Stoke-ing An On Fire Team
So here we are on the brink of another weekend of anticipation. Hopeful rivals Chelsea face a tough match against Fulham and the two Manchester clubs line up against one another.
I don’t really like the whole attitude of “we shouldn’t be worrying about other teams dropping points, it shows how far Arsenal have declined that we do”; I think it is total crap. Supporters of all teams look out for the results of other teams in the hope that it benefits their team even champions elect look out for other results.
The difference I guess comes in relying on those results. We probably shouldn’t be relying on other results but there are few occasions when any Gooner would want to see the Mancs, Spuds or Chavs win a game and often it is because they want to win some money on sports betting accumulators or it benefits Arsenal for the opposition of those teams to drop points.
This weekend I’m sure we’ll once again hope for Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea to lose and the Mancs to draw but we won’t be relying on it and if that does happen it’ll mean nothing unless we beat Stoke.
Stoke are usually an incredibly hard working team and whilst in the past they have had a severe lack of technical quality in some areas they’ve still managed to frustrate us as playing technically superior football isn’t the only way to win football matches.
In years gone by we may have arrogantly expected to win these types of games with our quick passing and close control however if we failed to convert our possession into goals the team would become visibly frustrated.
But things have changed. Stoke no longer play the Pulis way, despite still being relatively physical, and Arsenal have gained the maturity, imagination, creativity and tenacity to win the games that maybe we lacked in the past.
Over the past 5 seasons our head-to-head record against Stoke hasn’t been the best, winning 6, losing 3 and drawing 2. It’s not terrible, it’s not even average; in fact against most teams it would be quite good but against a team like Stoke we maybe should have done better. When you look at the fixtures we have dropped points in (and the cup match we lost) you can see we often drop points at crucial stages.
Twice we have dropped points in the run in and once we dropped points at the start of the season when we ideally want to be setting the pace not playing catch up. Although we won the game in February 2010 thanks to two late goals the psychological effect of Ramsey’s leg break could be seen and felt for weeks after.
02/02/13 HOME W 1-0 Premier League
26/08/12 AWAY D 0-0 Premier League
28/04/12 AWAY D 1-1 Premier League
23/10/11 HOME W 3-1 Premier League
08/05/11 AWAY L 3-1 Premier League
23/02/11 HOME W 1-0 Premier League
27/02/10 AWAY W 1-3 Premier League
24/01/10 AWAY L 3-1 FA Cup
05/12/09 HOME W 2-0 Premier League
24/05/09 HOME W 4-1 Premier League
01/11/08 AWAY L 2-1 Premier League
Head to head details courtesy of 11v11.com.
Matches against Stoke have almost always been just a few degrees short of boiling point but a lot of that I feel was down to bad blood over Ramsey’s leg and the way Pulis played. Under Mark Hughes we face a different type of Stoke and with Ramsey in such good form, and his Stoke demons well and truly behind him; I think the heat will be tempered. That said there is the horrible thought of the microscopic chance of history repeating itself.
Ramsey probably will make Stoke look like amateurs again but I am confident that the Stoke players, as abhorrent as we find some of them, will have learnt to accept humiliation graceful and not consider breaking legs again.
It’s a fantastic match to introduce Özil to the tougher side of Premier League football without the Pulis-effect and with the rest of the team in fantastic form I fancy a big scoreline in Arsenal’s favour.
Thanks for reading! Please comment on this post, subscribe by email, share with friends and follow me on twitter (@thedanielcowan). Please check out the official NLIR Facebook page http://facebook.com/northlondonisredblog for news, views, freebies and more.
Advertise your business here! Click here for details.