Arsenal 1 – 0 Stoke | One nil to the football team!

The ditty we like to sing after taking the lead was given a witty twist last night as we reminded that jumped up nobody Pulis just how pathetic his rugby football team are after Squillaci headed us into the lead on eight minutes.

By that time delap had already taken twenty seconds per throw in on a couple of occasions as the Potters sought to waste time from the off. A bloke near me sang at Delap (to the tune of “You’re supposed to be at home”): “All you do is throw the ball!”

Walcott had already hit the post in a bright opening from Arsenal, but when Fabregas went off injured straight after we scored, all the energy and tempo went from our game. It was like watching the teacher leave the classroom and all the kids stop bothering to work as hard. So much so that the rest of the half dragged on without any incident – Arsenal content to try and win 1-0, Stoke happy to get in at half time only a goal down. The fans got so bored there was even time for a chant of “Rocky Rocky Rocky Rocky Rocastle”.

Squillaci scores for Arsenal

"Blimey Seb, you're better in their box than ours!"

It was easy to work out Pulis’ halftime teamtalk as Stoke launched into some meaty tackles at the start of the second period, trying to bully us off the ball as they weren’t skillful enough to get it off us fairly. We are made of sterner stuff though these days and we continued to dominate possession with Wilshere looking lively again and Song strong as the proverbial ox in midfield.

However, we made more sideways passes than the rest of the season put together as Stoke kept 10 men behind the ball and we showed no urgency in getting the second goal everyone knew we needed to prevent a nervous finale. Did we miss the penetration of Fabregas? Yes, but the casual approach was the same malaise that saw us only get one against Orient and think it would be fine.

This time it was – just – as we did pretty well in the air when the inevitable onslaught came in the last five minutes, although there were still a couple of hairy moments that could’ve been avoided had we not been so lethargic going forward since scoring.

The three points were crucial in keeping the pressure on Man Utd, but may have come at a price with Fabregas tweaking his hammy and Walcott already ruled out of Sunday’s final with a sprained ankle. They join Koscielny, van Persie and Vermaelen in the treatment room, which is suddenly filling up at a crucial time of the season. Again.

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