Arsenal vs Stoke City, 1-0: Full time analysis and player ratings
Written by Chris on February 24, 2011 0:50
The more the game went on, the more I kept comparing tonight’s match with the away win against Wolves in November.
If my memory serves me right, we were under heavy pressure in the second half of that one as well but Johan Djourou and Sebastien Squillaci were immense at the back and as equally immense were today, clearly demonstrating – as we were discussing two weeks ago – that Sebastien can be solid when needed and that the problems when playing alongside Laurent Koscielny are not necessarily coming just from him.
We all knew what to expect from Stoke City and I am delighted when we play against a rough side and get away with a win as it keeps showing that our players are no longer intimidated by long throw-ins and nasty tackles although in all fairness, and as Arsene said after the game, the game, overall correct, was played in a good spirit.
Granted, we could have easily conceded in the 57th minute when Wojciech hesitated in how to deal with one of Rory Delap throws but to be honest I don’t expect our goalkeeper and defence to be perfect when so much is thrown at them. And having said that, our young goalkeeper was very solid so it would have been harsh on him to be punished for his only mistake of the game.
I was also impressed with Nicklas Bendtner. He did fade away in the later stages of the game but he started like a train, producing three assists to his team-mates including of course the one for the winning goal. Went on to make a very bad tackle on Jermaine Pennant but wasn’t it just days ago that we were critical of the Dane for not trying hard enough? He replaced Robin, one of our most important players of the side, and did well.
And then Andrey Arshavin. His trick to get rid of the Stoke defender in the 64th minute was sublime, a shame Theo was too slow to react to his pass. Speaking of Theo, he also had a fine start like Nicklas but his second half was terrible, way too many wrong decisions such as trying to dribble his way past the Stoke men instead of slowing things down to ease the pressure.
But anyway, we get all three points, move to just one point from the top of the table and can look forward to Wembley’s final with optimism, albeit a couple of injury worries on which we will soon have news, hopefully positive.
As always, whether you agree with my ratings or not, submit your own at Arsenal Interactive and make sure to share them on Twitter and Facebook.
Match Video Highlights
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Szczesny: 7,5 – Made the aforementioned mistake in the 57th minute as he was caught in two minds on how to approach the throw-in but an overall solid performance from our number one, including a great save in the 35th minute to deny Carew.
Djourou and Squillaci: 7,5 – A quick look at my ratings when these two played together show that they are compatible indeed. Yet another rock solid display and believe me, it was not easy to do so well when under so much pressure in the second half.
Clichy: 6,5 – Moments of brilliance, moments of madness. Made a number of very good tackles such as the one in the 48th minute but went to sleep seconds later allowing Jermaine Pennant to cross under no pressure whatsoever. Needless to say, such a lapse in concentration could sometimes prove costly.
Sagna: 7 – I am almost always upset with Bacary’s crosses but when I see him produce solid defensive displays such as this one, I realise that he’s doing his job to perfection. Was one of our best players when under pressure in the final stages of the game as he made a number of vital blocks such as the one to stop Ricardo Fuller in the 87th minute.
Wilshere: 7,5 – I will soon start using the comment “See previous game” to describe Jack’s games. Immense. Every football team needs a player like him as the way he tracked back to defend near our corner flag in the 65th minute and the way he kept his cool to win a corner in the 91st clearly show that this 19-year old has the experience of 30-year old. And let’s not forget that we were dangerous from all his corners, including the first which led to the goal.
Song: 6,5 – Not the best of games for Alex but sit deep and made sure to provide the help our defensive department needed in such a tough game.
Nasri: 6 – Not sure if he’s still not 100% fit due to the hamstring injury but Samir struggled to impose himself in midfield, especially after Cesc went off and had to change his position on the pitch.
Fabregas: No Vote – Shame. Produced the assist for Theo’s 1st minute chance and again a delicious chip to Nicklas minutes later. I believe it could have been a different game had he stayed on the pitch.
Walcott: 5 – Unlucky to hit the post in the first minute of the game but wasteful, way too wasteful as the game progressed. As said in the introduction, he should use his head more when we are under pressure as trying to dribble past defenders as he did in the 59th and 60th minute does not help the defensive department at all.
Bendtner: 7 – Chested the ball beautifully before passing it to Theo in the 2nd minute, again turned provider in the 4th and of course assisted Sebastien for the 7th minute goal. Nicklas needed to deliver today, and he did.
Arshavin: 7 – Top performance from Andrey. Started slowly but improved as the game went on. Again, fantastic piece of skill to get away from his marker in the 64th minute.
Denilson: 5,5 – Same old from the Brasilian, guilty of giving away an unnecessary set-piece in the dying minutes of the game.
Chamakh: No Vote – Did well to help the defensive department and win fouls to calm things down.