Saturday, December 06, 2014

Arsenal 2 Stoke City 3: By the Numbers

Arsenal came into the game today against Stoke having won three games on the bounce, all with clean sheets. But things are never easy at the Brittania and it only took 22 seconds for Stoke to break Arsenal’s scoreless streak. Two more followed by halftime in one of the worst halves of football the Gunners have played in several years (I think back to that 4-0 loss to AC Milan in the first leg of their UCL knockout tie). In the second half, Arsenal came back strongly, threatening the goal several times before pulling two back. But a baffling second yellow of Calum Chambers meant the comeback would need to be completed a man down and the Gunners fell short.

The first stoke goal came from Peter Crouch after truly shambolic defending that looked like a rather impressive Keystone Cops impression. It started on a long ball down the right wing, with Gibbs failing to come out to contest the cross. The ball then fell to the ground with three defenders surrounding Crouch, as Martinez dove to the ground before Crouch had even lined up his shot. Seeing the gaping goal, he passed it straight in. Arsenal did almost equalize in the 11th minute, as Bellerin ran to the line to surprise everyone by getting a cross to the far post, where Giroud really should have scored. But his header went just wide of the post and the chance was lost. Few others came for Arsenal and Stoke made them pay for their profligacy and casual passing with a second in the 34th minute as a fine cross by Walters, again uncontested by Gibbs, was well finished by the impressive Spaniard Bojan. Then simply hoping to get to halftime with a chance, Arsenal conceded a third in the 45th minute as Stoke scored from a corner for the first time all season, as Crouch headed a high floater forward to Walters, who pounded it into the roof of the net.

It was a truly pathetic defensive performance, with very little happening on the offensive end either. But Welbeck came on for Bellerin at halftime, with Flamini moving to the right, and Arsenal looked better from the whistle. Sanchez, in fact, had a wonderful chance to score in the 51st minute after intercepting a bad pass, slaloming forward, getting around three defenders and sending Begovich to the ground before hitting the post with the goal completely open. In the 57th, Arsenal did get their first goal, as Flamini was clipped in the box by Dioff, with Cazorla scoring the resulting penalty for his first goal in almost a year. This came a few minutes after a fourth Stoke goal was disallowed for a passive offsides right in front of Martinez (a good call, I think). In the 70th minute, Arsenal made it a one-goal game as a Sanchez corner was well finished by Aaron Ramsey, on a powerful volley from near the edge of the box. Game on, until a bizarre and completely unwarranted second yellow was given to Calum Chambers (both for foul close to midfield) in the 78th minute. That seemed to take the steam out of an increasingly dangerous Arsenal attack and they were unable to get the late equalizer.

The only good news for Arsenal was a loss by Chelsea and draws by both Liverpool and Tottenham at home. But let’s look at the contest by the numbers:

1 of 9: the number of wins by Arsenal at the Britannia (last win in 2010)
3: the number of consecutive wins Arsenal had, and losses Stoke had coming into the game
2: the number of goals Stoke scored in those three games
3: the number they scored in the first 45 minutes today
2 in 118: the number of goals Arsenal have scored off of corners this year, including the Ramsey goal today
112: the number headed out by the first man (or something along those lines, it seems …)
13: the number of months since referee Anthony Taylor has given a red card until today (23 games)
28: the number of games between Santi Cazorla league goals
13: the number of games Ramsey went without a goal, before today
3: number of offsides by Arsenal, all by Flamini
57%: possession by Arsenal, again winning the battle but losing the war
15-13: shots by Arsenal and Stoke, respectively
6-4: number of shots on target for each
14-20: the number of tackles for each
14-17: the number of fouls by each
13: the number of points Arsenal are still behind Chelsea after 15 games
14: number of games Chelsea dreamed of matching the Invincibles
3: the number of points City might be behind Chelsea if they keep their one-goal lead against Everton

No comments: