By Walter Broeckx
I usually do my match report in a chronological way. But this time I will start with a message for those who will come on here to talk about how the manager should have put up his team and how tactical inept he is.
And to do that I will go back to the Swansea defeat. Because the same one that now will start to harp on about this I want to point at what they said after that match.
They said that Wenger should have taken off Monreal (he did this now because of Monreal being injured), put Chambers in the middle (he did this today forced because of Monreal being injured and Koscielny clearny not 100% fit) and put Bellerin at right back as he would deal with anything that was throwing at him. And no bigger Bellerin fan than me but I disagreed.
I disagreed at the time. Saying that doing that you would expose Bellerin to a possible bad day and kill some confidence. It would mean that Mertesacker had to play on the left side of central defence and that he then is not as good as on the right side. I was called all sorts of names and said that I was just defending the manager who couldn’t see what they all could see.
So Wenger did all that be it forced somehow on him. And boy did that work?
The first goal was down to one rule against Stoke (second goal also in fact): don’t allow them to cross to the big boys. And now the changes as the keyboard managers told Wenger to do and then the problems I pointed at were clearly visible within the first minute. Gibbs allowing the cross as was somehow too advanced from the kick off, Per not being in his usual place as he had to cover for Gibbs, Chambers being lost somewhere in between and Bellerin not sharp enough from the start of the match.
You don’t want to go down at any ground so fast and certainly not at Stoke. As this gives them the opportunity to play their favourite tactics. Hoof it forward and count on that. Crouch manhandling Chambers but no yellow from the ref? Surely how is that possible? Right it’s Taylor.
Arsenal tried to do something in return but when Alexis was fouled the ref gave the foul against him. Ok, that made it clear from the start that he still is useless. Last match a Southampton player punching the ball away was no foul for the ref. Alexis taking the ball with him with his chest was a handball for Taylor this time.
We got a few half chances but Giroud completely missed his header and we couldn’t really get going. Maybe I missed something as my stream went down on more than one occasion. I didn’t miss the second Stoke goal. Again Gibbs allowed a cross from his flank and again where Koscielny would have been we saw no one. Bojan tapped it over the line.
The third goal was again a typical Stoke goal. A corner that was headed down and Walker could finish it from close range. 3-0 down at half time. But the good news for me was that at first sight no players were injured.
Welbeck came on at the start of the second half in the place of Bellerin. Oxlade-Chamberlain filling in at right back or was it Flamini. Sorry a real blurry stream. Was Bellerin injured or just to spare him from the critical fans? Did I speak too soon about no injuries? Crouch then finally got a yellow card. The wrong one as it was for the third time that I could see that he swung an arm in the face of an Arsenal defender. He should have been sent off for that in the first half. But well this is Taylor as we know him.
Alexis then with a golden chance dribbling pas all and everyone and then…he hit the post. That could have put us back in the match with more than half an hour to play. That would have been an amazing goal and solo effort.
Stoke then getting a corner for kicking the ball out over the goal line themselves? Another strange decision from Taylor.
Chambers getting a yellow for holding Crouch who had been throwing his arms in every Arsenal player on the pitch with only one yellow card to show for it?
After one hour Giroud came off and Podolski came on. Arsenal seemingly trying to press a bit more but then on an attack a low shot beat Martinez who didn’t look good at that. But the assistant signaled for an offside as a Stoke player was actually standing in front of Martinez when he took the shot.
And then Flamini went down after a challenge and I can’t be sure to be honest but the ref gave a penalty to Arsenal. I think the assistant actually signalled it maybe? And with the score of 3-0 even Taylor thought it didn’t matter that much. Write it down this date in history after 10 months we got a penalty again. Cazorla converted it.
A minute later Begovic had to be very alert when a shot from Welbeck almost went in. From the resulting corner Ramsey volleyed it in. 3-2 and still 20 minutes to go.
Ok Arsenal getting too close to a comeback so Taylor had to do something. After letting Crouch hit Arsenal players he booked Chambers for the second time for a small pulling foul in the middle of the field. Surely he couldn’t let Arsenal come back completely. Arsenal down to 10 man. This surely would have killed of any team.
Adams trying to separate the head of Alexis from his body only got a yellow for his failed attempt. But Arsenal pressing for a equalizer now even with a man down. Stoke even bringing on an extra defender for the final minutes. Taylor adding to stop Arsenal by calling a wrong throw. Taylor now giving us nothing any more. Much to the disbelief of Welbeck who asked him if he still knew him from Manchester United.
Campbell coming in the last minutes in the place of Gibbs. But the pressure with 10 man didn’t pay off. After a disastrous first half with Wenger having done what the keyboard managers had told him to do a few weeks earlier we fought bravely back but got nothing to show for it at the end.
One can wonder of course what would have happened if Taylor had sent off Crouch instead of Chambers…. Another disastrous performance from the ref as far as I could see on my blurry stream.
But one bit of good news came out of Newcastle. Arsenal still are the only real invincibles. That puts a bit of plaster on the dropped points today.
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