The way I see it - Stoke City v Arsenal

Last updated : 22 January 2010 By Jason Hogan

You know, I use to work in Project Management and I have to say I loved it. The environment was so cut and thrust and being Project Management you had a schedule of targets to reach by certain date and once achieved you call them milestones.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, given that we were trounced by the PRF back in November we have gone on to achieve one heck of milestone. It can't be understated by the Arsenal fans and I cannot congratulate the team enough. Given that the theme of this article is about the cup I guess it's only to include the cup game against West Ham and say that we have gone 10 games unbeaten. And if, for example, it's good enough for a radio commentator to hail Birmingham's unbeaten run (approximately 15 games) as showing unquestionable character after adversity, then it is bloody well good enough for us after 10 games.

Will I get carried away with all this? Hell no. I am far too long in the tooth neither to be pessimistic nor wildly optimistic. I just remember what everybody (and I mean everybody) outside of the Club was saying at the start of the season.

When Adebayor and Toure were sold, we were considered to be dead in the water and in grave danger of missing out on the top four altogether. I make no apologies for drawing reference to the yet again because if anything this only highlights the gravity of our achievement. Where were the goals going to come from? Who was going to effectively replace Toure's presence, speed and accumulated experience? Well, 82 goals from 16 different goal scorers (in all competitions) and a certain Thomas Vermaelen were the succinct answers to those questions.

Still an Arsenal victory is never quite a great Arsenal victory without a hefty dollop of controversy, is it? And William Gallas was right in the middle of it.

Tomas Rosicky had managed to pull a goal back for us just before the break and early in the second half a mistimed lunge from Gallas left Mark Davies in a heap. The ref missed it and seconds later, Fabregas scored and we were all square. Bolton were incensed none more so than Jaskeleinen. His histrionic protests apparently prompted the home crowd to jeer him and NOT the stricken Mark Davies as it was reported in the press.

After Vermaelen and Arshavin went on to secure both the points and top spot, Owen Coyle made no attempt to hide his emotions after the game. He labelled the challenge as an "assault" and moaned that it had changed the game.

Funny that. Back in 2003 I vividly remember not one, not two but THREE Arsenal players having to be substituted through injury - in the space just 15 MINUTES!!

I have watched thousands of games in my lifetime and I solemnly swear that I have never seen a similar thing occur before or since that game.

Anyway, of the three wounded Arsenal players was Freddie Ljungberg. How was he hurt? By a late lunge by Jay- Jay Okocha. Was Okocha reprimanded for the tackle? The referee didn't even speak to him about it! Did the series of injuries disrupt our rhythm and change the game? You bet your life it did!

Bolton came back from 2-0 down to acquire a 2-2 draw. Now after the game, did Bolton or Fat Sam Allardyce come out and apologise for Okocha's tackle? No chance.

Did they give two hoots about how it changed the game? Fuck no!!

And as for the press, who made no reference to Okocha's tackle or our other injuries by way of mitigation, they bloody loved it - almost as much as Allardyce and the Bolton fans. They all were prepared to label us as Southern Softies, they dined out on the perceived notoriety Wenger gave them, every positive result they got against us was memorable and they were never bothered in the slightest by how they got them.

Well, my degenerate Lancastrian shit kicking friends, I'm afraid what has gone around has come around. Allardyce liked to refer to you as "Little Bolton" when speaking in the context of upsetting Arsenal.

Historical happenings and ill-feeling (at least from me) almost demands that fixtures between us and them turn into grudge matches. But after beating them on Wednesday, I believe we have not lost to them in the last seven meetings. I would like to suggest that they fuck off back to their northern hovels, eat some undercooked hotpot (choking uncontrollably I hope) and deal with that.

Now, having restored my calm, it's time to look forward to our fourth round FA Cup trip to The Brittania where we will face Stoke.

Having played Bolton twice in a few days I guess it is a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire for Arsenal. If Bolton are the original kick and rush cheap shot merchants then in a footballing sense, this lot are their disciples.

We have a bit of history with the Potters and I am not talking about the semi-final we had with them back in the early seventies either. Robin Van Persie was dismissed up there for an ill advised confrontation with their keeper. Walcott busted a shoulder in the very same game.

I remember all too well mentioning that last season's league fixture wasn't the first I looked out for the previous summer but it was one I was absolutely dreading nevertheless. We didn't play them until November but deep down, I already knew how that game would pan out even in August.

I remember having resigned knowing expression on my face when Ricardo Fuller gave them the lead from (surprise, surprise) a long throw from Mr Delap. When Abdoullah Faye made it two via the same route, it was case of turn out the lights, pull up the chairs and make sure the door didn't hit you on the way out of there.

The word is that Wenger is going to use his squad players for the game. They will have to be resolute and ready for what Stoke are going to throw at them that's for sure. I will be intrigued to see how we line up and more importantly how we perform. I don't know if the players will be up for the game but you can bet your bottom dollar that the Potters fans will be. They will raise the roof on Sunday.

Lets hope that in kind, the Arsenal lads can raise their game.