The Potters frustrated Arsenal during the first half and had a couple of good looks on goal in the second, while the Gunners clearly missed Mesut Ozil. Goalkeeper Petr Cech had to make a couple of key saves in the second half to ensure Arsenal came away with a point.
As shared by Football Accumulator, midfielder Ozil missed out on the clash, while Xherdan Shaqiri didn't make the squad for the hosts:
STOKE v ARSENAL! Here's the lineups! pic.twitter.com/LlRpBrimEA— Football Accumulator (@footballacca) January 17, 2016
The match started at a high pace, and just minutes into it, German defender Philipp Wollscheid was lucky to escape a booking for a tough challenge on Theo Walcott. Stoke looked for the counter-attack, but the home fans were not happy, as they wanted to see more attacking intent from their side.
They also made sure Aaron Ramsey didn't forget the most horrific moment of his career, suffered at their ground in 2010, per Per Bleacher Report UK:
Stoke fans boo Aaron Ramsey with every touch of the ball because he wasn’t happy about this incident. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/jJADFtBAZE— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) January 17, 2016
Chances were few in the first 45 minutes. Olivier Giroud found himself isolated in the Stoke City box, while Marko Arnautovic was the main danger man for the hosts.
After a nervous opening 10 minutes, the Potters started to see more of the ball and win the midfield battle. Ibrahim Afellay had the first real chance of the contest, firing a shot wide of the post, before Joel Campbell nearly released Walcott behind the Potters defence.
Ozil's absence seemed to have a big effect on the Gunners, who struggled for creativity and couldn't penetrate the Stoke defence. The German shared this image to inform fans he hopes to be back in time for the match against Chelsea, via 101 Great Goals:
Mesut Ozil hopes to be fit for Chelsea match... pic.twitter.com/7PIStn5SSr— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) January 17, 2016
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made Jack Butland work with a curling shot from the edge of the box, and Arnautovic nearly caught the Arsenal defence napping on a ball over the top. The Austrian's timing looked off throughout the first half, however, and once again, he found himself offside.
Bojan Krkic tried his luck from a difficult angle but failed to direct his shot on target, as Stoke found ways to create chances but couldn't test Cech. The nervous probing continued until half-time, when Squawka Football shared statistics:
Stoke 0-0 Arsenal HT: Shots: 5-4 Pass accuracy: 79%-79% Chances created: 4-2 That was, erm, yeah... pic.twitter.com/TDEZAgcdlp— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 17, 2016
TV personality and Arsenal fan Piers Morgan highlighted the problem for the visitors:
We're missing Ozil. Badly. #afc— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 17, 2016
The Gunners had a positive start to the second half, as Giroud forced Butland into an early save with a powerful header. Arsenal controlled possession, a welcome change for the team after Stoke had seen much more of the ball in the first half than the visitors would have liked.
Walcott wanted a penalty when Wollscheid seemed to lean heavily on him to muscle him off the ball, but the official had no intention of handing the England international a gift like that. On the other side of the pitch, Cech showed his class with an excellent double save from Joselu and Bojan.
Per WhoScored.com, the veteran has been remarkably busy this season:
Petr Cech: Only Jack Butland (81) and Tim Howard (75) have made more saves in the PL this season than Cech (73) #STKARS— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 17, 2016
Ryan Shawcross pulled a header just wide as both teams continued to push forward in search of a winner with 30 minutes left on the clock. The hosts mainly threatened from set pieces, while Mame Biram Diouf replaced Bojan to add a bit of pace to the counter.
Ultimately, Arsenal seemed happy with a point, while the hosts pressed for a winner. That prompted more from Morgan, who didn't understand the sudden lack of intensity from the visitors:
Come on Arsenal, do you want to win the damn League or not?? Have to win games like this. Go harder. #afc— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 17, 2016
Campbell tried his luck with a curling shot inside the final 10 minutes, but it missed the mark. On the other end, Nacho Monreal came up with a goal-line clearance in injury time, and Cech produced another fine save on the rebound to preserve the clean sheet.
Arsenal is tied with Leicester and one point ahead of Manchester City.
Ozil could have made the difference, and his importance to the side became clear on Sunday. The German remains one of the top creative forces in the Premier League, and his fitness will be key to Arsenal's ongoing title charge.
As reported by the Premier League's official Twitter account, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger acknowledged his squad badly missed Ozil:
Wenger: "There's no team in the world that doesn't miss Ozil. Even with him it would've been very difficult as well" pic.twitter.com/v6pganaAlH— Premier League (@premierleague) January 17, 2016
He also addressed the chants directed at Ramsey, telling reporters those fans may be "less proud" when they go home and watch the match on television, via the Daily Mirror's John Cross.