Gunners put pay to the Potters
Written By: Robert Halter
The acquisition of Spanish left back Nacho Monreal from Malaga before the close of the transfer window, added to the Arsenal squad in time for the home fixture with Stoke City, beginning of February. Back in August, the Gunners picked up a point in a goalless draw at the Potters’ Britannia Stadium but to maintain their push for a top four finish, a win for Arsenal was vital in the return match at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners gave a debut to Monreal with Mikel Arteta given the captain’s armband. On thirty one minutes an in swinging corner by Jack Wilshere was met by an incisive strike by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and it took a goal line clearance by the Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic to keep the ball out with a leg saving stop. Five minutes later, Begovic was back to his best with a body block to keep out a well timed header from Laurent Koscielny, after Theo Walcott had put the cross over. In the forty first minute, Wilshere sent the ball to Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose well struck effort had to be palmed away to safety by Begovic at full stretch. At the end of the first half a nasty gash on the head of Jonathan Walters after an aerial clash with Monreal, left the Potters with two players wearing head bandages as Walters joined Robert Huth. Arsenal made a double substitution midway through the second half replacing Oxlade-Chamberlain for Lukas Podolski and taking off Abou Diaby for Santi Cazorla. After a foul by Andy Wilkinson on Walcott in the seventy eighth minute, Podolski managed to find a way through the Stoke wall to break the deadlock with a left footed free kick which deflected off the Potters’ Geoff Cameron but there was an agonising wait as referee Chris Foy consulted his linesman David Bryan before awarding the goal. Two minutes later, Cazorla could have wrapped the game up after finding an opening in the Stoke defence but after latching onto a rebound, Cazorla fired over. A three way Potters substitution saw Kenwyne Jones replace Peter Crouch, then Cameron Jerome take over from Walters and finally Michael Owen come on for Geoff Cameron. In stoppage time the Gunners brought on Aaron Ramsey for Walcott. But despite the changes in personnel, the score remained the same as the Gunners overcame the Potters by a solitary goal.