There are footballing sides that deserve respect and there are some that quite simply don't, and Stoke fit snugly into the latter category. I have never understood the English media's love of Stoke City and Tony Pulis, they represent all that is dire and negative in the English game. Today they did not disappoint in this regard, there were endless long balls and hoofing, there was plenty of falling to ground easily (Crouch the chief culprit), there was time wasting from early on and there was very little attempt to play what most of us would call football in the true sense of the word.
Stoke were utterly outclassed today and got exactly what they deserved, precisely f*ck all. Although our nerves were a little jangled at 1-1 when Stoke undeservedly scored following some poor defending, it should be remember that Stoke should never have got the joke free kick that led to the goal. Crouch was cheating yet again, his theatrical reaction to losing a header won it, Shawcross was not marked from the subsequent free kick and he headed in back across goal, we lost another header, Crouch then tapped home the knock down.
It had been one way traffic until Stoke equalised, our passing and movement had been decent, several chances came and went, Ramsey was very close with a thumping drive from the edge of the box having been set up by the outstanding Gervinho. It was then Ramsey's turn to repay the favour, he dinked the ball through to Gervinho, the Ivorian's chest control and powerful left footed drive gave us the 1-0 lead that our play deserved.
The midfield worked well together all day, the three of Song-Arteta-Ramsey had a nice balance of power and guile, they knocked the ball around neatly and never allowed Stoke much time to breath. If there was to be a criticism today then it had to be of Theo Walcott and Chamakh. We were not incisive enough in the final third, part of this was down to Chamakh's mediocrity and lack of cutting edge, while Theo's movement was a tad predictable and one dimensional for me.
Gervinho has brilliant all game long and it was his direct attacking play that set up RVP for our second and third goals. Arsene must take some credit for introducing the Dutchman at the right time. For our second goal, Gervinho expertly jinked outside his man on the right flank and supplied a brilliant cutback that RVP cleverly knocked home. While for the third he strode past his man in the inside left position and cut the ball back again for RVP to tap home, perhaps Begovic should have done better too. The sub Arshavin also added something that Theo had failed to.
Overall I was generally very impressed by today's performance, we looked a good side and a bit spark was appearing in our passing game, our players are definitely looking more of a unit and the new signings have made a lot of progress since their arrivals a few weeks back. It was excellent to see the football team win and Stoke comprehensively outplayed. The main area we need to improve in is in the final third, Theo needs to up his game and we need our squad strikers to provide more depth behind our leader RVP. Well done the Gunners, I hope we keep building momentum and grow as the season progresses.