A bit like Liverpool, you are left wondering, was it two points dropped, or one point gained?
Away to Stoke City is never an easy game. In the 9 games since Stoke got promoted to the Premier League, Arsenal have won just once at the Britannia. Losing 5. So far this season, Stoke have beaten Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United at home.
So a 0-0 draw, when we were without Sanchez, Ozil, Cazorla, Welbeck, Wilshere & Coquelin, in the freezing cold, is not a bad result.
Where it is a bad result is on the back of a draw at Liverpool.
That now puts us without a win in 2 games. With a game at home to Chelsea next up, that could easily become no win in 3. In a game where momentum and winning runs is so important, no wins in 3 would be presented as a bit of a mini-crisis, a dip in form.
Despite that, it is a hard run. Draws away to Liverpool, away to Stoke City, and (potentially) at home to Chelsea are, on their own, decent results. Good points earnt. But put together in consecutive games will change the press narrative.
Look at it another way, our title challengers this season are Manchester City.
They have so far played Stoke City and Liverpool once. They have two defeats. 0 points. We have played both sides twice. 1 win, 3 draws. 5 points. So even if Manchester City win both their remaining games against Liverpool & Stoke, it is only a net gain of 1 points over us. Not too bad when you think who disappointed we might feel over the last two results.
The other positive is that it is one less away game left this season. We not have just 7 away games remaining. Manchester City have 9.
Our home and away form has been excellent. Man City’s away form has been poor. The way games fall could be crucial to the title run in.
There has been a lot of discussions about songs since the Stoke game.
In the first case, we have Stoke City. Once again, they booed Aaron Ramsey’s name, sung songs about him, cheered Ryan Shawcross, and the sponsors once again named Shawcross as Man of the Match.
I have previously given my opinion on this ‘abuse’ and do not have a problem with it.
Stoke fans actually show themselves up as being a bit of a joke. Firstly trying to start off “Stand up if you hate Arsenal” – it was the only time other than Delilah that there fans actually made any half decent noise. Then way the way they have responded to Arsenal fan’s having a go at them for abusing Ramsey.
They say Arsenal fans are being oversensitive with the issue. That we are being pansies. Yet the reason they say they abuse Ramsey is because he did not accept Shawcross’s apology. His hand shake. Did not respond to his text.
How sensitive do you want to be? It is the footballing equivalent of “I’m not your friend anymore”. Stoke fans need to man up. Admit they abuse Ramsey because they have deep rooted anger issues. Not because Ramsey refused to accept an apology from a player who nearly ended his career.
And if the later is the real reason for the abuse, it is the Stoke fans who need to be a little bit less sensitive over the issue.
The second part of ‘song gate´ is the supposed stealing of a West Ham song which fans sang about Mesut Ozil. I am not going to go into the debate too much, but both sides of the argument can be found quite easily on Twitter. Will be interested to here what side of the argument you all fall down on.
Should we only be coming up with our own, unique songs? Or is it a case of every song in football is stolen from someone else? Whether it be another Premier League side, a lower league side, or Europe?
Back to the Stoke City game, it was a drab 0-0 draw, lit up by the performance of the two goal keepers.
Petr Cech is a world class keeper. It makes me wonder how many more trophies would we have won had we been able to sign him back in 2002 when his work permit was rejected.
At the other end, it Jack Butland properly impressed me. A few have dug out Olivier Giroud for 2 misses (the usual suspects) but it was two brilliant saves to stop him.
Here is a kid who is getting better and better. Still just 22 (23 in March – does that make him 23 now? I get confused). Everyone has known about his talent for years. Anyone who has read the brilliant Nowhere Men would have been well aware of his talent, and what scouts up and down the country thought of him.
Moving to a smaller side like Stoke was good for his career, as it mean game time. But he surely can not be too far from a move to a bigger club. If De Gea leaves Manchester United, I can see him going there, or if Liverpool look for an upgrade on Mignolet, that is another option.
Could Arsenal perhaps to a deal for him similar to what Stoke did when signing him from Birmingham? Pay upfront for Butland now, but he does not join the club for 2 or 3 years? By that time Cech will be 36, Butland 25 and probably England’s number one. It would be an investment worth doing.
There was no shagging this weekend. Although I am sure somewhere in Stoke, someone shagged their sister.