Stoke Scupper Cesc and Co.
Stoke City sent Arsenal out of the FA Cup with a convincing 3-1 victory at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Ricardo Fuller scored a brace on either side of a Denilson equaliser, before Dean Whitehead scored his first goal in the red and white to put Arsenal out.
Wenger only retained Cesc Fabregas and Denilson from the first 11 that beat Bolton in the midweek, and Arsene was left to rue his decision early on. Seventy-one seconds in and Fuller scored following a trademark Rory Delap throw and an error by Arsenal second keeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Denilson brought the sides level with a deflected shot off a free kick; however, with less than 15 minutes to go Mamady Sidibe roared down the touchline before providing an inch perfect cross for Fuller, who beat returning Sol Campbell to the ball for Stoke’s second.
Whitehead finished Arsenal off from close range following a low cross, after Armand Traore and Mikael Silvestre kindly left him unmarked, even though he was the only Stoke player in sight.
The defeat asks serious questions concerning the depth that Arsene Wenger claims his side has. Wenger has not purchased anyone worth mentioning in January, apart from Sol Campbell, who did little to impress in the second string Arsenal defence. His partners didn’t do much to help him, with fellow senior player Silvestre too slow for Sidibe while Traore was very often caught napping.
Wenger threw on Aaron Ramsey, Andrey Arshavin and Eduardo while the game was still at 1-1, but a total lack of cohesion in the Gunners attack prevented them from doing much, as Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen enjoyed a rather peaceful game.
Arsenal are the third “Big 4” team to be knocked out of the FA Cup following Manchester United and Liverpool’s exits in Round Three. Chelsea, who fielded their best team at Preston yesterday are now firm favourites to go on win the trophy, with Carlo Ancelotti seemingly taking the FA Cup a lot more seriously than his Big Four counterparts.
Some members of the media thought exiting the FA Cup would be beneficial to Man United in lieu of their Champions League campaign. It’s always said, “if you’re not going to win the cup, best to be knocked out early.”
However, Arsenal, who have not won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup, might regret this. What do you guys think?