Details: Arsenal vs. Stoke City | Emirates Stadium | Saturday, 12 Sept 2015, 10:00pm (Malaysian time)
Like the commentator said last night, it was Stoke City’s goalkeeper Jack Butland vs. Arsenal. And then it became Theo Walcott 1 – 0 Jack Butland. Why? Because throughout the entire match, it was Arsenal’s players creating opportunity after opportunity within the Stoke City’s half of the field and Jack Butland was the only man standing between the Gunners and a goal.
Arsenal had many chances to go at least three goals ahead, but squandered all of them. Nothing new there as Arsenal is famous for making the opening but failing to convert the attempt into a goal. In fact, it was attempt after attempt by Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Alexis Sanchez (whose two efforts hit the goal posts twice, and it was unbearably frustrating for me to watch) and Theo Walcott, as well as a 35-yard strike from defender Laurent Koscielny (who just celebrated his 30th birthday not too long ago – this would have been a great birthday present for him if this one hit the back of the net). Aaron Ramsey also wasted some chances to put Arsenal ahead.
Within 30 minutes, the Gunners have created so many chances that it was unbelievable that none turned into a goal. Only just before the half-time whistle did Theo Walcott finally break the deadlock with a coolly-taken effort between the legs of Butland. That was truly and well-deserved, considering the number of opportunities they created.
In the second half, the cycle began again, with Arsenal trying to score another goal. Yet again, they were met by Butland’s exceptional goalkeeping and Stoke City’s defense. Time and time again, Arsenal’s chances were nothing more than just that, chances. Some of the chances were just unbelievable! Most of it were God’s gift and they could have, should have scored. As a self-proclaimed couch player, I’d say that if I were out there and in front of the net, I probably would have scored the goal. Then again, from where we sit in front of the television, it is easier for us to say that than to be on the field in real time, desperately trying to score a second goal. After all, from where they’re standing, it is harder to see things.
Mikel Arteta was brought on in the second half, together with Olivier Giroud. The latter had a few golden opportunities to score a second goal for the Gunners but alas, it was not meant to be. I was ready to accept their victory with only one goal from this match, together with the rest of the Arsenal fans, when Giroud reminded us why we have to have strong faith in Arsene Wenger’s men. A well-placed free kick by Santi Cazorla was met by the French striker, whose leap in the air rose higher than any other in the box, and his header hit the back of the net. A thunderous roar filled the Emirates Stadium and finally, we justified the match with all three points, ours to take home.
I’m happy with the results, after all, we were out there to win. However, I still think that it would have been a far worse result for Stoke City as there could have been so many more goals if the Gunners didn’t squander their first-half chances. It could have easily been 4-0 or 5-0 by the time the full-time whistle went off. Nonetheless, it was a good result and one that should drive us forward when we meet Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League and then Chelsea in the Premier League.
More details in the full match report here (Arsenal.com).