Massive massive win for us as again we were left to play against not only Stoke but the referee, who made his intentions very clear when the second half started. I know no one is going to talk about the biased refereeing in this game because we won the game. Still it was so evident that I was wondering whether the FA is blind or just incompetent. The ref did all he could to help stoke, except yes he didn’t get the chance to gift-wrap Stoke a goal but credit to Arsenal who kept it tight at the back through some brave defending. I also know most will not agree but as soon as the second half started, the attitude of the Stoke players and referee changed all together. Here again credit to Arsenal for not conceding a goal because had we conceded, the ref will have continued with his biased refereeing and our complaints would have meant nothing. For example, Carew’s foul on Djourou in the second half was late and I felt it was deliberate and IMO that was a red card and anyone not agreeing needs to see it again with open eyes. There were many others including fouls on Walcott, Nasri and Sagna where the ref did nothing. The commentary itself was unbelievable as they made the Stoke player look like angels. It was like no one wanted us to win match.
Anyways, I will come to the performance as this will end up somewhere else if I continue.
It was again a game where we dominated the possession but upfront we didn’t create much. In the middle we moved the ball around well but just couldn’t open Stoke up as they defended well at times. We also didn’t finish the few chances we created. Fabregas’ departure IMO opinion affected our game plan a lot.
The defenders did a great job out there as they held up against Stokes rugby. The midfield and the forwards played their part in it as well as we showed great character in the second half to thwart the tactics of Stoke and the help they were getting from the ref.
Coming to player ratings:
A solid 10 to all the players for being resolute till the very end and for getting another win against a side being helped blatantly by the referee.
Szczesny: Great keeping from the young man. He commanded his area well and made a couple of excellent saves. Was confident on the set pieces and throw ins. Made an error on one occasion but thankfully we weren’t punished for it.
Sagna: Excellent defensive display as he made several important tackles and blocks. Upfront provided the necessary width but didn’t influence much.
Djourou: Great game from him as he demonstrated again his aerial dominance and reading of the game. Was alert on the set pieces and showed good awareness.
Squillaci: He also had an excellent game. Defensively was superb with his positioning and showed good strength as he didn’t allow anyone to get past him easily. He also scored the important goal as again his positioning was very good on that occasion.
Clichy: Solid again. A couple of times was caught out of position but overall did well. He too provided the necessary width upfront but couldn’t influence the game much.
Wilshere: Another outstanding performance from the young Englishman. He is impressing with every game as he showed his defensive intelligence and how well he is in taking corners. Moved the ball around well and didn’t give away possession and showed good work rate.
Song: Another typical Song performance, strong and full of energy. Did give away possession a few times but overall did his job. Upfront didn’t get things going.
Fabregas: I hope he makes it for the final on Sunday as he was substituted in the opening minutes. Still in that very less time, he delivered in some excellent balls. When he was on, we looked more threatening as a team as we went a bit flat after his departure
Nasri: Was impressive in bits and pieces as he failed to make much impact. However, kept the ball well especially in the final minutes when we were under a lot of pressure.
Bendtner: A great response by the Dane as he gave an improved performance from last time. Rather, yesterday he did show some end product for his talks off the pitch. His positioning was good and showed good strength against the Stoke defenders. His assist was both excellent and intelligent.
Walcott: As always was a continuous threat whenever he had the ball. Struck the post in the opening minutes but should have scored on Arshavin’s pass in the second half. However, his decision making was not good at times. As for his injury, he is going to miss the final but I hope he returns for the Barcelona match.
Arshavin: The first of the forced substitutions made by Wenger. He did very well after coming on. Made a couple of very good runs and should have had an assist had Walcott scored on his pass. In the final minutes combined really well with Nasri in keeping the ball. He could have also gotten a goal had he been alert to Nasri’s pass in the final minute of the stoppage time.
Denilson: The second of the forced substitution and as usual he continued with his side ways passing. Not complaining much as it helped us keep the possession last night.
Chamakh: Provided defensive cover but had little time to make an impact upfront.
That’s it for now. Have a great day and keep the faith as this title race is going to have many twists and turns.