Stoke City v Arsenal – GW2

Good evening all,

Following on from last weeks fascinating encounter with Leicester I had been looking forward to playing Stoke all week (I know right).

We beat them comfortably at the tail end of last season although they were certainly in holiday mode so not too much confidence should be taken from that.

However, I felt that until they announced Jese that they’d had a pretty average transfer window. Having let go Arnautovic who’s a prick as well as Walters and Whelan to name but a few they hadn’t really done much to replace them so I was quietly confident.

I just wanted to discuss a few things I noticed throughout the game.

First half performance

I felt in the first half with the scores level Stoke were a lot more expansive in their play without over committing. This meant that although they posed a threat, it worked in our favour because were able to get into good attacking positions and carve out a number of chances.

Ultimately, the lack of chances that came to Lacazette cost us as I’ve no doubt he would’ve finished the chance Welbeck had where he shot straight at Butland’s chest.

Second half performance

At half time I imagine Wenger would’ve been minded to advise the players to do more of the same.

There were one or two moments where a lapse of concentration or lack discipline had almost cost us but for the most part we were okay and had we continued in the same way Stoke should’ve tired and afforded us more space.

So, we done the same thing. We won the ball and played it into Xhaka. Ramsey ran off looking for the ball in behind as if we were some kind of counter attaching team. Xhaka gave the ball away cheaply (seemed to be the norm for him in this game). He then tried to atone for his error and went charging in to win it back – it’s worth bearing in mind that last season Xhaka would’ve given away afoul here – unsuccessfully and was bypassed easily.

Jese received the ball, drove into the box, received a pass from Berahino and we conceded. Just like that we get punished.

From here on we never really got back to the same standard we achieved in the first half as Stoke now had the licence to sit and make it harder for us.

We huffed, we puffed and we just couldn’t blow their house down.

Xhaka and Ramsey

This is about the only midfield partnership I think we have that can work which is something that can be discussed another time.

Since changing to a back three Ramsey and Xhaka have had more good games together than they have had poor which is promising.

However, last season when our backs were against the wall we saw a much more disciplined partnership than the one we saw against Stoke.

Xhaka was never really caught out of position on too many occasions but he doesn’t have to be because he is so slow most players can jog past him.

Instead, his problem was his distribution, he just didn’t seem to know how to pass or who he was meant to be passing to throughout the whole game and I think this was the reason for Wenger taking him off.

Ramsey’s issues against Stoke are not new as he’s always been considered a player who likes to roam around the pitch as if he is some sort of God.

Granted, he puts himself about and I think the fact that he made more tackles than any other Arsenal player is testament to that but he simply neglects his duties on such a frequent basis that it needed to be addressed.

With three defenders sitting back he should be afforded the licence to roam but he has to be more sensible when doing so. When we pick the ball up in our own half he should not be beyond our striker before we’re out of our half, in that instance the counter attack should be led by our forward three of Lacazette, Ozil and Welbeck on the day.

When the ball is being played around Stoke’s penalty area then by all means look to make a run towards the by line to drag a defender out of position and create space for the rest of the team.

We’ve a whole week to rectify the issues from the Stoke game before we head to Anfield for what should prove to be an end to end game.

Arsenal have scored 4 goals in 2 games as have Liverpool. Neither team give a shit about defending so expect a nice and dull 0-0 guys.

I’ll be back after that to discuss the fallout from that game.

Have a great week.

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