Stoke 1 – 1 Arsenal: Arsenal escape from Mordor with a point


Match Report | Highlights | Arsene’s reaction

Let me start by declaring a bias: I really dislike Stoke.  I dislike their manager, their players and their fans.  I dislike their ‘style’ of play and their indeterminate evolutionary heritage.  So if anyone who is not an Arsenal fan accidentally stumbles upon this entry, and feels it’s a bit partizan: it is.  I dislike Stoke.

I do, however, have a grudging respect for the effectiveness of their set-piece based game.  With that in mind, I would gladly have taken a point before the game.  The bonus of seeing Newcastle hammered at Wigan makes it an even better result.

It could arguably have been more.  Arsenal outplayed Stoke, and even Tony Pulis was forced to admit we coped better than ever with their aerial assault.  We looked like a side who were focused, determined, and eager to take all three points.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, as we fell behind early on due to our sole lapse in concentration – Bacary Sagna failed to close down Matthew Etherington, and from that point on we were helpless – the cross and Peter Crouch’s header were both inch-perfect.

We recovered in impressive fashion.  The goal we scored was a combination of some great harrying and hustling from Yossi Benayoun to win the ball high up the pitch, an outstanding cross from the rejuvenated Tomas Rosicky, and classic movement from RVP to pull away at the far post to tuck home.

There were moments where we flirted with a second goal.  Gervinho ducked out of a a simple header, Ramsey fired wide from the edge of the box, and Yossi Benayoun took a tumble in the box, asking for a penalty which he’ll know in his heart of hearts would have been a very soft award.  Despite our dominance, Stoke are always a threat when the ball is out of play, and they nearly punished us from a late Rory Delap throw-in; Bacary Sagna redeeming himself with a spectacular clearance from under our crossbar.

And so, a point it was.  Although we haven’t won in our last three league games, this was by far our best performance since the victory over Manchester City.  Particular credit is due to Aaron Ramsey, who put in a committed and industrious display on a ground which must hold some dark memories for him.  As for the Stoke fans who booed him?  Well, it’s a level idiocy beyond comprehension.  I hoped the empathy and compassion between football fans that sprung up off the back of terrible incidents like the Fabrice Muamba collapse might help put an end to such hateful attitudes.  I was wrong.  Arsene speaks with great eloquence about the situation here:

“I don’t think you can be especially proud to boo Aaron Ramsey, I don’t see what he has done wrong. It’s an old story where the fans of Stoke stand behind their player but it shouldn’t go as far as booing Ramsey.

I think sometimes when I go out on the pitch at the end of the game, and people are angry or hateful, I would like a little picture to send home for them to show their son or daughter, and then come back next week and see if they will do it again, see if they are proud of you.”

Beautifully put. We can, however, be proud of Ramsey and his team-mates for a very creditable point. Two games left; two wins required. Play like we did yesterday, and it’s eminently possible.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.


  1. Wegrice Weguamba   •  

    First gun!

  2. ClvnGnr   •  

    Ramsey was real good last night. Maybe he is better in a more ‘Arteta’ role than a forward one.

  3. Steve   •  

    As I Stoke fan of over 40 years I thought the booing of Ramsey was basically incomprehensible. The lad had played well, and to be given that reception – well it beggars belief.

    Why did it happen? We all know of the old arguments between the clubs – much older than the last four years for those that have memories to remember. That causes tensions and you could feel them in the ground yesterday before the game. The Shawcross-Ramsey incident still looms large in some people’s mind, but I, like so many others had hoped that time heals, and so it seemed for the whole of the first half.

    From my position – at the top of the West stand – the thing that seemed to fire it off was the chant from the Gunners fans towards Shawcross of “you know what you are ..”. Our lot are nothing if not loyal – no matter what you think of them, and the subsequent retort chanting Shawcross’s name was only to be expected.

    What wasn’t expected was just how fractious the crowd got after that. Every tackle was greeted with howls of protest from either the home fans or the away fans as the game heated up. Wenger’s demonstrative pacing up and down the line served to exacerbate the situation … he’s perfectly entitled to show that passion, but the way the crowd picked up on his frustration simply showed that they felt that they could do something to wind up the moment. (As a side issue I don’t think Gary Lineker covered himself with glory at the end of MOTD last night either.)

    It was in that moment – after all the directed abuse, goading and heated tackles that Wenger took Ramsey off.

    I personally was stunned at the response, but to his great credit – part from sarcastically applauding the home fans – he didn’t react. Well done lad, it would have been very easy to do so.

    The Brit in full voice can be a intimidating place – and particularly if they feel they have been wronged – past comments between the managers haven’t helped that.

    What I do feel – more than anything else is that the clubs need to work together to calm all this down before someone gets hurt as a consequence. It only takes one hot head to try and ‘right a wrong’ and the headlines will be of a serious injury.

    Rivalry yes.. and long may it continue. The clash of styles is one of the reasons this fixture is so widely anticipated. Hatred, no for all the reasons I have given above. Let’s hope next years fixtures are preceded by a few calmer heads appearing above the parapet.

  4. clockendjim   •  

    What a bunch of Neanderthals the Stoke lot are. Just because Aaron Ramsey had the temerity to get his leg broken by a criminal tackle from Ryan Shawcross, he became their target of abuse.
    I thought Ramsey had his best game for Arsenal for a long time. I still think he has great potential; if only he would take more shooting practice. He again missed a very good opportunity and over the season should have racked up a fair total.
    This a very important part of Arsenal’s problem – other than Van Persie where are any other goals coming from ? Even when Thierry Henry was getting a hatful of goals, he was very ably supported with terrific tallies from Pires, Llunjberg etc. I hope that Podolski is a done deal because even if we manage to hold on to RVP, we will win nothing without someone else scoring goals too. Dempsey would be an ideal proven addition too – please Mr Wenger

    • Steve   •  

      You see this is what I mean. “criminal tackle” .. the jury is still out on that but such emotive language is picked up by our press and it feeds the flames.

      Poor tackle – we can agree on – although the referee on the day – it was reported – wasn’t even going to send Shawcross off until the consequences of the event became apparent.

      There has to be a point where we draw a line. Shawcross and Ramsey shook hands before the game yesterday evidence that they had moved on, maybe its time for the extremists on both sides of the debate did too.

  5. ManUtdspankArsenal   •  

    Gunners fans are pathetic. You bemoan always. Your team is only a little boys band trying to run behind the big teams. Stop to cry like a little girl and start to play football with men or go to the opera.

    • Gooner 4 Life   •  

      Hey…. what’s ManUtd??

      Oh i see u mean ManUre!!!
      go to hell divers racists cunts led by that Shrek r**ney who knows f*ck all about football but a hell lot of diving… this i the first time i’ve seen pathetic fertilizers coming to Arsenal blogs to spoil the name of their own club…

      Haha… what a kid.

    • aj   •  

      I love this intelligent insights!

    • sasa   •  

      Cry like a little girl? OH PLEASE…

      ManUre cunts cry when that Y*ung was “brought down” by players, cry when they’re rightfully hammered by City but try to find solace in the fact that they hammered us…

      Idiot: Manu put 8 past our reserves…
      ManC put 6 past your first team
      squad (if it is a squad)

      Go play Europa League with your fancy paid “players”(Oh wait… didn’t you get KNOCKED OUT of it???)

    • Gooner 4 Life   •  

      “Stop to cry like a little girl..”

      Wow lovely grammar…!!

  6. king gooner   •  

    wtf is a MANURE C**T DOIN ON ERE-manure spank arsenal-you f**ng muppet!the only bitches crying like little boys are the likes of evra,nancy & co-let’s hope citeh bend you over tommorrow for a good shafting-tevez for the winner-how i will piss myself laughing!no wonder the whole epl hates you-stick to your glory hunting support in the salford/se asia/home counties-..

  7. Waterslide Wenger   •  

    HAHAHAHA! cuntene cuntger talking about examples for children. How about if we take some pictures of cuntene with that french slut and show them to his daughter and ask her what she thinks! And you fucking worthless shitstains responding to the man utd commenter, you have absolutely nothing to say, 18 points behind them, on your knees sucking kroenke’s cock, cupping cuntene’s balls and licking gazidis’ anus. HAHAHAHAHA!

    • Gooner 4 Life   •  

      You crossed the line with your pathetic comment…. I hope u know that

  8. Clockendrider   •  

    Last commenter,
    Your parents must be so proud.

  9. Matthew Teryima Adi   •  

    My God! The language some of us use in the name of comments is appalling. Let’s try and get a hold on ourselves, after all, it’s just a game. Let the madness stop- it’s uncalled for. COYG!!!! Third place is ours to lose.

  10. RedCore   •  

    Steve @ April29 1:15
    The Ramsey / Shawcross incident has been discussed widely and yes some Gooners do go overboard by calling Stoke fans as inbreds and stuff and I guess that adds to the tension.. But it is very rare to see a Stoke fan who puts across his points reasonably without resorting to foul language as you. More of the same is needed from both sides or the media will continue to have a field day ever time the two clubs clash.

    • Steve   •  

      “More of the same is needed from both sides or the media will continue to have a field day ever time the two clubs clash”

      I couldn’t agree more. Let’s hope by the time our two clubs meet next season a LOT of groundwork will have been done to reduce the tension. Here’s hoping!

  11. LJB   •  

    Great comment Steve.I don’t think the Emirates crowd realise that they stirred up the situation by booing Shawcross the first time you played there after the incident.Then when we returned to the Brittania you naturally gave it back and its been like that ever since. A line needs to be drawn under it,but Arsenal fans are STILL petty enough to boo Cole even though he left 6 yrs ago!(how many trophies has he won at Chelsea?how many have we won since then? hmm nuff said.Arsenal fans need to open their eyes and see that the real enemy is the corrupt board of this club who sold all our history and tradition out to make a quick buck.FFS you can’t even buy a pie at the Emirates only fuckin yankee shite.

    • Steve   •  

      Football by it’s very nature is tribal. It brings both the good and the bad together and occasionally it spills over into the sort of events we witnessed at the Brit on saturday.

      I can’t defend the booing of Ramsey – he’s a talent and it’s there for all to see. That a said, I fervently hope that what happened this weekend doesn’t colour events when our teams come up against each other. Let’s just focus on the football however it’s played.

      As for the pies … well we can probably do those better up here! :-)

  12. the boyhill gooner   •  

    nicely put gilberto straight to the point we all dislike stoke and everything to do with them personally i have no respect for them whatsoever happy enough with the point it’s still in our hands.

  13. Ajee Coffee   •  

    booing a victim? pathetic human being!

  14. RVB   •  

    Whatever comes next, we can’t drop any more points. Stop saying it’s in our hands. It always has been. Just grab the damn points with invention and commitment.

    The others know we need the points more than them. Why do they need to attack? It’s nothing new to have 10 men behind the ball against the Arsenal. If we show the same lack of creativity again, we shall have to pray for a UCL place and RVPs signature.

  15. shaun   •  

    Manager Arsene Wenger hopes Vertonghen will form part of a new-look defensive pool next season, with Sebastien Squillaci and Johan Djourou available for transfers away from the Emirates this summer.

    please please let this be true and to be honest I would be happy with just those two signings as it is what we need with the experince required finally wenger appears to be waking up now add some ruthlessness to the mix and cut the dead wood out and we might give ourselfs a chance it has been so annoying as we arsenal fans are not asking a lot just some proper investment in proven quality in the areas we need it

  16. Wegrice Weguamba   •  

    I had a horrible thought that one day, our rivals will start calling Jack Wilshire “Wilshite”. I can think of nothing worse for our lovely little boy with his roguish, puppy-dog grin and peppy attitude.

    I also found out today that Alex Schlong only weighs 73kgs. That’s incredible, because as we all know, 10% of that MUST consist of his downtown attributes.

  17. Bernita Cheatum   •  

    Township Meeting Set For Monday, Regardless of Street Excursion Reduced Pottsgrove commissioners canceled their very last public session on April 19. They aren’t very likely to skip two inside a row, whether or not the board president is on an “international tour.”

  18. Clarisa Tubbs   •  

    Hi,pls want to ask if there is any a single for java,if there is not,pls when will there be

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