Stoke City (3) – (1) Arsenal
The Britannia Stadium, Stoke
What can you say about that?
Arsene only played 2 first team players (Fabregas and Denilson) and we lost 3-1. Stoke scored in the first 70 seconds from a trademark throw-in we didn’t deal with, and although Arsenal played their reserves Fabregas added that bit of quality which made Arsenal tick.
I did wonder why of all the players, Fabregas was picked in the starting line-up – surely he is the one player you would want to protect going into massive league games against Villa, United, Chelsea and Liverpool?
Ramsey would have been an adequate replacement, and one he was introduced in the second half Arsenal looked more lively.
The game could have gone either way in fairness, and as the scores were level in the second half and we were controlling all the possession, Stoke hit us with a sucker punch and from then on the game was over.
I can’t be bothered doing individual player ratings, but Walcott in particular was awful. I joke that he’s just a sprinter but today he didn’t help his cause. All that pace, no control or composure on the ball – you wonder if they kid has actually progressed since he arrived. I’m not expecting Maradona-esque control after returning from injury but I would expect one or two signs of quality. And he’s not a kid anymore, he’s 21 now.
Sol Campbell on the other hand, and Silvestre, both had decent games. Both made some last ditch tackles and overall did well. Fabianski was hit and miss, and wouldn’t have Almunia losing any sleep about the number one jersey.
Traore was his usual self – shaky at the back but offers that something in the attacking third, and Eastmond, Coquelin and Thomas were reserve players thrown in at the deep end. Vela was on the periphery as usual and couldn’t impose himself on the game.
Substitutes Arshavin and Eduardo couldn’t get into the game when they were introduced but Ramsey added something to Arsenal’s attacking play.
In the end, Stoke were in our faces, never gave us any time on the ball and were very physical. I did think their tackling was over the top at times but the referee wasn’t interested in protecting our players.
Well Arsene rested his first team players, played his reserves and tried to nick a passage into the next round of the FA Cup. If we won, then fine but if we didn’t then it would hardly make much of a difference on our season. The fact is a lot of supporters weren’t too bothered about today’s game because Arsene hasn’t had the FA Cup as a priority for about four seasons now. The fact that Liverpool, United and now Arsenal are out shows how (sadly) the FA Cup has been devalued over the years.
I do have to mention the ITV coverage was hugely biased, and the whole incident where Arsenal won a free-kick from a handball was hilarious. For a solid 5 minutes, the commentator was moaning about how it didn’t hit his arm and there wasn’t any intent so it shouldn’t have been a free-kick. Then they showed the reverse angle (where it clearly hit his arm) and he soon shut up. How ridiculous.
I understand they’re all for shocks in the cup, but to w*nk over Stoke like they were Real Madrid for 90 minutes was uncomfortable to watch.