Arsenal were kicked around the Britannia Stadium by Stoke City as usual, but for once we were patient enough to cope with their winding up tactics, and in the end we won very comfortably. This was the first time that Wenger had beaten Mark Hughes in an away match, and the first time we had won at Stoke since 2010, so it was a great win over another one of our bogey teams.
Wenger was understandably pleased after the game. “I’m pleased with the result of course,” Le Prof said. “but I think we were a team who were dominant, had a good structure in the game, who were patient, intelligent and stuck together in a moment where Stoke tried to make it rough for us. There was a patch in the second half where we had to stick together on a few corners.”
And did he think Stoke were ‘unfairly rough’ “I don’t say that. I think in the first half we were dominant throughout the game but in the second half they made it a bit more physical. We had to find some resources and keep our nerves to continue with the desire to play. We did that well.”
Arsenal are now just one point behind Liverpool, who are now under pressure to get all three points against West Ham tomorrow, so does Wenger think we are right back in the race for the Top Four? “I don’t know.” he replied fairly. “We have 69 points, so let’s focus on making that 72 on Tuesday night. After that we’ll see. I feel that the team looks strong and solid at the moment. Let’s just focus on the quality of our team and continue to develop what we do.”
If Liverpool slip up like Tottenham did last year, then this could count as one of Wenger’s biggest escape from disaster yet. We are ceretainly used to being in this position. Do we dare to hope?