Report: Stoke City 1-0 Arsenal

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Arsenal: Cech, Mustafi, Monreal, Kolasinac, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette

Subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Coquelin, Elneny, Iwobi, Walcott, Giroud

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Stoke debutant Jese Rodriguez scored 90 seconds into the second half to condemn Arsenal to their first defeat of the new campaign.

The Gunners dominated the match for large periods but were poor in and around the box and ultimately paid for their poor defending.

They might have had a penalty in the first half when Bellerin was taken out and Lacazette had a goal harshly ruled out for offside inside the final 20 minutes but it wasn’t to be on a frustrating afternoon in a notoriously difficult fixture.

First half

The first chance fell to the home side as new boy Jese evaded a ridiculous Mustafi lunge before testing Cech at close quarters.

Slick passing between Bellerin and Lacazette was a regular feature of the opening stages as the Gunners looked to create space behind the Stoke defence. On the right, Oxlade-Chamberlain was more direct, choosing to take on defenders at pace with varying degrees of success.

Our first real chance came on 16 minutes when Ramsey raced onto a dinked ball from Lacazette and squeezed a shot at Butland.

The Arsenal pressure kept mounting and two further cute passes over the top created chances for Welbeck, who shot straight at the keeper, and Bellerin who went down under pressure from Zouma. Replays showed it probably should have been a penalty, so a big f*ck you to ref Andre Mariner.

The action swung back and forth. Jese’s break, aided by some pathetic Arsenal tackling, created a chance for Choupo-Moting whose shot was tame. Ramsey’s volley at the back post after a brilliant free-kick by Chamberlain was saved by Butland. Shawcross then squandered a fine opportunity by heading over Cech’s bar.

For all the huff and puff neither side looked particularly decisive in the final third, not helped by torrential rain putting a literal dampener on the action.

Second half

While Arsenal continued their sloppiness after the break, Stoke were more lively and inside 90 seconds they capitalised on a poor pass by Xhaka to produce a goal-scoring attack. New boy Jese darted out of midfield played a one-two with substitute Berahino and fired low on the angle past Cech. (1-0)

With a lead to defend, Stoke sat back and soaked up Arsenal’s possession.Arsenal focused their attention on attacking down the left flank trying to get in behind Diouf and Zouma.

It was easier said than done, however, when they did find space they squandered their chances. Bellerin’s right foot shot forced Butland into a bumbling save, Welbeck’s header came off his shoulder and went over and Ramsey couldn’t get enough purchase on a Mustafi pull-back.

On the break, Stoke looked dangerous. Cech had to tip over a diving header by Berahino and the Gunners were lucky when Choupo-Moting could only hit the side netting.

Kolasinac made way for Giroud on 65 minutes and his first pass of the game fed Welbeck who should have scored. Butland, not for the first time, was quick off his line. The Arsenal pressure kept building. Ozil had Butland scurrying across his goal with two efforts.

On 72 minutes Arsenal finally put the ball in the back of the net and it was a decisive lashed finish by Lacazette. He looked level with his marker but the linesman flagged him off. No goal. Not long after our record-signing was taken off along with Xhaka. The final roll of the dice saw Iwobi and Walcott thrown on in their place.

Andre Mariner’s ineptitude continued to be a talking point as he failed to give a foul on Chamberlain and then left himself open to criticism when Mustafi subsequently went straight through Pieters (in typical Mustafi style) on the edge of the Arsenal box. Play continued despite Mark Hughes going ballistic.

Arsenal completely dominated possession by Stoke’s rear-guard effort was impressively resolute. In the fourth minute of injury time Giroud had a chance to snatch an equaliser but his header from Monreal’s cross skidded wide.

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