Three first half goals from Peter Crouch, Bojan and Walters was enough for Stoke City to claim a 3-2 victory over Arsenal, who were reduced to 10-men late in the game after Calum Chambers was sent off after picking up his second yellow of the game. The Gunners mounted a stirring fight back in the second half thanks to goals from Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey, but were unable to bring it on level terms as they lost ground on the race to a top four finish.
Here are the major talking points from the game.
Bojan bamboozles the Gunners
When Stoke City Bojan Krkic from Barcelona for £3 million, they knew that they were getting a steal. A player who came through Barcelona’s famous youth academy and was compared to Lionel Messi in his formative years was going to play in the West Midlands for a club that was not too long ago described as a long-ball side.
Against Arsenal, the Spanish international showed just why he might be one of the steals of the season as he tore the Gunners defence apart from the first minute. Whether it was picking the defence open with a precise through ball or dribbling past them, Bojan did it with consummate ease. In fact, he was unlucky that he finished with just one goal, as he would’ve had a hat-trick if it weren’t for a couple of disallowed, one of which shouldn’t have been.
Sanchez unable to save Arsenal
This was always coming. So far this season, the Gunners have looked a world away from the side that the League for the most part of last season, but are yet within touching distance of a top four slot. And the main reason for that has been Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean forward has settled into life at the Emirates like a duck to water. The 25-year-old has been carrying the Gunners on his shoulders so far and things were always going to be tricky when he has an off day.
Against Stoke, Sanchez had one of those days, which have been so rare that the Gunners had begun to think that he was infallible. Unfortunately for the visitors, their main attacker didn’t have the best of games and didn’t help that their best striker of the season so far started on the bench and only came in the second half. Add to that some atrocious defending and some silly mistakes at the back, it meant that the Gunners suffered their third away game of the season and Wenger has once again failed to get the better of Stoke at the Britannia.
Gunners’ Britannia woes continue
From the very first minute onwards, it looked as though the Gunners hadn’t done their home work on Stoke. Although the Gunners hadn’t conceded in their last three games since their loss to Manchester United, it never looked as though they were going to keep that record intact at the Britannia, a stadium where they have won just once in the last four years that Stoke have been in the top flight.
In the first half, it just looked as though the home side wanted to win the game more, even though they were coming on the back of back-to-back defeats at the hands of Liverpool and Manchester United. Although the Gunners tried to mount a comeback in the second half, the only reason that was possible was because the home side were wrongly disallowed a goal that would have made it 4-0. Arsenal’s mental fragility was on hand yet again to ensure that just when things are starting to look, they look bleak again.