After a somewhat disappointing draw against Sunderland, the stage was set for another grueling encounter for Arsene Wenger and his Red Army.
The Gunners braced themselves to visit a ground that they had managed to record a meager four points from their last four visits: the dreaded Brittania Stadium.
Stoke almost drew first blood when Peter Crouch cushioned a header to Jon Walters. It dispatched his effort goalwards, but the offside flag spared Arsenal’s blushes.
Chances in the first half were few and far between. There were some long range efforts from Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla and Stoke’s Michael Kightly, with both efforts saved with consummate ease by both goalies.
The second half was a familiar story as both sides showed off their sloppiness.
A scary moment arrived when Kieran Gibbs was adjudged to have fouled John Legend. Jermaine Pennant in the box but the ref was having none of it. I’m pretty sure that it might have been a different outcome if it was Eden Hazard.
Olivier Giroud had a great chance in the box to give Arsenal the lead when he was unmarked in the box.
However, he chose to go for the spectacular when he had enough time to control the ball before blasting at goal. It was reminiscent of the defense-splitting pass Cazorla handed him against Sunderland; but he rushed his effort and a good chance went begging.
A rush of blood to the head I guess.
Giroud almost put his name on the back pages when he attempted an audacious speculative effort late on. His long-range shot skimmed the roof of the net to go over the bar.
That act irked Arsene Wenger in the dugout, as he knew that Aaron Ramsey was in a better position to score; he had made a lot of ground in anticipation of a pass from Giroud.
Giroud stated afterwards that he had not noticed his teammate so he had to go for it:
I hoped it would go in. I saw the keeper off his line and I did not see Aaron [in the middle] for a cross. So I tried to take my chance.
In the wake of Arsenal’s goalless stalemate against Stoke that felt like two points lost rather than a point gained, here are my carefully considered thoughts on the team’s performance.