Most of the headlines this evening are to do with the behaviour of the Stoke fans rather than the match itself. That’s down to two reasons — firstly, the game wasn’t really much to write home about as a lively opening 20 minutes slowly petered out into a tame draw. And secondly, the home supporters managed to plumb new depths of idiocy with some bewildering booing and jeering.
Some of it was aimed at our manager and to be honest I have no real problem with that. Wenger infamously called their side “a rugby team” and whilst I know where he’s coming from, you’ve got to expect some stick back for that.
What really annoyed me though was the jeering of Aaron Ramsey. Seriously Stoke fans, have you no shame? I have never heard anything so ridiculous in my life. It’s like the family of a mugger gathering round the little old lady whose handbag was snatched and hurling abuse at her.
As if to demonstrate that he shares the same lack of decency as the Neanderthals who worship him, Tony Pulis said of Ramsey’s treatment:
“I was more concerned about the Arsenal supporters booing Shawcross so I didn’t hear the ones on Ramsey.”
Well you inbred little twat, that’s because your knuckle-dragging centre-half assaulted our player with a tackle so horrific that Shawcross himself broke down in tears as the realisation of what a terrible thing he’d done filtered through his thick skull. Whereas Ramsey is, was and always will be completely innocent of ANY wrongdoing. So trying to shift the attention onto Arsenal fans booing Shawcross, which we’re quite entitled to do, shows what a classless cretin you really are.
Anyway, now that’s off my chest I suppose I should talk about the match. We had the better of it, especially the first half, and should’ve been 4-1 up after half an hour. The reason we weren’t is because once again we showed that only van Persie can be trusted in front of goal. Gervinho bottled a header after a terrific cross from Sagna, Ramsey drove just wide from the edge of the area, Koscielny headed over when well placed and most glaringly of all Benayoun shot weakly at the keeper after good play from van Persie.
Care in the community is thriving in Stoke
So thank goodness it was our reliable Dutch maestro on the end of Rosicky’s perfect, teasing cross to level things up a few minutes after Crouch had nodded Stoke in front.
I was pleased with our response to going behind against the run of play. Ignoring the disappointment of losing a goal to a bread and butter ball into the box, we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves and resumed taking the game to Stoke, causing them problems that resulted in the aforementioned chances. The best one fell to RVP when his far post header was smartly blocked by Begovic and it was something of an injustice to go in all square at the break.
Hearing the halftime score from Wigan made 1-1 look like a point gained rather than two dropped, and perhaps that was on the players’ minds in the second half. Although we again dominated possession and looked more interested in winning the match than Stoke, we failed to create many decent chances as our slick passing game wasn’t as well-oiled as it could be. van Persie aimed a close-range header straight at Begovic but that apart our best opportunities came from free kicks and penalty shouts, of which we had two. A handball from Shawcross may have been outside the box anyway, but the shove on Benayoun looked a clear penalty and we can consider ourselves unfortunate not to have got the decision for one of them.
In injury time Stoke almost scored when they hurled the ball into our box from their
lineout throw-in and Sagna had to be alert to hook it away from very near the goal line. A win for Stoke would’ve been rough justice on our lads who I thought played with a lot more spirit than last week despite not being at their fluent best. In fact if we’d have been as up for the match with Chelsea as we were today we’d have beaten the chavs quite comfortably — that missed opportunity still annoys me.
All in all I’m not displeased with a point today. It’s always tough up there, they hate us and work their nuts off to try and beat us and considering none of the top six have won at the Britannia Stadium this season it feels as though we’re a point nearer to third place rather than slipping back into the chasing pack.
Both Chelsea and Spurs play twice now before we take to the field against Norwich next Saturday. Most people look at the table and mentally add six points on for our London rivals because they have two games in hand, but it rarely works out that way. I don’t think Spurs or Chelsea will win both their next games, but even if they do, victories against Norwich and West Brom would guarantee us third place.
Who else would’ve signed up for that in early February?
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