By Walter Broeckx
Again a lot of changes compared to our last match in the CL. But no changes compared to our last PL match. So we started with the same team that won at West Ham United.
A change on the bench though as Bellerin took place on the bench after being out for more than a month.
Team at the start: Cech, Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Xhaka, Walcott, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain,Alexis
On the beach: Ospina, Bellerin, Gibbs, Elneny, Iwobi, Lucas, Giroud
Stoke with an aerly corner that was headed away and was followed with an volley from far that was slightly tipped over by Cech according to the ref. Then Arsenal with a chance but first the cross didn’t find an Arsenal player and then a bit later a shot was blocked by a Stoke defender. Alexis then putting pressure on the keeper but the ball ran out for a goal kick. Mustafi sending Walcott away but the keeper could save his goal bound effort and Stoke cleared for a corner. A lot of confusion in the Stoke penalty area after the corner but Stoke can clear in the end. Monreal then needing treatment after an hit on the thigh but still 0-0 after 15 minutes.
Stoke now playing the all behind the ball game and the ref blowing his whistle almost each time a Stoke player going down. As you can imagine not the other way round of course. Allan at the end of a Stoke attack but his shot went well wide. Mustafi then going down with what looked hamstring injury. Bellerin came on after 24 minutes and Gabriel moved to the middle. Alexis setting up Özil who was just offside. Mason then pointing to the penalty spot in favour of Stoke when nobody really knew why. Allen ran against the arm of Xhaka who played the ball…. a real Mason decision… As predicted in our preview. Arsenal are getting almost a penalty against them each match. Adam converted the Mason gift. 0-1 after 30 minutes.
Bellerin with a cut inside but a defender could clear just before Özil would be in with a shot. Cech with a headed clearance on a long ball from Stoke at the other end. It looked offside to me but the assistant let it go. Arnautovic almost going through but a block from the Arsenal defender Monreal prevents more danger. Arsenal at the other with Alexis playing the ball excellent to Bellerin whose low cross is pushed over the goal line by Walcott. GOAL!!!! 1-1 after 42 minutes.
The Ox stopped on a counter but no card of course. This is Mason. Alexis then with a shot but over. Bellerin again with a low cross but The Ox can’t keep his effort down. Wasn’t that easy to be honest. The Stoke keeper wasting a least a minute each time he had to take a goal kick. Mason didn’t mind. A 1-1 score after 45 minutes thanks to Mr. Mason.
Bellerin going for own glory with a failed shot when a cross was more likely. Mason wasting even more time when he is talking to the Stoke keeper for time wasting. Just show him a card ref. Pieters from Stoke also wasting time after making a not given foul on Bellerin by pushing him in the back. 3 minutes of playing time of whom 2 have been wasted so far. But the Ox then picking out Özil with a lofted pass over the defenders and Özil with a well taken header puts the ball over the keeper. GOAL!!! 2-1 to the Arsenal After 49 minutes. What a lovely cushioned header that was.
Mason then running in the way for the second time in this half. Alexis with a cross to The Ox but his header went wide. Xhaka with a shot from distance but the ball hobbled wide. The Ox then with a shot after a lovely control and a not given foul on him but the keeper could save his effort. Mason then stopping an Arsenal attack when Arsenal won the ball after a dropped ball and would have been away…. This is against the laws of the game. The ref has no right how a dropped ball should be performed. Still 2-1 after 60 minutes.
Alexis almost with a chance but the ball was blocked and then the ball fell for the keeper. Mason again trying to get a bit of influence on how the match is going…Little fouls in favour of Stoke, blatant on in favour of Arsenal not given. After 68 minutes The Ox came off and Iwobi came on.
Crouch came on when Stoke had a corner and forced a save from Cech who had to go down quickly. An attack on the left flank starting by Iwobi who gave it to Alexis who was fouled just outside the penalty area but Iwobi had followed perfectly and was on his way to goal and curled it in at the far post. GOAL!!!! 3-1 to the Arsenal after 75 minutes. Credit where credit should be given: excellent advantage given by the ref.
After 76 minutes Giroud came on for Alexis. Coquelin intercepting his umpteenth ball in midfield and Walcott almost away but the keeper first on the ball. Walcott with a failed cross to Giroud but the latter managed to get a corner out of nothing. Walcott then with a wonderful solo run but the keeper could save the low shot.
Arsenal now more trying to play the time off the clock. After all next Tuesday is another match. Mason again the interfering when Stoke take a quick free kick but make an error and have it retaken. Walcott almost away but he couldn’t get past the last defender. Bellerin with a cross to Giroud but he was just off balance and missed his header.
Arsenal win 3-1 from Stoke and Mason was one of the main talking points. Always a bad sign for a ref.
Arsenal are now top of the league but Chelsea could take that spot back if they win tomorrow.
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