mental state of the drivers, stands for the Potteries Motor Traction Co. Things were moving fast in the 60’s.

    Here is yesterday’s football result: Stoke City 2 Arsenal 2

  45. That’s ‘..this day. 1967’ by the way but I expect you all knew that.

  46. CB
    appreciate your research and dedication to eloquently revisit moments in Arsenal history.

  47. I’m pretty sure I spotted Coquelin in one of those squad-training photos on the .com site. Not sure he’ll start though.
    Glad to see the wind and rain we’ve got down here is holding off up in Stoke. Not that I think it would affect either the way we play, or our “mental strengths”, but some grim ol’ weather would certainly inspire further ugliness in the way Stoke’ll play. We’ll run rings round them. Gibbs v Pennant would be preferable than Santos today. And Benayoun and Gervinhio, with Chamberlain on later.

  48. Consolsbob how long have u been supporting arsenal for?

  49. Ha! Superb as usual Bob – I was just thinking earlier where is Bob’s wonderful Saturday missive from yesteryear. I thought you were away or something.

    Good stuff.

  50. Just back from a few days in a caravan on the beach actually jonny!

    Glad you enjoyed it.

    All my life really Andrew, father and his father before him stuff, but I saw my first Arsenal game sometime in the mid sixties. Mind you, that was after my first Argyle match.

  51. C’bob

    Splendid as usual…

  52. Right. Off to the greenhouse for some tomato plant repotting. With my radio of course.

  53. “I just do not understand the disrespect shown for the Irishman.”

    Me neither.
    I would love Steve Bould to get the job. He has been great for the U18s and his personality would complement Arsene’s well. I think they’d make a great team.

    Diaby will be a big miss. I have a feeling Gervinho will start rather than AOC. Unless he’s injured? I’d love Le Coq to get this game but don’t think he will.

  54. This is a no brainer. We have to win this puppy. Toons is breeathing down our necks. Spurs are on the downhill slide but they can be a force. Chelsea is hitting their stride. Let’s remember the Blues, Spurs and Toons each have a game in hand. This is a must win. What did ya think about the Blues sticking a fork in Barca and Bayern Munich doing the same to Real. I love the dogs. The quandery- root for the Blues or not. If blues win we could lose our spot in the Champions League. so the solution win baby win as Al Davis former Owner of the Oakland Raiders.

  55. Yes, great read Bob, thanks – it is quite remarkable how history repeats itself.

    Also, you’ve highlighted the exceptional nature of Pat Rice’s contribution to the club over almost 50 years which is simply stunning – he has been involved professionally with Arsenal for every single year I’ve been a mere supporter.

    I think this achievement alone is worthy of no small measure of respect.

    Again, some of the flaky, fair weather fans may wonder why they come a cropper when, in their ignorance, they attempt to single out Pat for the scapegoating treatment.

    That’s the reason why.

  56. pedantic george

    Its Yogi’s team apart form Gervinho starts for AOC

  57. Great scenes at Southampton. Glad they have gone straight up.

  58. @ pedantic george | April 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Is that team news, or your prediction, pg?

  59. Really !!! amazing that u have kept your enthusiasm all this time! My first game was when arsenal lost 2 1 to Leeds Harry kewell scored a screamer:(. I really hope the lads can do the job today! I know we are good enough !

  60. pedantic george

    No FG that is the team

  61. Just spotted Diaby is sub – so at least he’s on the mend, virus wise. Maybe he’ll come on in the 60th …

  62. Great posts Yogi and consolbob. You must have a fine collection of programmes CB.

  63. thanks, pg
    le coq and Diaby around too – good

  64. Good afternoon All.

    Anyone know if there is a Radio station with our game on?

    Or a decent stream to watch it?

  65. no Arsenal Player, matt?

  66. Good point FG – Didn’t think of that!

  67. A slog in the rain to swing low sweet chariot..a day to smash and grab a 1-0 whateve delap and pulis throw at us.COYG.!

  68. FG

    It is the team.

    AA

    If you look at the official PL site tweets, they’ve announced Carlos Vela is a sub as well…

  69. SkySports news are showing Diaby as sub (but no mention of Vela, alas!)

  70. KG HERE!

  71. Seriousley, this is far to exciting, scary and imporant to watch almost. omg waaaaah! if we win this i will be very happy….

  72. Anyone got the sopcast link?

  73. Where’s Mr Black for the commentary?!

  74. Nearly, Benny!

  75. Shit – Crouch heads in.

  76. So close Robin! But what a cross from Rosicky!

  77. F*ck me, Crouch scores.

  78. There is a certain air of inevitability about conceding early against these fuckers isn’t there.

    Jeez! Come on boys – need to dig deep here.

  79. Begins to rain, Crouch scores and satellite feed dissappears!

  80. hoksilatowitko

    About time to show our mental strength now…

  81. RVP!

  82. Get in there RVP!!!!!

    EXACTLY what we needed! Get the fuck in!

  83. Yes! And another fantastic cross from Rosicky.

  84. good play by bennygoon the toon are one doon.

  85. And Wigan two nil up. Oh Wigan!

  86. Signal back. Missed our goal and Wigans two.

  87. Ramsey playing well by the sound of it …

  88. Wigan doesn’t make sense!

  89. Bendy scores for the Black Cats; should help his resale value. And Wigan doing us proud at 3-0.

  90. Pouring heavily and signal is lost,is steww around to do the necessary?those watching please keep us updated.

  91. Wigan destroying oldcastle!

  92. Rosicky playin well, gervinho looks tricky icky..we look good.

  93. I really like Wigan.

  94. Playing very well indeed. We must continue in this vein.

    Please someone tell me I’m mishearing or that it’s for some other reason, are the Stoke fans booing Ramsey for havin his leg broken by one of their players?

  95. What has Martinez been feeding his players? An incredible run of form, against the very best of opposition, at the business end of the season, whilst playing 3 at the back.

    REMARKABLE.

  96. Apparently the dastardly little scamp broke his own leg and got Shawcrossy the blame …

  97. Yes, yes. Shawcrossy is such a good lad and he cried and his momma came to get him and he just isn’t that kind of player. It’s so obvious that Ramsey is the true culprit. His bones are soft and besides, he is just too quick. If he had been a tad slower the impact would’ve been lessened etc. etc. etc.

  98. We are looking really good so far. I fully expect Stoke to try to slow the game down and bring on Delap for those ridiculous throws. I would really love to see Gervinho get on the scoresheet. He just needs that little bit of confidence to find that scoring touch.

  99. Deano sadly – it isn’t. I think the shite that Luke character has been spouting about Ramseys leg being broken prior to Shawcross contact, may be the (extraordinary) belief of a vocal minority.
    Even if this is the (utterly stupid) belief, I cannot understand why the player is being blamed/booed.
    Fucking cunts. I bet the media will ignore it.
    Really Wenger ought to say something but he has to much dignity.

  100. Does anyone really expect the Stoke faithful to conduct themselves with even the slightest amount of class? Their reaction to Ramsey is not surprising. They are all classless cunts… Its to be expected.

  101. 4-0 to Wigan, let’s hope that there is no comeback as in that “other match” BBC says it’s 63% possession to Arsenal in H1

  102. Sounds nicely poised; up to our lads now to consolidate things and put them in their miserable place.

  103. Blatant Shawcross handball?

  104. F*ck me, Foy is never going to give a penalty?

  105. The Stoke fans are the worst bunch of despicable cunts I have ever seen in my entire life.

  106. JESUS FUCKING H CHRIST.

    Will we ever be awarded a penalty?

    Shitting fucking useless cunting refs.

    Good to see Diaby on …

  107. Oh, and now Diaby stopping the ball is already a foul?

  108. Bogus decisions by the ref. Could have had an easy penalty from two obvious discretions. Incompetence?

  109. Santos on for Benny; 60+% possession for the Arsenal.

  110. The dreadful Delap makes an unwelcome appearance …

  111. Foy is living up to that debatable decisions table. Stoke get all the calls and we get none.

  112. Why is Delap even stepping onto the field? The only thing he will do is stand on the line and take his throw-ins.

  113. What is WRONG with that “referee”?

  114. Foy didn’t book that????

  115. Are these Stoke fans retarded or something?

  116. Could be a decent point that…. and performance sounded good.

  117. Looks like fight for third going to the wire. Tough match though. We did well!

  118. We deserved 3 points today. It was a penalty, that foul on benny.

  119. We played well and I would’ve loved to see us be less wasteful but what about that Foy performance in the second half? Disgusting. And to think that he gets PAID for that.

  120. Thank fuck for wigan or we’d be in the shit now.

  121. 1 point gained on Newcastle..Hope spurs drops some points..our toughest game out of the way with a point,..a point gained in my book…

    how was that not a pen btw..Of course it all evens out doesnt it…we must get 10 in one game for it to even itself out…

  122. That will do nicely

  123. We wont get any penalties but i am sure it will even itself out.

  124. i’ll take that..

    beat norwich and i think the games will run out for everyone else to be able to catch us..

    thank you wigan..
    when newcastle play chelsea one of them will go..

    believe me this point is important..

    its between us and spurs and spurs have gone like we did last year..too many players unhappy wanting to play for someone else..and that includes their manager..

    weve got this…

  125. nearly

  126. pedantic george

    What does the table look like now?

  127. 1 Man Utd 35 54 83
    2 Man City 35 60 80
    3 Arsenal 36 24 66
    4 Newcastle 35 7 62
    5 Tottenham 34 18 59
    6 Chelsea 34 18 58

  128. Anirudh, we would need more than ten. But i am sure we will get fifteen penalties and five offside goals in the last two and it will even itself out

  129. Only thing we have to worry about is the so called ease of Spurs remaining fixtures.

    They are definately the threat now though – but we know only too well what momentum does, so they are still capable of dropping points.

    Fingers crossed.

  130. Sitting on the boardwalk in Coney Island, eating hotdogs and drinking Brooklyn Lager. Did not get to see the game but a point may prove invaluable in the race for third. Wigan doing amazing and deserve to be in the prem ifWolves had half their belief McCarthy would still have a job and they would be midtable. Dam these hotdogs are good 🙂

  131. Matt

    Blackburn (H), Bolton (A), Fulham (H), the spurs have to play..out of which Blackburn and Bolton are scrapping at the bottom of the table..not straightforward games at all..

    We have Norwich (H), and WBA(A) both of whom are in mid table safety..I would not be so quick to declare their remaining fixtures as easy..

  132. Sahil

    Yep totally true..

  133. Let’s hope that Ryo decides to score his first league goal against our neighbours. Hopefully a winning goal, too!

  134. Appalling referee display. He was the same ref who denied the spuds 2 pens at Stoke earlier in the season. Maybe we should do what the spuds fans did. After their game that got onto Chris Hoy’s (the cyclist) twitter account and abused him. Daft idiots. 🙂

  135. Do they play Wigan too?

  136. opps, moderation. Forgot me email address in last post.

  137. Away at Villa too – that might not be too easy either

  138. Bradys right foot

    We can get to 72 points the other can’t. Win our next two games and we are home and hosed. Chelsea and Newcastle also have to play each other, this point earned against Stoke today is very important.

  139. Spurs have to play Villa (away May 6th). I think they will win at home to Blackburn and Fulham but Bolton and Villa will be fighting for their lives at home.

  140. alex song named pl player of the month

  141. The thing is realistically, to have a chance of finishing third both spurs and newcastle cannot afford to drop any points, which I do not think is possible, with their remaining fixtures..

    Whatever happens, its still totally in our hands with two games to go, and that is a great position to be in…

  142. I can understand people being nervous but the simple fact is that any of Chelsea, Spurs or Newcastle would swop places with us given the chance.

    I’ve seen nothing over the past month to suggest that we will drop more points than any of those teams between now and the end of the season.

  143. April 29
    Chelsea v QPR
    Spurs v Blackburn

    May 2
    Chelsea v Newcastle
    Bolton v Spurs

    May 5
    Arsenal v Norwich

    May 6
    Newcastle v Man City
    Villa v Spurs

    May 8
    Liverpool v Chelsea

    May 13
    Chelsea v Blackburn
    Everton v Newcastle
    WBA v Arsenal
    Spurs v Fulham

    I was hoping perhaps to go and watch the Gunners v Norwich, but my plane does not land until 10.30 and it’s a bloody lunchtime KO

  144. I hope Norwich defend like this next weekend…they are making Liverpool look like Barcelona 🙂

  145. Limestonegunner

    Relegation threatened sides are really playing hard; Bolton with a good point away to mid table Sunderland, Wigan with a powerful dismembering of top 4 Newcastle and even relegated Wolves fighting for a point away to mid table Swansea.

    Frankly the nod table teams are the ones who look uninspired. I hope this means two straight final wins for Arsenal.

  146. Limestonegunner

    Nod=mid; iPhone apologies

  147. So was I MD and some bugger cocked up the arrangements!

  148. Your helicopter been grounded again, Bob?

  149. Coming away from Stoke with all our limbs intact and a point will do. Three would have been better but so be it.

  150. Limestonegunner

    It’s good to see RvP scoring again from open play. Hope to see a torrent of goals in these last two games.

  151. Many EPL players remind me of my cousin Ben. Ben is a huge dude (he earned the nickname bowser from his teammates). Ben has a little brother, Noah. Noah is scrawny. Ben would dish out some serious damage to Noah, but as soon as Noah hit back, Ben would be crying to his parents.

    I am talking about that Whitehead fellow. He charges up the pitch making vicious challenges. Then, when Whitehead is dribbling the ball, he slows down, waits for Kos to put his arms up, and falls to the ground. Fucking pussy cunts. I find it ironic that Stoke, purveryors of brute force and strength, are able to fall to the ground with such ease.

  152. Arsene is such a classy man, he deserves better

    “on his relationship with the Stoke fans…
    They have a relationship with me but I don’t have one with them! They do [enjoy my visits] but I personally have enough experience to cope with that [criticism]. It doesn’t bother me too much. I don’t listen too much to what people chant and I just think one day people in football will have to tackle that as well. It is easy to sit in the stand and insult people – it is the easiest sport in the world.

    on insulting chants…
    I focus on what I love in my job and the way my players behave on the pitch. I am not responsible for the way people behave in the stands. If you want to stop that it is easy to stop but I cannot influence it. I have had so much [criticism] in England, I have been here for 15 years, and basically I don’t hear it because I am focused on the game.

    on how it could be stopped…
    You can isolate every single face. The only thing I think sometimes when I leave the pitch at the end of the game and people insult you or are angry or hateful, I’d just like a little picture and send it home to you. Show that to your son or your daughter, and then come back next week and see if you would do it again, if they are proud of you. That’s all that you can do.”

  153. Unfortunately, Will, teams like Stoke will continue to ‘do what they have to do to stay in the league’ for as long as the referees allow them to. Given that the refs always seem to try to re-balance the game for these neanderthals I suspect this will continue until video technology is finally employed to eke out the Whiteheads and highlight the incompetence of the Foys.

    So don’t hold your breath.

  154. @passenal, all those stoke fans flapping their arms was pretty funny i thought. What gesture would Arsenal fans make to mock Pulis?

  155. Was the story on Diaby? He was limping after waltzing past 2 stokies on the byline, just before the final whistle.

  156. Those looking for tickets ought to look on ticket exchange. There are some on there now and have been regularly since they went on sale.

  157. *What’s

  158. @will: “…Stoke, purveryors of brute force and strength…”
    I thought the expression was “brute force and ignorance”.
    Most sickening event of the season – Stoke fans booing Ramsey – nothing between the ears apparently.
    A good point today – they all count. Tottenham can win both their games in hand and still be behind us – don’t think they will though. Newcastle and Chelsea have to play each other so one or both are going to drop points there. Newcastle also have Man City at home, so I don’t see them being a threat now. Looks like Tottenham for 4th – does that mean I have to root for Chelsea in the CL final? Don’t actually care what happens, as long as AFC are third, though TH not qualifying would be a hoot.

  159. I know what I’d LIKE to gesture to Pulis but would probably settle for a caveman with bleeding knuckles scraping the ground …

  160. Limestonegunner

    I love Coney Island– use to go watch the Cyclones play some ball and eat a Nathan’s hot dog with all the fixings. Good times, Irish!

  161. pedantic george

    Is that where the Warriors were trying to get back to.Pursued by the Riffs?

  162. I just read some comments in the daily mail match report by so called ‘arsenal fans’ , i regret that decision so bad, i feel so disgusted right now, i cringed with embarassment at some of those arsenal fans.

  163. Which comments Khalfha?

  164. TH14 with another super goal for Red Bulls

  165. Thierry carried off with torn hamstring. 😦

  166. Not long back from the match. Interesting trip. I have never been to a ground with less pre-match atmosphere. Half an hour before kick-off, and it was virtually deserted. Even at five to three, it was like a morgue (apart from the away fans).

    Overall, 1-1 was probably a fair result. I was sat right behind the goal where Crouch scored. They made and took their goal well, but the chance seemed to come from a loose pass out of defence. Arsenal responded well to the setback, and it didn’t take long for RVP to score from a nice Rosicky cross. After that, we were mostly in charge for the rest of the half.

    There are two incidents I would like to see on MOTD: the penalty shout when Benayoun was through (my initial reaction was that he was anticipating the contact and may have gone down too easily) and what appeared to be a Shawcross two-footed tackle, also in the penalty area. The latter was one of the most shocking things I have seen up close on a football pitch. He may have actually got the ball, but the tackle appeared to be a potential bone-breaker. It was that tackle that led to repeated chants of “You know what you are, you know what you are, Ryan Shawcross, you know what you are!” Perhaps we were all mistaken, because, as we have all been told, he’s not that kind of player…

  167. Billy if you’ve made Ryany cry again with your horrid chanting you’ll get us all into trouble with his Mum …

    Hope you dedicated a tune or two to the ‘ref’?

  168. Surprisingly, AA, the ref wasn’t targeted in song – I think we were too stunned by some of his decisions. If ever anyone was looking to make a case for the effect of home fans on a referee’s decision-making, this match (particularly the second half) should be Exhibit A. Some of the Stoke players have obviously been taking notes from watching Drogba’s floppy antics.

    A particular favourite song of the day was when the man of the match was announced (sponsored by a local machine-grinding firm or some such), a chant went up, “Your best player is a towel!”

    The chant from some of the away fans of “You live in a s***-hole” were, I felt, possibly a little too close to the bone.

  169. Good towel referencing! Would be amusing to all take towels to the next AFC v Stoke game and collectively ‘throw in the towel’ when we lash them at our place next season. Imagine 55,000 towels flying in from the sides; could work on several levels …

    Not that I’m advocating any towel-based violence, you understand.

  170. Billy – if it happened you can be sure it won’t have made the cut on MOTD! They have so much previous here.

    If it did happen – as you describe – the players and then Wenger should have made a proper furore regarding it.

  171. Nice idea, AA. I can imagine the media twisting into a story about the home fans losing their rag, or proving that Arsenal fans have gone soft!

    Jonny, yes, we may have to wait for the full match replay on Arsenal Player. At the time of the incident, the players seemed momentarily in a state of shock, initially at the tackle, and then from no foul being given. It was surprising that there was no protest by the players, but I guess it is possible that Shawcross may have actually got the ball cleanly (stranger things have happened, but not often).

  172. Can any arsenal fan honestly say that they have less hatred towards spuds than stoke city?, i said their stadium was no different from jurasik park and it proved to be so, how can 35,000 wild animals gather in one place, the insults wenger and ramsey received from those vile cun.ts makes john terry look like nelson mandela – despicable lowlifes

  173. billyboots, cheers man, your a top fan – one question tho, were the stoke fans foaming in the mouth like rabid dogs? Am certain the answer is yes.

  174. pedantic george at 8.17…. I get you! Nice.
    Right. MOTD.

  175. “Although not entirely dim-witted and occasionally crafty, they are portrayed as miserable beings, hating everyone including themselves and their masters, whom they serve out of fear. They make no beautiful things, but rather design cunning devices made to hurt and destroy.”

    From Wikipedia’s description of – wait for it – Orcs. I wonder if that has been re-purposed from another entry.

    @ khalifa

    I don’t hate the Stoke fans. In many ways, I sympathise with them. I hope this doesn’t sound patronising, but imagine how it must feel to live in a not-so-great area and to have, as one of the few sources of civic pride, a team so horrible to watch. That doesn’t excuse their awful behaviour, but it does make it a little more understandable. They may hate (or love) what they see, but if they don’t support it, they may be left even worse off. At least by the club staying in the Premier League, the fans get to see The Arsenal once a season 😉

    I must confess to a grudging admiration for what the club does – namely, play football in a way that other, better teams have difficulty handling. Their football is extremely crude, but also surprisingly effective. In many facets of life, it is easier to destroy than to create, and they exemplify this more than any other club I can think of. With the increasing PL money they receive each year, they can afford bigger, stronger (and perhaps one day, better) players to fit into this bizarre system. One of the greatest ironies is that if they married more skill to their physical approach, they would probably be even more effective. They would certainly win more friends, but I suppose that is the least of their concerns.

  176. @ khalifha at 10:33 pm

    I didn’t see any rabid home fans at all. After we scored, until around the time of the Shawcross incident, they were virtually silent. It really was amazing to see. Prior to making the trip, I had read one or two match reports from away fans who said that the much-vaunted atmosphere at the stadium was, in fact, pretty underwhelming, and I can only agree with their comments.

    They only really perked up when Shawcross was targeted (in song) for his villainy and when Wenger did his trademark arm-waving at the referee. I didn’t detect any venom in their behaviour, it was more a case of humourous mockery of Wenger, staunch defence of the leg-breaker Shawcross, and moronic booing of Ramsey.

  177. Well, Jonny, you called it: no mention or display of the Shawcross incident on MOTD.

  178. billyboots, ah, i see, your comment about the city having something to cheer about made me have an atom of respect for the barbarians, i hate you for that. 🙂

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