After the horror show that Arsenal produced away to Stoke a few weeks ago, which was probably the worst 45 minutes from the Gunners for many a year, it was vital that Arsenal put on a much better showing in front of the Emirates crowd.
And the way we started that game, the Arsenal players would have been determined to begin the game well and we certainly did that. Begovic had already had to prodduce two very good saves from Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky in the opening minutes, but there was nothing their keeper could do to stop Laurent Koscielny scoring with a feee header from Alexis’ cross in the 6th minute.
THey were struggling to cope with the slick passing and link up play of Rosicky, Cazorla, Alexis and co, so they had no chance of putting us under the sort of pressure they do at home. Then with just one defender, Hector Bellerin, on the bench, our injury curse surfaced again, with Debuchy taking a bad knock after being pushed into the hoardings by Arnautovic. You could not make it up!
Wenger made the change quickly but it had knocked us off our stride and it took around 10 minutes before Giroud brought another great save from Begovic. The big Frenchman then came close again but put his shot high and wide. Giroud was also getting some rough treatment from Shawcross and as the ref kept letting it go he was losing his rag.
Then with about half an hour gone and Stoke starting to feel abit more confident, awesome Alexis scored our second with a beautiful run and precise finish with a little help in the build up from Rosicky. Then we nearly lost a second full back before halftime after Monreal was clattered by Crouch and needed a cut stitching up. Still no yellow cards though, even though Stoke admit what their tactics will be when facing Arsenal.
Although Arsenal had not managed to finish the game off, we did so almost straight after the restart, with an Alexis free kick creeping in the near post with a deflection. Now you thought it was all about how many we could score and keeping a clean sheet because Stoke looked beaten.
We produced some brilliant football, without finding another goal, before Wenger brought Walcott on for the Ox with 67 minutes on the clock. And he soon made the final change, Ozil for Giroud. Both subs did pretty well and had decent chances to score, but were understandably a bit rusty. Their time on the pitch will stand them and Arsenal in good stead though.
At least we managed to keep the clean sheet, get our revenge on Stoke and build confidence for the games to come. Now for Man City…..