Stoke City 0 Arsenal 0: what we predicted and how it panned out
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What we predicted
With two fairly tight defences in opposition, we went for a low-scoring (1-1) draw…. Which isn’t all that different from a no-scoring draw, surely?
Overall, it wasn’t so much the actual defences that dominated as the two goalkeepers, with both Jack Butland and Petr Cech earning their corn to ensure a blank scoresheet.
Butland was the busier of the pair during the first half, racing off his line to foil Olivier Giroud and also tipping Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s drive over the bar.
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The Stoke keeper’s best stop arguably came right at the start of the second period, when he got down to claw away Giroud’s goalbound header, but thereafter it was mainly the home side who threatened to break the deadlock.
Cech dived to keep out two decent attempts from Joselu, as well as thwarting Bojan – and there was a late scare for Arsenal when Aaron Ramsey cleared Glenn Whelan’s glancing header off the line.
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Ibrahim Afellay might have netted the rebound, but Cech thrust out a leg to deny him and secure a draw that was no less – but also no more – than his side deserved.
Buy him a pint
We felt Hector Bellerin was probably the best performer among Arsenal’s outfield players, but it’s hard to look beyond the role played by Cech in securing a point.
Stoke may not pump as many high balls into the box as they did during the Tony Pulis era, but still enough to make it essential that a visiting goalkeeper at the Britannia Stadium commands his penalty area. Cech did.
Get your coat son
Laurent Koscielny was unusually sloppy at times and Nacho Monreal looked fairly uncomfortable as well, especially whenever Jon Walters embarked on a charge down the flank.
However, there’s no escaping the fact that Oxlade-Chamberlain put in another somewhat forgettable performance. Playing in a central role requires accurate passing – and he just can’t manage that consistently enough at the moment.
It’s got to be a save – Cech’s double stop to keep out Joselu and then Bojan.