I feel lucky that I got this job, anyway here we go
Arsenal faced Stoke again, with towel thrower Delap once again providing harm, and also seeking out our bad defending from set pieces. And we were starkly reminded of how terrible injuries can be with Shawcross delivering a terrible, horrific tackle on Ramsey and that’s an understatement.
But Arsenal struck back on the half hour using a perfect weighted cross from Fabregas, setting up Bendtner with pin-point accuracy as Bendtner’s header was hit up and over Thomas Sorenson, and into the back of the net.
And in a moment of inspiration Fabregas had a penalty and set up Vermaelen in the final minutes of the game.
The Gunners had Almunia in goals, with Sagna, Campbell (starting his first Premiership game this season), Vermaelen and Clichy back, Song in his normal position at Defensive Midfielder, Eboue, Fabregas, Ramsey and Nasri in the middle, and finally Bendtner up front.
It wasn’t exactly 4-5-1 though, Nasri and Eboue had a more advanced role than the other midfielders.
And as with Stoke, anything was unexpected. Stoke had a lot of early pressure on Arsenal, both on defense and attack, with the Gunners not getting a touch. Delap had a few towel throw ins, and his 3rd one, terror went into the box. Delap’s throw met Shawcross in the far post, it was headed to Pugh who bundled the ball past the line for his first ever Premier League goal.
Arsenal had fallen victim to Delap once again.
Arsenal, after the goal, was unable to get their game going, as Delap was still scaring the defenders with throw ins with his best mate, the blue towel. It was generally to and fro football, with both sides able to get down their opponent’s ends but good defending and aggressive and pressing play by Stoke made nothing of the chances.
And just when we were thinking the game was lost, Fabregas comes up with an answer, providing a great cross from the right to Bendtner, with him able to chip Sorenson on his header and guide it in for the equaliser.
For the rest of the half, it was more of the to and fro football with no chances created.
In that half there were very rare glimpses of what Arsenal could do, but were we bluntly reminded what Stoke could do with the scores locked at 1-1, and the red and white of Stoke entertaining Britannia stadium.
The second half started, and immediately Arsenal replied with action of their own, the first ending dramatically with Ramsey fouled in the box, but no penalty. The second was a good string of passing around Stoke’s box that again came to no goal.
It was the beginning of a vicious cycle with Stoke as the victim as Arsenal build a good passing game, a killer pass goes into the box, Stoke thump it clear and it goes back to the Gunners that begin all this again.
There wasn’t a goal from all the chances that we made, and Stoke were being chipped away bit by bit.
Ryan Shawcross hacked down Ramsey. Shawcross was sent off and in tears, Ramsey on a stretcher and off the ground. Enough said. It was terrible, terrible. Rosicky came on for Ramsey.
Arsenal lost some of our fire as a result, and it seemed that many were happy for a draw, and couldn’t see us getting another goal. Eduardo went on for Nasri, which almost seemed inappropriate because of the similar challenge on Eduardo a few years back.
Our fire was coming back, and a welcome sign waved for seven minutes to be added on, and in the 89th minute, came the breakthrough. Handball in the box, penalty.
Fabregas, reliable as always, did it for Arsenal, the 3 points and Ramsey. Goal, bottom right corner.
Literally moments later came an Arsenal corner, Fabregas to take it. He passed to Eduardo, he rolled it to Fabregas, passed to Rosicky. He took a shot from just outside the box that Sorenson parried. Fabregas then chased it, squared it to Vermaelen who finished for the 3 goals, and 3 points.
This game will be remembered for our inspirational fightback, and to Ramsey, his injury at the moment uncertain, but what is certain is that the firepower, the fight, and the courage is still in Arsenal whatever Stoke, Delap and his best mate blue towel can throw at us.
This match was one of the best this season, the title is up for grabs now.
As written by GPS Justin on the GoonersWorld forum