Stoke vs. Arsenal: Score, Reaction from 2016 Premier League Match

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2016

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17:  Erik Pieters of Stoke City tackles Joel Campbell of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Arsenal at Britannia Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Arsenal is back atop the table after the Gunners and Stoke City played out a goalless draw during Sunday's Premier League clash at the Britannia Stadium.

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.

With Leicester City also picking up a draw in Week 22 and Manchester City winning, all three teams now sit within one point of each other in the standings.

As shared by Football Accumulator, midfielder Ozil missed out on the clash, while Xherdan Shaqiri didn't make the squad for the hosts:

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:

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:

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:

TV personality and Arsenal fan Piers Morgan highlighted the problem for the visitors:

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, the veteran has been remarkably busy this season:

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:

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.


Post-Match Reaction

As reported by the Premier League's official Twitter account, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger acknowledged his squad badly missed Ozil:

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.