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July 2021

Arsenal v Rugby; a match preview

By Billy “the Dog” McGraw

Stoke is an ancient parish somewhere to the north, in rugby playing land.  The name Stoke means “place” which more or less is right.

But even a “place” can have a motto and Stoke’s is Vis Unita Fortior meaning  United Strength is Stronger – which is the origins of the way in which they play football.

Stoke has always been aggressive in its policies towards other areas, as for example when, at the moment Arsenal were focussed on starting the longest run in the First Division in the history of football, Stoke invaded and attempted to annexe Newcastle-under-Lyme plus Wolstanton.  Newcastle Corporation however fought back and the Battle of the Little and Big Pots took place.  This fight was one of the longest in British history, and continued to 1930 when Stoke took the matter to the House of Comics and set out the Stoke-on-Trent Extension Bill.    However Newcastle retaliated and took of Wolstanton itself in 1932.

Meanwhile Stoke-on-Trent applied for city status claiming it was important.  The Home Office told it where to go.  Stoke then went to King George V and after seeing the ferocity of the locals he caved in.  However in 1974 Staffordshire invaded and it is now known as NUTS3.  (Honest, that is not made up. Type “Nuts of the United Kingdom” into Google if you don’t believe me).

Since the 17th century, the area has been almost exclusively known for its industrial-scale rugby tackles.

If we contemplate the league table we see that both sides have let in 29 goals this season, but Arsenal have scored 48 and Stoke have scored 24.

6 (6) Arsenal 24 10 8 6 48 29 19 38
7 (7) Liverpool 24 9 8 7 42 30 12 35
8 (8) Swansea City 24 8 10 6 34 27 7 34
9 (9) West Bromwich Albion 24 10 4 10 34 34 0 34
10 (10) Stoke City 24 6 12 6 24 29 -5 30

Interestingly there have been 50 goals at the Ems this season, the most in the Premier League.  But Stoke have drawn five games 0-0, more  than any other Premier League side this season.   The Rugby men have won just one of their last 21 Premier League away games and have conceded 15 goals in their last five Premier League games.  And the last meaningless stat: Arsenal have the most effective offside trap in the division, catching out an opponent 85 times thus far

Since Giroud has scored five in the last three games you can either a) expect that to be all over and he will be useless tomorrow, or b) he will score two.

At this moment it is a bit uncertain who the team will be but here is a suggestion:

Watch Arsenal Live Streams With

Wojciech Szczesny

Bacary Sagna; Per Mertesacker;  Laurent Koscielny; Nacho Monreal

Aaron Ramsey; Jack Wilshere

Santi Cazorla

Theo Walcott; Olivier Giroud; Lukas Podolski


  • Vito Mannone
  • Carl Jenkinson
  • Andre Santos
  • Abou Diaby
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • Tomas Rosicky
  • Mikel Arteta

But contemplate if you will the possibilities of alternative patterns.

Santos could play again in the defence, for the simple reason that Monreal will hardly have had time to get the hang of how Arsenal play, and has had all the disruption of moving into a hotel.  Also I have no idea if he speaks English, but I rather doubt it – and that means no direct communication from anyone other than Santi Cazorla.

Abou Diaby was on the bench for the Liverpool game, and I wonder if he would be risked against Stoke’s style of play.  If the boss doesn’t think it is a risk, then he could be in.  As could be Mike Arteta who is said to be ok again.  Either of these two might replace Ramsey.

Tomas Rosicky is really a replacement for Cazorla, and is only likely to be there if Cazorla is now knackered from playing every game.

As for the front three, they look to be our best bet, so I wouldn’t change them, until we are 4-0 up with 30 minutes to go and Alex OC could pop on for a little run around.

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43 comments to Arsenal v Rugby; a match preview

  • robl

    Nicely summed up.

    I would guess that Diaby and Arteta may start to counter the Stoke Aerial Strategy, with Wilshere possibly in the hole as he is not afraid of a bit of afters.

    May also get Jenkinson on as Stoke have a lot of full back problems at the moment – may need to rest Sagna a bit as he could be our champions league left back.

  • Gouresh

    they will play real physical with our holding midfield, be it MA or AR. That will make or break us. we need to stop giving silly fouls around our box, which we are notoriously famous for. remmember arshivn? we need to maintain discipline at all cost. getting that 1 st goal in the 1st 10 / 15 mins for us is important. so OG shoudl not miss them.

  • Stuart

    I think Diaby on his day, would be very effective against Stoke. On the injury front, with him, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. Isn’t it just the way he’s grown rather than the knocks?

  • With stoke its a tricky one we just need to be hard. Sometimes i wonder if Per is a real German he is a tall guy looks muscular but can not stand his ground.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Think they will try to capitalise on our nervy first twenty mins than park the bus if successful. And kick us. We really have to stop shipping the silly early goals – maybe a tighter tactical formation early in games? Apparently, Wenger was close on another last minute signing – keep hearing it was Capoue, as opposed to the much reported, but according to Spanish journalistic experts, never likely to happen… David Villa – if so, would indicate Wenger recognises a need to be more solid and /or worries about the fitness of who we already have. If any truth in this , maybe an indication of a summer arrival.
    Will be a tricky game today, but expect a win despite a ref who will clearly allow Stoke their excesses, today would be a good day to put behind bad habits, and continue with the good habits. Theos speed can cause them problems, would like to see Ox at some point as well.

  • Al

    Who’s reffing this one?

  • Stuart

    its Mr Cadburys Parrot

  • RobL

    Just doing the little “I called it” dance.

  • Al

    Cheers Stuart. You never know what you get with Foy, but certainly better than getting dean or dowd.

  • @AI you are spot on,with Foy anything can happen but with those two morons it is as if you are already condemned.

  • Al

    Three players were wrestled to the ground in the qpr-norwich encounter ala Koscielny-Dzeko, but no penalties were given. Liked the fact Wilkins picked up on the fact we got punished but none of today’s fouls were punished. Just shows how overzealous dean was to penalize us & send Kos off. Hope we hammer stoke today, and come out of this fixture without any serious injuries.

  • Al

    You’re right Kampala, with dean you’re doomed even before a ball is kicked. Think Walter already predicted if we get dean in the spuds reverse fixture then he will give spuds a penalty, Vermalean a yellow, and I think he also said a red card against us. It’s that bad.

  • Adam

    c,mon villa

  • Gord

    What was the collision between Monreal and Walters like? It sounds like the rugby player got the worst of that.

  • Andrei

    Shawcross is just not that kind of player…

  • Mandy Dodd

    One nil to the football team!

  • Al

    Shawcross, a vile thing.

  • Al

    Whoops! Clean sheet, just what the doctor ordered.

  • Gord

    Villa take a point off Everton, and Newcastle take all 3 off Chelsea. Let’s hope West Brom is up for their game tomorrow, and maybe even a pool/city tie as well.

  • John

    From Arsenal on-line commentary I understand that Pulis was more entertaining to watch than his thug-ball players. Nigel Winterburn found it very amusing.

    It sounds as if Stoke turned really nasty after our goal, but that our players stood up to them. Possibly Arteta may have given back more than he got and got away with it. Fantastic!

    Maybe Shawcross should have had a red card, but as Andrei has pointed out “he’s not that kind of player”

    Overall a great victory over bus parking, time-wasting, rough-house tactics.

  • Rupert Cook

    Shame Everton equalized in the last minute. Still a vital three points in that eternal fight for the mighty fourth spot.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    Our defence seemed much more confident today, and generally everyone played well. Couldn’t help smirking at Monreal’s few mistakes and wondered what sort of reaction Santos would have got if he’d done it-but Monreal seems a very confident player.
    Great to see Arteta back and the Ox had a very bright moments that seemed closer to his first season. Poldis face when he scored said it all. Hope Nicky celebrated 65 yrs in style with our win!
    Come on you Gunners!!

  • Shard

    It must have been attack vs defense for nearly 80 mins of the game.

    Wilkinson should have had a yellow card, or possibly even been sent off by the end of the first half. Shawcross deserved red. There were numerous uncalled fouls, and the lino nearly cot us a legitimate goal. If Foy hadn’t correctly awarded that and we hadn’t been able to score again, the narrative would have been how casual we were etc etc.

    Speaking of casual, I don’t often agree with the commentators, but it really was a strange atmosphere in the crowd today. They seemed weirdly detached for much of the first half.

    Anyway, a victory, Chelsea lose, Everton draw. 3rd place beckons 🙂

    Oh and a more than decent debut for Monreal. Made one potentially costly error, and wasn’t really put under much pressure otherwise, but considering he only signed day before, his overall contribution was very encouraging.

  • Whoosh what a win! I wonder if Mertesacker reads Untold i was wondering before the game if he had the bolls and oh boy today he showed me that he did. If only he can keep it up that way.

  • Shard


    BBC list us as having only 47% of the possession.

  • Florian

    I’ll be cheering for a draw next weekend when Everton plays Manu. 4-4 preferably:)

  • Al

    Saw that and if I hadn’t watched the game might even have believed it! Think they meant to have it the other way round, 74%. I know we at least got over 70%.

  • Al

    Yeah, that thug shawcross deserved a straight red after almost disembowelling Kos. The annoying thing is since the ref issued only a yellow the spineless FA will say the ref dealt with it.

  • @Shard @AI what did you expect from BBC they wanted us to lose, morons.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Shard, the 47% figure is probably correct after all the 20 minutes Stoke wasted must be counted as their possession. I loved Szcz for his effort at the end when he casually walked 25 yards upfield of the ball and pretended not to know where it was when invited to restart play. Pure class!

  • Gord


    Why 4-4?

  • Florian


    Because I wish the lightning stroke twice.

  • Arun

    Good win for us today. Everton getting a late equalizer did hurt, otherwise we would have been fifth.
    Did anyone else notice that Balotelli refused to talk to a reporter of the sun. Check out the video here:

  • Al

    Well done Mario! About time someone told these rags’ reporters where to go. Thanks Arun.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Stoke amaze me, they seem to be a concentration of all that is negative in the game. Even with our wobbly defence of late, they showed no ambition whatsoever. But did enjoy Chezzers bit of time wasting right at the end when he completely ignored the ball behind him in his area for about 30 secs when a free kick was given in the centre of the pitch. The team really stood up to it today, in a way which recent teams may not have done, nobody can say with any credibility that this lot lack committment. Some games, they are certainly lacking something, but they do care.

  • bjtgooner

    I have been traveling a lot recently and have not been able to post. It is great to come home today to the news of a timely hard fought win over the Stoke Rugby squad.

    Well done the team.

  • Gord

    The BBC has a note, that Walters needed 6 stiches. Presumably this is from the collision (or whatever) with Monreal.

  • americangooner

    Chris Foy is showing his grandfatherly love there. I overheard he is the most lenient on red cards. Good to see arsenal win.

  • nicky

    @Guillaume le Chien,
    Surprised you didn’t report on the number of pitch-side towels Stoke get through in a season. Or has a relation got the laundry concession?

  • Rufusstan

    @americangooner. True about Foy, unfortunately. Realistically Stoke could easily have ended the game with 9 at best– take your pick from:

    Wilkinson had enough assaults on Theo alone for 2-3 yellows
    Shawcross probably should have seen red for the one on Koscielny.
    Owen should have gone. It was a pathetic punch, but he raised his hands. We certainly have had players sent off for less.

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Billy “The Dog” McCraw:
    You got the line up right… for the eleven that finished the game.

  • Gf60

    @Billy. From Wikipedia “Stoke derives from the Old English stoc, a word that at first meant little more than place, but which subsequently gained more specific – but divergent – connotations. These variant meanings included dairy farm, secondary or dependent place or farm, summer pasture, crossing place, meeting place and place of worship. It is not known which of these was intended here, and all are feasible.”

    But none are correct. It means the place of Troglodytes.