Walters' penalty shocks listless Arsenal
Premier League, Britannia Stadium - Stoke City 1 (Walters 76, pen) Arsenal 0
Jonathan Walters' penalty gave Stoke City a 1-0 victory against a poor Arsenal in the Premier League.
Excitement was scarce in the first half, with little creativity from both sides. Santi Cazorla had Arsenal’s best chance towards the end of the half, shooting straight at Asmir Begovic from outside the box. A minute before, Glenn Whelan sliced a shot towards the corner of the goal, also from distance, but Wojciech Szczesny palmed away smartly.
Predictably, Stoke looked to intimidate Arsenal, as Erik Pieters ploughed through Olivier Giroud with a late challenge; Whelan stamped on the striker earlier, and received no punishment at all. Also in the first half, Charlie Adam planted his studs on Mikel Arteta, and could have seen red.
In the second half, Peter Crouch had a fantastic chance to head, unmarked, past Szczesny, but wasted a great Adam cross by kicking the ball straight into the air. Crouch then engineered Stoke’s best chance, toeing a dropping ball back to Geoff Cameron to blast a yard wide.
On 68 minutes, Adam should have seen red for stamping on Giroud, but the referee was consistent in his incompetence.
Incompetence was the watchword of the match, as Laurent Koscielny handballed a Walters’ high ball, and kneed the winger in the chest, conceding a penalty. It was Walters who calmly slotted home the penalty to win the game.
In added time, Yaya Sanogo fired miles over when in space, but Stoke clearly deserved their victory.
34’ - ADAM FOUL: Charlie Adam challenges for a high ball with Arteta, introducing his studs into the Spaniard’s leg. The referee elects not to book or send him off.
37’ - WHELAN FOUL: So it is no surprise when Glenn Whelan stamps on Olivier Giroud, and the referee gives the foul to Stoke.
42’ - WHELAN SHOT: Whelan slices a ball towards goal, to deliberate get it to curl away from the keeper, but Szczesny is equal to the challenge.
43’ - CAZORLA SHOT: With a better option available to the left with Podolski, Cazorla shoots straight at Begovic.
44’ - PIETERS BOOKED: Erik Pieters goes in with another late challenge on Giroud, and the Stoke City Twitter account mocks him for being injured.
53’ - CROUCH’S FOLLY: A great cross from Adam on the left can be easily headed in by Peter Crouch, but he contorts himself into an odd attempted volley, kicking the ball four feet into the air.
66’ - CAMERON CHANCE: The ball drops from a corner, and Bacary Sagna fails to clear. Crouch knocks it back towards Cameron who volleys just wide.
68’ - ADAM STAMP: Adam stamps on Giroud’s leg as he’s on the floor, and isn’t punished.
76’ - WALTERS PENALTY: Koscielny handballs and fouls at the same time, allowing Walters the chance to send Szczesny the wrong way.
90+4' - SANOGO MISS: In miles of space after receiving an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pass, Yaya Sanogo skies Arsenal's late chance.
Arsenal's Yaya Sanogo (C) reacts after a missed opportunity during their English Premier League soccer match against Stoke City (Reuters)Reuters
Arsenal have only scored in the first half of three of their last 14 Barclays Premier League matches.
Arsenal have won none of the last four trips to the Britannia Stadium (W0 D2 L2).
Stoke have scored the joint-fewest headed goals this season (2).
The Potters have committed more fouls than any other team in the Premier League (360) and picked up the most cards (60 yellows and three reds).
Is Charlie Adam a footballer? A coward, yes. A violent presence on the pitch, yes. But after planting his studs in two different Arsenal players in the match, and with a history of violence to match Viggo Mortensen, it is hard to make a case for his continued presence on the football match. Arsenal were terrible, but given Stoke's behaviour on the pitch throughout, it might the case of football's first genuine moral victory.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Geoff Cameron (Stoke City): Resolute in defence, and a useful outlet going forward. None of the players on the pitch impressed but he was the least objectionable.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET