Arsenal Make Their Point Whilst Others Collapse

Stoke City 1 – 1 Arsenal

1 – 0 Crouch (8)
1 – 1 van Persie (15)

On the face of it, a point at Stoke is a disappointing result. Contrary to the claims of Tony Pulis, top six teams do win there and have done this season. In the wider context of the season, the point was a good result leaving Arsenal directly in control of their own destiny; games in hand is an over-rated currency this morning. That might be different by this time next weekend but those are the problems for another day.

Not winning on a day when Newcastle capitulated is a disappointment though. That is compounded by the knowledge that Arsenal had enough of the game to have won. Tempering that is knowing that Chelsea can torpedo Newcastle with a win at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, not quite sinking them but holing their challenge to the extent of them limping over the line. One down, two to go – or in an ideal world, a draw which effectively eliminates both.

Arsenal started brightly. Five minutes in and van Persie was freed by Benayoun, the Dutchman reciprocated but his on-loan colleague shot tamely. Rosicky then clipped in a cross and Begovic scrambled the ball to safety from van Persie’s header. The experienced heartbeat of Arsenal’s midfield was purring, prompting and spikily combatting their less subtle opponents.

And being Arsenal, those misses were duly punished. Little surprise as Crouch buried his header, Szczesny well beaten as the lanky striker was not put under enough pressure to divert his connection.

Any euphoria felt by the home support quickly dissipated as Arsenal recovered quickly, equalising on the quarter of hour mark. It was a simple affair, Rosicky and Benayoun combining to contrive space for the Czech to deliver a cross to van Persie, the Dutchman’s control of the situation taking him into space before delivering his finish. That was his 35th of the season, more than Stoke have managed in the league collectively this campaign. Their threat became neutered.

Gervinho had been causing problems with the directness of his running and twice spurned decent opportunities. If he could add the calmness he showed against Mali for his country, then it is but a short step to twenty goals per season. As it is, his recent appearances hint at returning to the consistency which was rudely interrupted in Winter.

For all of their dominance, Arsenal were not creating a lot of clear openings as the first half peetered out. Equally, Stoke were not troubling the visitors defence, even from their trademark set-pieces. Arsenal were comfortably in control. The second half continued in the same pattern with van Persie unable to beat Begovic with his header. Chances flew over the bar to safety after that whilst Gibbs on a rare foray forward found his route to goal blocked by a neolithic remnant.

Stoke still offered little in response and the match crawled into its final stages. Benayoun combined with van Persie around the Stoke area and as the Israeli ran into the area, contact was made by Whelan with Benayoun going to ground. A penalty? It probably would have drawn a free kick elsewhere which makes the decision not to award the spot kick baffling. That the contact was minimal and in fairness probably not enough to genuinely send Benayoun to ground makes it understandable. That is tempered by Foy not booking the Arsenal player; if he felt it was exaggerated, surely Benayoun was guilty of Ungentlemanly Conduct? OrSimulation. Don’t even go there with that one.

Chances were traded, Jerome for Stoke, Vermaelen for Arsenal before Crouch beat Szczesny to the ball but Sagna produced an excellent defensive clearance, a pure example of why he is the best defender in the Premier League. Sorry Laurent, but he is. This was deemed to be the trickiest of the final three fixtures; Arsenal came through, the disappointment of this season just from knowing that their superiority was beyond their opponents comprehension. When even Pulis admits that Arsenal were the better team, it is a racing certainty that this is the case.

And what of the Stoke supporters. Like many of their counterparts, they are obsessed with the cult of the manager. Arsène noted of the abuse he received at the match,

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.

It could equally be applied to the derision served on Aaron Ramsey who performed admirably under those conditions. Pulis resorted to type by trying to paint Shawcross as the victim rather than the perpetrator. Any ridicule though was delivered to them piercingly and unintentionally, by Gary Lineker. His attempt to ape Stoke humour showed them in all their glory, just how laughable their attempt at humour was.

Back to the cave paintings, apes and orcs.

’til Tomorrow.

200 thoughts on “Arsenal Make Their Point Whilst Others Collapse

  1. i dont mind womens football, fungunner
    its not as watchable as womens beach volleyball but ive seen better football played by the ladies than what i have at certain international comps by the men..

    to be honest that not a bad idea you have there either..

  2. I’d happily watch some women’s football right now.

    Or volleyball.

    And I quite fancy the idea of women’s snooker for some reason ….

  3. spuds were always likely to win this one
    dont panic
    theyve got two away games next v bolton and villa..
    its still not easy..
    and they havent won this one yet..
    all those chances missed
    the yak normally needs one, so…..

  4. Ach – I’ve not given up – just tedious watching them.

    Ronnie – is playing absurd snooker at the mo.

  5. Spuds undeniably on top but Blackburn coming back into it with confidence growing as half time arrives. Definitely not over – 1-0 a dangerous score line and I reckon there will be more goals in it yet …

    Wonder how Jonny’s snooker is going?

  6. I haven’t read all the comments carefully above but picked up generally that there were some big complaints about the MOTD highlights on our match and GL’s comments in particular so I watched the 8-9min segment. I didn’t find it especially bad–the mimicking of AW was certainly unpleasant but not vicious (disrespectful of someone I respect so highly but nothing like the truly disgusting and outrageous pedophile chant from Manc, Spuds and others routinely). I thought GL tried to distinguish between that sort of mockery and the more troubling booing of Aaron Ramsey, which he brought up and AH condemned. AH might have gone into what was so bad about it more specifically (particularly their behaviour during the actual incident and as he was being stretchered off) but at least they highlighted this and condemned it rather than passing over it.

    I have to go back and read comments above more carefully, but perhaps someone can point out for me if I have missed part of the clip or have misunderstood what was especially egregious about the Stoke fans parody of AW or GL’s comments about it?

    I certainly agree that the MOTD program is quite the dinosaur and not so sure it has much value anymore. Very selective editing and compressed picture of the game and not very interesting comments, discussion or analysis. Who would really shed a tear if it were canned or dramatically altered? But I don’t quite get the particular ire about our match? Seemed pretty par for the course–perhaps I am being inured to coverage of Arsenal. We often have Ian Darke and Steve McManaman as commentators for live games out here–and they are pretty horrible, but often a relief as alternatives to Robson. I think Darke is actually a self-confessed Spud.

  7. AA – I’m currently flicking between the two whilst making pasties, tending to my plants and having a cheeky beer.

    Not that I’m convinced you care, but the snooker is as tight as a nuns nasties in one semi and and pretty much game over in the other.

    Trump v Carter 8-7

    Barring a miracle, O Sullivan looks to have wrapped up the other against Williams.

  8. Of more concern is this run Chelsea is on and Torres finding some goal scoring form. Glad RvP got a goal and hope he’ll smash in a few more. We could use the goal difference advantage to help in case we drop points in our last two matches. But it is really vital we win both so that we don’t have to care about what anyone else does. 6 points and we can’t be caught.

    For me, even if we finish fourth and go the the qualifying rounds of the CL, it would be an unfortunate finish given how well we have done to get into 3rd. It would be delightful to finish strong on so many levels and this team deserve the reward of 3rd for battling twice to recover from some bad periods. Hopefully they have it in them to grab two vital wins.

    We would have loved to defeat Stoke at the Brittania, but as some have said, a point and all our limbs intact with no further injuries is reasonably encouraging a result.

  9. Fair play that was a great free kick.

    Blackburn didn’t even bother to turn up today. Bizarre performance, no guts at all.

  10. Unbelievably poor ambition from Blackburn today considering there position in the table & Spur’s form before this game

  11. Frank as my friend alluded I believe they always respond – I greatly look forward to what they have to say in response.

  12. …and there was me thinking that I had impressed them. If everyone gets a ‘thank you’, then they can shove their computer generated ‘thank you’ up their arses. If I get on ‘Points of View’ I will point out that particular point at a key point in the discussion. Fucking bastards.

  13. Limestone

    If you had said when we were languishing in 17th spot that with 2 games left we would need to win them both to finish third, I’d have taken that all day long and twice on Sunday.

    We will smash Norwich (not underestimating them, just that it’s the last home game and the players and fans will be right up for it. Well me and my cousin will be anyways!!) and by the time of WBA, I think 3rd will already be ours regardless anyways.

  14. I would have too, Dex, and that’s why I laud this team for such a brave and spirited performance this year. It would however be unfortunate for all of us after battling to this position not to close out the season in 3rd since we can do it if we win our last two games.

    I hope you are right that we crush Norwich at home–for the three points, to have a thrilling final home match at the Emirates where the atmosphere has improved, and because it sets us up for a good performance away to WBA. Maybe 3rd will already be ours. That’s the best way to go into the WBA game–happy and not under any pressure. So then Robin can just grab a hat trick and waltz off with the Golden Boot as well!

  15. It was some kick Jonny – no-one was expecting that, from so far out; he’s only scored once before today (against us). Up until then Spuds were vulnerable to a smash and grab so it settled things down for them, in the context of the game.


    Limestone – I would say the MOTD episode from last night has to be seen in the context of their performance week in week out over the course of the season(s) which, overall, is never especially good and, as I said, frequently fails to tell the full story of any given game, only a highly selective slice of it.

    With respect to Arsenal’s game yesterday, to avoid showing the Shawcross tackle, given his past violent history, combined with the odious nature of the Stoke fans in general and their deeply unpleasant and frankly astonishing booing of Aaron Ramsey in particular, was an editorial oversight too far.

    That they were able to find time to show the Stoke fans aping AW and a further slot for Linekar to contribute his own disrespectful imitation of someone who has done more for the English game than any other foreigner I can think of, was a jape too far.

    It wasn’t just not funny. It was also really poor judgement and many of us who can recall the programme’s higher standards from years gone by have simply had enough of them.

  16. The goal of the season in RvP’s volley v. Everton. Anything else is just heretical, as far as I am concerned! And worse than heresy when it comes to celebrating a Spud strike, which, as George points out, was deflected as well. Young player of the year, pfft, as Frimpong might say.

  17. @Limestonegunner

    Yesterday I heard Ian Darke say something along these lines in reference to a Stoke player..

    “He went down rather easily there but it is hard for the ref to card him for simulation, you wouldn’t want to label someone a cheat.”

    WTF m8? “You see that rock over there, it definitely is a rock but i’m going to call it a shoe because no one wants to call a rock a rock.”

  18. OK, AA. Thanks for giving further context. I count myself lucky not to see MOTD regularly and agree with the general remarks about their editing and so on. I was frankly surprised that they brought up the Ramsey booing at all and condemned it. If they hadn’t commented on that or noted it while indulging in the Stoke fan mimicry of AW, that would have been really have been over the top–that said, you are right–why was it worth pointing out the Stoke fans’ parody of AW anyway, which wasn’t really anything important in the game but rather gratuitous?

    I think the fact that you have to pay a licence fee gives the BBC a much bigger responsibility to have quality coverage.

    I listen to 5 live football daily and 606 podcasts regularly and am quite astonished at the abdication of journalistic standards. Pougatch, Chapman, Fletcher, Murray–these guys are awful. But having Robbie Savage on? Especially while he was still playing?!?! Jason Roberts, while still playing!?!? Quite apart from the fact that Savage is ridiculous and stupid, wasn’t it a major conflict of interest to have a current player (whether Savage or Roberts) discussing teams in his division and fielding calls from supporters on a general call-in and often on other 5live football programs?

  19. Will, I remember exactly that comment! It was when Crouch dived to try to get penalty very obviously. Amazing stuff–Darke is quite horrible, worse than McManaman but not as teeth-grating as Robson, amazingly.

  20. George ol chAp. I am right with you on that one. Goal of the Season belongs to RVP, with help from alex song. RVP pulled off the goal of the season twice. It wasn’t some lucky volley coming from a corner kick. Still i think that Crouch’s shot or some stupid shit from Looey Suarez will probably garner that accolade.

  21. George, you aren’t alone. I defended your position above and even referred to your comment. I know you martial arts heros like to take a brave position fighting against the odds and all-comers, but let’s not over dramatize your lonely stance, my man. No need for the fake modesty, that you could be wrong–how could you be on purely football quality in terms of deflected goals. Solidarity!

  22. RvP’s was Goal of the Decade.


    There was a touch of the ‘shock and awe’ about Walker’s strike today though; a world class goal coming from an English right back playing for one of the division’s smaller sides. It was as spectacular as it was unexpected and took some courage to even attempt it from that distance. No doubt had Messi, Ronaldo, or Rooney scored it, it would be elevated to something else without too much question …


    The above is a link to the Football Supporters Federation Writers Award for 2012. You can by emailing your choice to, for the following categories:

    The FSF Fans’ Newspaper of the Year award
    The FSF Fans’ Website of the Year award
    The FSF Fans’ Football Blogger of the Year award
    The FSF Fans’ Podcast of the Year award
    The FSF Fans’ Book of the Year award

    Personally I voted for The Guardian, Goonerholic, Big Al, Arsecast and Graham Hunter’s Barcelona book

    The categories I couldn’t think of someone for:

    The FSF Fans’ Football Writer of the Year award (hacks…)
    The FSF Fans’ Fanzine of the Year award (are there any good ones any more?)

  24. So according to the fox soccer specialist folk, Liverpool are close and Arsenal need a whole lot of work. You cannot make it up!

  25. @ JonJon | April 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    i dont mind womens football, fungunner

    I’ve just come round, having fallen off my chair in shock! Good to hear. And I’m sure you’ll be delighted with this news – after years of lobbying, the women’s beach volleyball kit no longer has a maximum allowable amount of material. So they can cover their cheeks up. Yep, I thought that would make you happy!

  26. Irony, Dex, irony.

    I complained about Savage last year when he explained to the world that he was told to kick Arsenal players in games because they were more skilful. I told them that it was a disgrace that our money goes to promulgate and excuse cheating and violent conduct and to employ a thick neanderthal like Savage.

    So they sacked him. No, wait, they fobbed me off with a lot of old tosh.

    Just listened to 606 and Green got a call condemning the booing of Ramsey. Green accepted that and quickly turned it into a joke at Arsene’s expense and then fielded a call from a Stoke fan who told us it was all Arsenal’s fault and that Wenger deserved all the abuse becasue he accused them of being a rugby side.

    Cue Green agreeing with every word, having a good laugh at Arsene and them parting the best of mates. He also thinks that Stoke fans are the best in the league.

    Just off to write another complaint.

  27. @ Paul-N | April 29, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    So according to the fox soccer specialist folk, Liverpool are close and Arsenal need a whole lot of work. You cannot make it up!

    Really? Dearie me. A bit desperate, methinks.

  28. Well Fun, I enjoy women’s football and would watch more but the increase in clothing in beach volleyball is a step too far. One step forward and two back.

    Just off to write another complaint.

  29. Why do people listen to these things? 606, Talkshite – they all seem to be designed to raise one’s blood pressure. Like thumbing through the Daily Mail or watching Made In Chelsea – I don’t need prodding to get riled up by the narrow minded opinions of the bitter and the moronic.

    Alan Green is a sad, old misanthrope. He has one of the best jobs in the world and every week makes it sound like a gulag sentence.

    He’s also a mild, ‘old-fashioned racist’.

  30. Well, I was listening because I was replanting tomatoes and I like to shout at the radio while doing that.

  31. Yeh FunGun, apparently we still need help at the back also and seem so unsure of what we want to do.. We need at least 4 players and to get back to the top and I quote some dude named Keith Costigan, “Liverpool are not as far as off as people think”. The bias is in the US also. Unbelievable to blow wow!

  32. Ah tomatoes. Pesky buggers when you have to replant them!

    I honestly have never listened for more than a few minutes to 606. Never once listened to Talksport.

    I think it’s for the best for all concerned.

  33. From BBC Sport website:

    Bernstein said: “Roy is the only manager we have approached and we remain on course to make an appointment within the timescale we set out.” … Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp had been heavily linked with the England job ever since Capello left the post in February, but the FA has decided to discuss the position with Hodgson, who has previous international experience from his time in charge of Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Finland and is not a complete twat.

  34. Since when did the FA start using common sense? I think I just felt a great disturbance in the force.

    Though, to be fair, it’s possible that was just the pasty I had for dinner.

  35. Ian Darke is a disgrace, does not even pretend to be “impartial” – I could have understood just one comment about Stoke’s style of play being effective in keeping them in the EPL but the number of times that he went on about it just gives some credence to accepting substandard football, and the ignorant Stoke “fans,” – but as someone said yesterday; if you live in what was once voted the worst place to reside in England, what do you have to look forward to in life?
    Not growing tomatoes this year CBob, but the grandson has peas advancing up sticks outside.

  36. “Since when did the FA start using common sense? I think I just felt a great disturbance in the force.”

    I was thinking the same! Is this the start of a widespread outbreak of common sense do you think? Probably not, to answer my own question!

  37. CBob;

    Ha, I kinda guessed you weren’t being entirely serious old chap, just went with it anyways.

    Alan green has history of being a right old diva, throwing his toys out the pram if things don’t go his way. Bit of a nasty bully too, apparantly.

    But I am sure Jonny will tell us he’s had a few glasses of Prosecco with him and he’s the salt of the earth really. 🙂

  38. Yogi;

    Football writers? Gawd knows. Paddy barclay always seems to get the vote on here anyway.

    Anyone but Samuel, or Winter, or any of the cabal that make up the witches coven on the Sunday Slurry.

  39. The justification of stoke’s anti-football is teeped in xenophobia in my opinion. Yesterday’s game is a perfect example of old school british grit vs fancy dan foreign artistry.

    Because we don’t produce enough players of sufficient technique, close control etc STILL, it all boils down to that back in the day, get in their faces, up and at em mentality that has served England sooooo well all these years.

    The fact we still have to think about having 6 foot plus brick shit houses in the team to counter this antequated bollocks is really sad. The media and hacks would love it for the league and national team to be full of talented technical players but that is not the case and so they have to big up stoke and revel in any victory they might achieve against the polar opposites of the clogging twats.

  40. Dex @9.22
    “Alan green has history of being a right old diva, throwing his toys out the pram if things don’t go his way. Bit of a nasty bully too, apparantly.

    But I am sure Jonny will tell us he’s had a few glasses of Prosecco with him and he’s the salt of the earth really”

    Jonny @7.41
    “Alan Green is a sad, old misanthrope. He has one of the best jobs in the world and every week makes it sound like a gulag sentence.

    He’s also a mild, ‘old-fashioned racist’.”

    ?! :0P

  41. You guys will glad to know that we are not the only groups of fans who suffer from group paranoia. Someone asked a question on a texas rangers (american baseball) blog if the New York Yankees got favorable treatment from the umpires. I copied and pasted the response below.

    “Of course they do. This is one of the major reasons you will never see ball and strikes auto called. MLB wants the Yanks to win, so the rules are written to favor them and the calls that are subjective favor them. When a team (the Rangers for example) finds a way to overcome this with talent acquisition, the rules are changed (the recent changes made in the Latin American market) to close the loophole and change the balance of power back to money (the Yanks). But the study of balls and strikes would be a good study piece.

    April 29, 2012 at 2:54 PM | David C”

    sounds like something we would say about ManU. Fans of every sport in the world think the same thing about the dominant team or teams and always have.

  42. Bill

    Thanks for posting that, I think.

    Was just about to post my thoughts on the fact that in the penultimate games of the season, Man City have to play before manU, which for me is shocking. I say this from bitter experience of the 99 season when our penultimate game was the day before United’s. We went for the win, got caught out and lost one nil, while united only drew 0-0. A draw would have done us, yet because we played first we had to assume they would win.

    Basically the games should be played at the same time, so no team gets an advantage.

  43. I don’t quite grasp why most of the English media and pundits seemingly search to point out negative perspectives about Arsene and Arsenal.

    Even if Arsenal were successful by winning CL and EPL (in the same season), I’m guessing that the belittling and criticism would continue and possibly ratcheted up.

    Is their resentment fueled by their dislike of Arsene’s personality or nationality?

  44. George

    I know we are such good chums. What’s that pet name you have for me, i forget?

    Oh yeah, cunt. Sooooo sweet!

  45. All we need to know about Pulis’ side came when at 1-1 playing at home he substituted Upson for Shotton and moved Robert Huth to right back. Yes, right back!

  46. Passenal – I’m working on the theory that this moment of clarity and sense nearly cancels itself out – after all they have just got rid of one of the most successful England managers ever and have narrowly avoided making themselves look even more stupid – by appointing someone respected and sensible.

    And by NOT appointing a deeply, deeply unskilled moral vacuum with like a sack full of doorknobs.

    I have to say I like Roy. If the press savage him like dogs – and they will – I will find International football even more depressing and distasteful than I usually do.

  47. You can deny it all you want Dexter ,but you and JonJon are my best Arsenal pals.
    You might not like it .but you are stuck with it.

  48. George

    I know mate, you know I love you really.


    I Might need a few more goes at it man. I was just messing coz you were goin on about Beeb pals earlier.

  49. How Spurs could have done with the FA making that announcement when Cappello left the job …

    Talk about unwinding.

  50. I would have thought that if you plant tomatoes properly in the first place you wouldn’t have to replant them.

    Anyway if Roy Hodgson is going to be the England manager I might consider supporting them. Well a bit anyway. Can’t stand the idea of supporting the same team as Stoke supporters.

  51. George;

    I just thought if you knew that what you guys go thru worrying about the refs and ManU is very common to sports fans everywhere and it should not be considered pathologic. Medications and therapist are expensive so hopefully I have saved you some money.

  52. Well ‘Ingerland’ then. They were singing ‘Sweet Chariot’ at the game on Saturday. Fucking hate that song for a number of reasons. Stoke is NF Central is it not?

  53. Sweet Chariot is a song linked to rugby; this is their way of reveling in their club’s appalling reputation.

  54. …oh and this covering up of cheeks thing. I think that it is about time that the Olympic movement insisted that all athletes should be completely naked. For the sake of authenticity. I am a traditionalist in these matters.

  55. Good write-up, YW.

    Having finally watched replays of the two incidents I mentioned yesterday (Benayoun penalty shout and Shawcross tackle), I feel that I am now ready to become a Premier League referee.

    I got one right (the penalty shout – it would have been a soft one), one mostly wrong (the Shawcross tackle – he got the ball and he jumped in with one foot, not two as I had thought; it was high-risk but not, I guess, a foul) and I missed one completely (the Shawcross hand-ball on the edge of the area to stop TV5’s shot that looked like it would have been a goal).

    Now that I have established my credentials, where do I sign up? What’s that? Only United fans need apply?! *#~&@!

  56. Hopefully Stoke will finally do the decent thing and be relegated next season. I hate going there, the hatred and potential for violence is palpable man.

    And thats just from the women.

  57. MUCH clearer thanks! Why didn’t you say so? There’s no need to be coy.

    But yeah guilty – I have several friends who work for the BBC. None of them are famous though!

    In the interest of complete disclosure, I also have friends who are GPs – does that make me a doctor loving twat also?! 😛

  58. The Delap thing is an abomination. Drying balls with a towel before a throw in should be illegal. But more to the point why oh why does no-one understand that it is almost impossible to defend a long throw into the box for one simple reason…….you can’t be offside from a throw? They can receive the ball in what would normally be an offside position. Stick three monstrous fuckers who have never kicked a ball in their lives on the goal line and there is a fair chance that they will score.

  59. “Anyway if Roy Hodgson is going to be the England manager I might consider supporting them. Well a bit anyway. Can’t stand the idea of supporting the same team as Stoke supporters.”

    I know! especially if he picks a few Arsenal players and JT and Lamps get dropped (preferably from a great height!)

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