Stoke City 0 Arsenal 0

Arsenal were held to a goalless draw for the second time this season, but the point won away at a hostile Britannia stadium said much about the resilience of the Gunners present side in comparison to Arsenal sides of the recent past who normally would have left this part of the world having nothing but the abuse from the Stoke City fans ringing in their ears. Aaron Ramsey suffered a career threatening double leg fracture here, yet he was cruelly booed by what can only be described as a section of the once labelled ‘rugby team,’ fans. It was disgusting, and owner Peter Coates cannot have been pleased with his fans’ vile taunting of Ramsey. On the football side of things, Petr Cech produced some great saves to deny the home side, with Jack Butland having earlier twice denied Olivier Giroud.

Arsenal travelled to the Midlands without Mesut Özil, who had a foot injury following the midweek 3-3 at. Anfield Alexis Sanchez is close to a first team return, and like Ozil should be available to play against Chelsea at the Emirates stadium next Sunday.

Arsene Wenger reflected on the draw at Stoke.

” We did well to battle. They made the game physical, they were up for it, the players were up for it and they were up for a direct game. We had to have a physical response and show solidarity, fighting spirit and togetherness. We lacked a bit of creativity to force a way through and on top of that we missed good chances. They were fighting from the first to the last minute. We wanted to win the game but looking at our history here it is a positive result. Looking at the results of the other teams that played at the top, it is a positive result. But overall, we missed two points today.”

Theo Walcott had a penalty claim denied when being held by Pieters who then kicked out at the Arsenal striker, but play was waived on. Replays showed Arsenal should’ve been awarded a penalty.

Butland kept the home side in the game with an excellent save coming off his line to deny Giroud his tenth goal in ten games after a clever pass from Joel Campbell. In the second half, the France striker rose well to Ramsey’s corner and headed powerfully, but Butland read the danger to keep his side in the game.

Without Özil any side would suffer creatively conceded Wenger, but in Laurent Koscielny, Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal and Per Mertersacker the Arsenal defence held firm. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was given a more defensive midfield role, but his forward runs were also cause for concern to the hosts, with Butland taking no chances to glove away the England man’s long range effort. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s role was something he could deploy in future noted Wenger.

” He had very interesting moments in the game where he showed his qualities and how he can get out of pressure, go past people and get into the final third. In the future it can be a very interesting position for him. I played him in a 4-3-3 today. Normally we play a 4-2-3-1 as players like to push forward and I think it is a position that suits him well.”

It was left to Cech to deny Joselu and the follow up shot from Bojan as Stoke sensed a late winner. Ramsey headed off the line from Jon Walters and Cech’s outstretched boot thwarted the follow up danger from Joselu. Campbell squandered an excellent chance, curling wide when feeding the ball to Bellerin to his left would have been the better option.

” We did well to battle. They made the game physical, they were up for it, the players were up for it and they were up for a direct game. We had to have a physical response and show solidarity, fighting spirit and togetherness. We lacked a bit of creativity to force a way through and on top of that we missed good chances. They were fighting from the first to the last minute. We wanted to win the game but looking at our history here it is a positive result. Looking at the results of the other teams that played at the top, it is a positive result. But overall, we missed two points today,” conceded Wenger.

Asked about the abuse Ramsey got from the Stoke fans, Wenger was diplomatic with an added sense of incredulity on the cruel wording aimed in Ramsey’s direction.

” I don’t listen too much. I focus on the game. I shut my ears and that is the best way to deal with it. I don’t know what to do about it and I have no influence over it. I don’t really know what they should do about it. When they get together sometimes they forget that individual responsibility. Maybe when you go home and watch it on television, you will be less proud.”

If Stoke want to be bad boys, good boys or even get a grip on the taunting from their boo boys, best leave it to their football and then let football revisit this debate once the Britannia stadium has some silverware in their trophy cabinet. Until then, best leave it!