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Arsenal Versus Stoke: Sparky’s Magic Piano

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The last time we enjoyed an extravagant midweek score and performance in the Champion’s League we returned to earth with a bump at the weekend. Despatching a Ludogorets side (which has proven to be far better than the naysayers ever suggested) with style and six of the best, we returned to face Middlesbrough at the Emirates. Most of us were salivating at the prospect of more of the same but instead were treated to an hour and half’s frustration as the team from the North east put in as organised and determined a defensive display as one could hope to see.

Stoke City have the potential to pose similar problems today. Sitting in the middle of the table they are well used to frustrating more illustrious opponents and on occasions even embarrassing them. I’m hoping that the experience against ‘boro will stand the team in good stead although to be fair we didn’t fail to beat them due to a lack of effort, we just had an off day.

The team Stoke will face today are in very good form both individually and collectively and the confidence with which they went about their work on Wednesday will surely inform the way they go about it today. Alexis is the outstanding player at the moment playing with the kind of verve and audacious invention which cannot help but remind us all of heroes from a bygone era.

Like everyone else his partnership with Özil has tempted me into comparisons with the days of the Henry/Bergkamp axis. I’ve decided not to go down that particular avenue of analogy simply because I’d rather enjoy the here and now. Also I have a sneaking suspicion that there is mischief in the motivation of those drawing such parallels. Set our players a ridiculously high bar and they can easily be dubbed as failures should they fail to clear it.

Now I know there are some of you who enjoy the comfortable indulgence of middle brow middle ground moral superiority and will see such thoughts as more evidence of an unhinged paranoid fantasy. It is what makes Positively Arsenal such a broad church and far from decrying your chosen position I salute your ability to shuck off and dismiss the mounting evidence all around you. However when each month brings a new media campaign against our club it is surely forgiveable if some of us begin to question much of what is said about us.

The Black November stories have now been replaced with the destabilising ‘want away stars’ transfer stories. I can only assume the hope is any drop in form from our leading lights will result in negative reactions on the terraces and online. The stick to beat them has been provided and already I’ve read comments comparing Sanchez with Van Persie so it seems to be working.

The manager and the players have to cope with this phenomenon as best they can and just get on with their jobs. It must surely bring at least a rueful smile when they see the Heroic Harry headlines which accompanied Spurs ignominious exit from the Champion’s League. Still, overcoming adversity is part of the make up of all top sportsmen and if they can shrug it off so must we. Like the penalty embargo and opposition players being allowed to kick ours with impunity, it is wrong, unfair and there is bugger all we can do but suck it up. Or pretend it isn’t happening. It’s all about your chosen coping strategy I suppose.

Hopefully Stoke will come to play football and not kick their way to a point. I confess I’ve not seen much of them this season but in the interest of research and because I’ve been too ill to move from the chair I spent a little time catching up with their last couple of matches. In Arnautovic, Adam and Shawcross they have some renowned brutality to call upon if they sense any slackness from the referee. However Shaquiri and Allen are both skilful, capable players, and this isn’t the same one dimensional Stoke side we once knew.

Mark Hughes suggested Shawcross may not travel to London today so that’s encouraging. He also seemed confused when interviewed as to why his team can win at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, but not the Emirates. I suspect it’s down to them scoring less goals than us but I’m not an expert and lack his experience in the game. Stoke have been attempting to emulate the Welsh national teams 3-4-3 formation which served them so well in the Euros this summer. Asked whether this experiment would continue against Arsenal Hughes suggested that his tactics might be dictated by the players he had available to him.

So much for research. The simple fact is top teams don’t react to their opponents. Rather they try to impose their own style of play onto the match forcing the other side to adapt. Whatever the tactical approach Arsène will have seen it before and the players have the experience to deal with it. I sometimes wonder if confidence and current form don’t play a bigger role in any case. I’m not suggesting that if you played nine up front and one in midfield that it would all work out as long as the team was feeling chipper that day, just that there are more variables at play than how the line up looks on paper.

Anyway, the kettle has boiled and I need another Lemsip so I’m going to shuffle off back to bed and leave you to enjoy your Saturday. Here’s to three points and some scintillating football. See you at three.

 

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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128 comments on “Arsenal Versus Stoke: Sparky’s Magic Piano

  1. PGMOL: “It’s OK. Nobody’s noticed these penalties we’re giving. And, of course, the media won’t comment. Keep at it, boys. Sooner or later you’re bound to win a match.”

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  2. Merlot, not sure the pens are working, would expect red cards to key players maybe even with penalties as the next step!

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  3. Stew, why did you have to join the paid ranks? The workplace, is full of the flu’ bug!

    Get well soon. As Passenal explained, a good win for the Arsenal, is a bug curer.

    As for Ramsay, the local paper for Stoke, claimed that a blade of grass caused the damage. Even that Ferguson fellow, had to text Shawcross, to commiserate!

    COTG, the stats, are never wrong? Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Man United and Spurs. All, ever present in the Premier League. Aston Villa, a stat quirk?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Theo “hasn’t got a football brain” Walcott

    Club Career Games 383, Goals 100

    4 top flight seasons where he has scored 10 or more goals, best season 21

    Chris “slag whatever Arsenal player I want” Waddle

    Club Career Games 734. Goals 148

    5 top flight seasons, including one in France, where he scored 10 or more goals, best season 16 goals

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  5. Sports PR Company ‏@SportsPRCompany 4h4 hours ago
    Today’s goal was @theowalcott 10th of the season, 50th at the Emirates and 100th club goal #AFCvSCFC

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Steve Gooner ‏@Merse10 6h6 hours ago
    Why is time wasting only an offence in the last 5 minutes of a game? sooner it’s punished the quicker it stops

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ironically mason time wasted when he spoke to the keeper about time wasting and then didnt book him. Then Mezut stopped him time wasting when he scored the next goal in the next move.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. pundits like to say you can judge from a players reaction on a decision, well xhaka’s reaction to the penalty was to look round to see who had committed a foul elsewhere in the area, he was flabbergasted that it was his challenge that was called,

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  9. by the way, was it Mason who sent off Xhaka earlier in the season. did xhaka sleep with his wife or something

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I had to larf at all the Orc fans going mental about our time wasting – they just don’t get it do they

    Liked by 3 people

  11. just seen an ad from yahoo, one of those 6 life tips, and one jumped out, not for myself, but for that mob on AFTV and the uber bloggers

    psychologists agree on venting that bottling things up can do damage, but ranting only leads to more anger

    Like

  12. reports that Carl Jenkinson is set for a loan move to Aston Villa in January.

    Like

  13. ArsenalAndrew ‏@ArsenalAndrew 13m13 minutes ago
    Yes, @BBCMOTD ignores Adam’s deliberate stamp but give us frame by frame analysis of Xhaka’s accidental elbow.

    Poor, weak coverage.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Mirror says chelsea facing points deduction as this is their 5th charge of failing to control their players in the last 18 months.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/chelsea-facing-points-deduction-punishment-9430663

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  15. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2016/12/10/arsenal-working-psychologist-turned-blacks-world-cup-winners/

    Looks like the club may have enlisted some valuable help on the mental toughness front

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  16. just watched the highlights on arsenal player and its so obvious that charlie adam purposely stood on Alexis, they show several different camera angles of the build up,

    no surprise that the likes of MOTD ignore it, and sky are running with “should Xhaka have been sent off for his elbow on Allen”, so we know what their agenda is.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. by the way the camera from behind the goal best shows the effort made by adam to step on alexis

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  18. He’s a ****.
    He’ll get away with it. When he finally nails Sanchez he’ll get a knighthood. ****!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I hope we can get 40 points by 19 games. (Maybe more).
    Second half of season:
    Let’s assume 5 wins from bottom 6
    2 wins from top 5, and a couple of draws.
    6 wins from mid table 8.
    That would be close to winning a title,
    Provided other rival teams cancel each other out.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Winning the league at white hart lane looks like it could actually happen.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Fuck it, I’m booking my hotel in Cardiff for 3rd June tomorrow.

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  22. DC if we win the league at shite hart line it will be the third time and so we will get to keep it

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  23. ok wheres a5 ive got to go out soon

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Who the fuck would want to keep WHL? Even they dont want it

    Liked by 2 people

  25. New post up

    Like

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