BPL Season 2015/2016: Stoke City 0 - 0 Arsenal
Match review & rants by a Malaysian Gooner
Yet another one of those matches that we predictably couldn't have won. Remember I talked about possible match-fixing patterns in my review on the Southampton game? Again, not that I'm saying it's definitely a fixed match. I'm mostly just saying that this was exactly the game that I wouldn't expect us to win and I wouldn't put my money on the Gunners — last match of the day on a weekend, poor head-to-head history away against Stoke and only a -1/2 handicap in Asian betting odds.
However, there are enough reasons to justify this poor performance by the Gunners — Mesut Ozil was out due to apparent inflammation in his foot (which explains why he wasn't great against Liverpool) and the referee was too lenient on Stoke players who was physical and fouled whenever our players had a chance to penetrate their defence. If I remember correctly, the ref produced no card, nil, zero, for the 26 offences in the game, 16 of those being Stoke's. The home team's strategy was simple — close down like fuck and counter. They probably knew our midfield was lacking of a master. Despite the required heroics by goalkeepers on both sides, the match was relatively boring and had nil-nil written all over it since the beginning of the match. Petr Cech was outstanding again, and he made a brilliant double-save in the second half that was essential for the point.
For the poor performance, we also have our own players and injuries to blame, but of course, le nice boss Arsene Wenger refused to do so and instead, he even praised Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for his brief moments of dribbling out of the relentlessly rough pressure by Stoke. As a fan, I've seen what the Ox could do and is a propect but he has been poor and he was shit as well in this game. His passing was very, very poor, he dribbles out of play and into defence, in the second half he started ball-watching, and on top of it all, he failed to provide control in midfield. But to be fair, we have no one else who could it with Santi Cazorla, Wilshere, Francis Coquelin and Thomas Rosicky all still out. But like the previous game at Anfield, the weakness was obvious — we have no commander, a point guard, at the heart of the pitch to dictate tempo and distribute the ball around for desired plays.
Also, almost no one performed decently on offence. Theo Walcott sucked, Olivier Giroud didn't get to do much except missing that one chance he had against the goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsey was probably still having phobia against Ryan Shawcross (the fella who broke his leg a few seasons ago) — there was absolutely no creativity. Joel Campbell was fantastic again playing the Ozil role, showed vision, composure and accurate passing. Some of his through-passes and initiatives were amazing. However, like against Liverpool, that was all only in the first half. He was probably gassed out by the second half. Or the defenders begun paying attention to his plays.
Two draws in the two away games but still top of the league. Not the worst result, with all things considered. Next up, Chelsea at Emirates Stadium with both Ozil and Alexis Sanchez likely to return. If we fail to win, we may drop as low as the third place with Manchester City and Leicester City right behind us neck-to-neck. We have to start winning again. The title is still up for grab.
Stoke City vs. Arsenal - 360Posted by Live Football News on Sunday, 17 January 2016
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