Arsenal 1 Stoke City 0 - A clean sheet at last
Report of match 2nd February 2013
Stoke came for the draw and failed thanks to Podolski's late winner. Pulis moans - as usual.
This odious man lived up to his reputation and his team of cloggers did their best to get the draw by not playing football. Lukas Podolski had other ideas though and our lads took a deserved three points.
New boy Nacho Monreal impressed on his debut - there's definitely more to come from him as he slots into the side.
This was not a game we could afford to lose - our poor recent run of form has seen out dropping out of touch with our rivals for fourth place. Unless we can find some consistency from somewhere we're destined for Thursday night football next season.
Here's the report:
Lukas Podolski's deflected free-kick proved the difference on Saturday as Arsenal eked out a much-needed victory against Stoke.
After securing just five points from as many Barclays Premier League matches, the Gunners were in danger of losing ground on the top four coming into the game.
Arsene Wenger's side looked set for another frustrating day at the office on Saturday - thanks in no small part to an outstanding display by Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
The 25-year-old proved why he is so sought-after with a fine first-half display in which he superbly denied Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain either side of stopping a Laurent Koscielny header.
It was those in front of Begovic that came to the fore in a second half in which it looked like City's stubborn defence would help end a run of 10 successive defeats in league and cup at Arsenal.
However, substitute Podolski ended those hopes 12 minutes from time with a low free-kick that deflected in off Geoff Cameron.
The Gunners made five changes for this afternoon's match, with deadline-day signing Nacho Monreal handed his debut.
The Spain international replaced the injured Kieran Gibbs at left-back in an Arsenal side that started much better than they had against Liverpool in midweek.
Robert Huth blocked early threatening balls from Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere, before Oxlade-Chamberlain, making his first league start since January 13, struck wide.
Wilshere blazed over after a Walcott cutback failed to find a team-mate as Arsenal continued to press for an early goal.
It took 15 minutes for Wojciech Szczesny to best tested by Stoke.
Jonathan Walters' strike from distance was comfortably dealt with by the Poland international, who then watched a Peter Crouch snapshot deflect off Koscielny and out for a corner.
There were rare moments of relief for a Stoke side on the backfoot, with Olivier Giroud heading a Abou Diaby cross into the ground when Arsenal returned to the attack.
Andy Wilkinson then blocked a right-footed strike from Walcott and, after Ryan Shawcross sent over a wayward volley, City goalkeeper Begovic came to the fore.
First the Bosnia international denied Oxlade-Chamberlain from close range after a Wilshere corner fell straight into his path.
Begovic was the scourge of Arsenal once again in the 34th minute, denying a Koscielny header with another block.
Four minutes from the break the Stoke goalkeeper was at it again.
Wilshere played an exquisite through ball to Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose curled effort looked destined to ripple the net until Begovic superbly palmed wide.
Arsenal continued to press for the opener as half-time approached, but the only action of note was a clash of heads between Monreal and Walters.
The latter got a bloody head in the challenge, but was patched up with a bandage similar to the one donned by team-mate Huth.
The German centre-back was called into action shortly after play resumed for the second half, rising well to stop Giroud bundling home a Monreal cross.
Giroud fired wide under pressure soon after but Arsenal's attacks were becoming less frequent.
Wenger brought on Santi Cazorla and Podolski in a bid to inject new life into his side's attack, with Diaby and Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced.
The introduction of the Spaniard almost had an immediate impact as Cazorla sent in a floated cross to Giroud, but the Frenchman was unable to direct his header on target.
Glenn Whelan picked up a booking as City looked to hold off the hosts, who finally took the lead in the 78th minute.
Wilkinson received a yellow card for bringing down Walcott on the edge of the box, allowing substitute Podolski to send a low free-kick that deflected in off Cameron's heel.
It had looked like the goal would be chalked off for an apparent offside against Walcott, but, after consulting with his assistant, referee Chris Foy awarded the goal.
Cazorla came close to making it 2-0 shortly afterwards, only for Begovic to get the slightest touch to send it behind.
Michael Owen, Kenwyne Jones and Cameron Jerome all came on for the final stages at Tony Pulis looked for a leveller, which never came in a heated end to the game.
Shawcross was booked for a late challenge on Koscielny and Owen looked to aim a punch at Mikel Arteta after a late challenge by the Spaniard.
|Competition: Barclays Premier League Kick Off: 15:00 Venue: Ashburton Grove Attendance: 59,872|
|1 - 0||Stoke City
|90+5||Kenwyne Jones gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Laurent Koscielny. Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.|
|90+3||Foul by Michael Owen on Mikel Arteta, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.|
|89||Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nacho Monreal by Cameron Jerome. Aaron Ramsey on for Theo Walcott. Direct free kick taken by Laurent Koscielny.|
|88||Laurent Koscielny fouled by Ryan Shawcross, the ref awards a free kick. Ryan Shawcross booked. Mikel Arteta takes the free kick.|
|79||Santi Cazorla takes a shot. Ryan Shawcross gets a block in. Santi Cazorla takes a shot. Blocked by Ryan Shawcross.|
|82||Foul by Laurent Koscielny on Peter Crouch, free kick awarded. Kenwyne Jones comes on in place of Peter Crouch. Cameron Jerome on for Jonathan Walters. Michael Owen on for Geoff Cameron. Direct free kick taken by Ryan Shawcross.|
|80||Inswinging corner taken by Jack Wilshere, clearance made by Ryan Shawcross.|
|79||Santi Cazorla takes a shot. Asmir Begovic makes a save. Short corner taken by Theo Walcott.|
|75||Unfair challenge on Theo Walcott by Andy Wilkinson results in a free kick. Andy Wilkinson is shown a yellow card. Lukas Podolski scores a goal direct from the free kick from just outside the box low into the middle of the goal. Arsenal 1-0 Stoke.|
|74||Peter Crouch is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Laurent Koscielny.|
|73||Nacho Monreal takes a shot from long range which goes wide of the right-hand upright.|
|71||Headed effort from inside the box by Olivier Giroud misses to the right of the target.|
|69||Glenn Whelan gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Santi Cazorla. Glenn Whelan receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour. Jack Wilshere takes the direct free kick.|
|68||Bacary Sagna challenges Matthew Etherington unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Matthew Etherington, clearance by Per Mertesacker.|
|67||Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain goes off and Lukas Podolski comes on. Santi Cazorla is brought on as a substitute for Vassiriki Diaby.|
|63||Ryan Shawcross produces a left-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the target.|
|61||The assistant referee signals for offside against Geoff Cameron. Laurent Koscielny takes the indirect free kick.|
|55||Shot from deep inside the area by Olivier Giroud clears the crossbar.|
|51||Ryan Shotton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Free kick taken by Jack Wilshere.|
|50||Robert Huth gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere. Mikel Arteta takes the direct free kick.|
|48||Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Theo Walcott, Asmir Begovic makes a save.|
|46||Unfair challenge on Mikel Arteta by Peter Crouch results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.|
|40||Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain takes a shot. Save by Asmir Begovic. Inswinging corner taken by Jack Wilshere, Steven Nzonzi manages to make a clearance. Inswinging corner taken by Theo Walcott from the left by-line, clearance by Peter Crouch.|
|38||Olivier Giroud is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Asmir Begovic takes the free kick.|
|34||Laurent Koscielny takes a shot. Save by Asmir Begovic.|
|33||Corner taken by Theo Walcott from the left by-line, Peter Crouch manages to make a clearance.|
|30||Corner taken left-footed by Jack Wilshere from the right by-line, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain takes a shot. Asmir Begovic makes a save. Corner taken by Theo Walcott from the left by-line, clearance by Peter Crouch.|
|29||Foul by Ryan Shawcross on Olivier Giroud, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.|
|29||Effort on goal by Ryan Shawcross from just outside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.|
|25||Theo Walcott takes a shot. Andy Wilkinson gets a block in. Geoff Cameron fouled by Mikel Arteta, the ref awards a free kick. Asmir Begovic restarts play with the free kick.|
|22||Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Jack Wilshere from the right by-line, Asmir Begovic makes a save.|
|21||Shot by Glenn Whelan from outside the box goes high over the target.|
|20||Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain takes a shot. Blocked by Ryan Shawcross. The referee blows for offside against Olivier Giroud. Asmir Begovic takes the free kick.|
|17||Ryan Shawcross has a headed effort at goal from just inside the penalty area that misses to the right of the goal. Unfair challenge on Theo Walcott by Andy Wilkinson results in a free kick.|
|16||Peter Crouch takes a shot. Blocked by Laurent Koscielny. Inswinging corner taken by Matthew Etherington from the right by-line.|
|14||Header from close range by Olivier Giroud misses to the right of the target.|
|13||Jonathan Walters takes a shot. Save by Wojciech Szczesny.|
|12||Free kick awarded for a foul by Matthew Etherington on Theo Walcott. Free kick taken by Bacary Sagna.|
|6||Jack Wilshere takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Geoff Cameron. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Jack Wilshere from the right by-line to the near post, Glenn Whelan makes a clearance.|
|4||Shot by Jack Wilshere from outside the box goes over the target.|
|1||Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the area and misses to the left of the target.|
|1||Geoff Cameron gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere. Mikel Arteta takes the direct free kick.|