On a cold night of August at Britannia Stadium Arsenal traveled to play Stoke Despite having more of the ball Arsenal couldn’t find the back of the net. Stoke scored through Jese and managed to secure 3 points. The first bump of the season.
Fast Forward to the return leg and we faced Stoke again this last Sunday. Though we had some First Half nightmares of the previous encounter.A turn around in the Second Half made sure that we not only won the fixture but pretty comprehensively.
Here are a few talking points from the fixture that are worth pointing out :
1. Emirates and the Fans
The low attendance at the Emirates continued. The official attendance showed around 60000 but contrary to it, too fans didn’t turn quite leaving the numbers around 30000 possibly. Adding to it the dismal first half attracted quite a few noises from the fans. Arsenal played out some poor paces, drawing discontent among the fans and went into half time amid an audible chant of boos from the barely present set of home supporters. Arsene later contributed it to it being the Easter Holiday and the fact that the time did not play for much in the League.
Attendance, atmosphere and football at Arsenal vs Stoke are literally the same as they were for the Espanyol vs Alaves game
— Patricio 🇸🇹🇬🇶 (@junho_pine) April 1, 2018
2. Sloppy in the First Half vs Stoke
Arsenal were sloppy in the first half and manged only one shot on target. It wasn’t until the 75th minute that the Arsenal fans had some some reason to celebrate when Auba scored the first goal from the spot. Chambers showed some improved performance along with Elneny who of lately has been really good and has seen his contribution to the team rewarded with a new contract. Decent performances from Bellerin and Mustafi meant Stoke had little of the chances. Stoke however had their best moment of the half when Shaqiri came close to scoring from a corner kick.
Latest–Arsenal vs Stoke: See Why Wenger was angry with his players
Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger has said he was not happy with his side’s lack of urgency, pace and drive against Stoke City in the first half of their 3-0 win on Sunday.
Wenger’s playe… https://t.co/QQMZCsXP1J
— GISTVIC WORLD (@gvicsocial) April 2, 2018
3.Europa League-The Last Hope
Well it seems like Wenger has finally shifted his focus on the Europa League possibly because his team is trailing the fourth placed team by a whooping 13 points . Wenger played Ospina which is quite rare in the premier League owing to Cech’s injury. He also decided to rest the likes of Mkhitaryan , Koscielny and Xhaka after the International Break. This shows that the trio would be starting the game against CSKA and that he intends to use them in full form for the game against the Russian side. He also made sure that Lacazette was given enough match time after recovering from the injury but remains pessimistic about his chances of starting for the game on thursday.
Enough said about the Changes made but one things for sure that Europa right now is definitely our only hope of getting into Champions League next season.
Arsenal are set to play CSKA Moscow on Friday at Anfield. With the return fixture scheduled on 13 of April.
4. Lacasset to the team
Alexandre Lacazette who last played in the north-London Derby was back in the team. Arsenal were struggling to break past Stoke when Lacazette came in as substitute and came on to produce a lively performance while winning and converting for the third goal.
According to Thiery Henry it was his addition that made the difference. He further added in his praise for the frenchman saying :
“When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went on the left and Lacazette came on as a No 9, he started to make runs that a No 9 should make.”
'For me, Lacazette changed the game when he came on.' pic.twitter.com/lWZaLVIA27
— Emery's new era 👏🏾 (@tomgunner14) April 1, 2018
The Frenchman was all praise for his compatriot .
“Making runs in behind, running the line, being available – as we saw with the penalty – and he does come and play with Mesut Ozil with that penalty,” said Henry. “He started to be the guy that they were looking for to make those penetrative runs. And Aubameyang got his chance when he went on the left and made that run”. “And for me, Lacazette changed the game when he came on.”
With Aubamayeng cup tied in Europa League ,all eyes would be on Lacazette during the Europa League.
5. Love Yo Pierre
Auba scored his fifth goal for Arsenal in six games becoming the first Gunner to do so. Auba picked up a nice partnership with Lacazette and this was evident when Aubamayeng offered Lacazette the penalty chance.
Aubameyang later explained the reason for giving away the penalty and how the penalty would be “good for his(Lacazette) confidence”
"I know that Laca is back and I scored twice so I can shoot but it's normal.
"I think it’s good for his [Lacazette's] confidence, it’s normal.”
– Auba on giving Lacazette the second penalty against Stoke pic.twitter.com/B4coE6YCcB
— AFTV (@AFTVMedia) April 2, 2018
This showed that both can play together in the same starting 11. This looks like the best front line we have had over the past few years.
“I know they have a good understanding,”
said Wenger of his two most expensive signings.
“”I like that. I think strikers who are generous are a rarity, and when you see it, you are very happy, because you know it will make the team much better.””
With Pierre restricted to only Premier League Games we can very well expect to see some spectacular finishing added to most of the goal scoring chances making it a treat for the supporters to watch.