In truth, a comfortable win in the end. 3 well-worked goals with Gervinho influential in all 3. After dominating the first, egregious defending allowed Stoke to equalise. Again, Gervinho had a part to play. Defending a Stoke free-kick, he was isolated on the left-hand side of the box with 2 Stoke players to mark. He called to his team mates which only resulted in him getting the ‘hand’ instead of a hand from Chamakh. Gervinho then failed to track the deep run from Shawcross who headed across goal unchallenged. A second header at the far post and the ball fell to Crouch who tucked away from 1 metre out. Poor defending but the free-kick that preceded it was highly debatable. Koscielny rose like ‘un saumon’ and hung in the air to win a fine defensive header against Crouch. Inexplicably, Lee Mason (remember him last season from Everton at home and Blackpool away) blew for a free-kick.
As expected, the only threat from Stoke was the long throw-in from Delap. It is almost as if Stoke have adopted the American Football approach of special teams as all Delap does is take long throws – thankfully, they can’t follow the model completely and keep him on the sideline until required though I expect Pulis will suggest this to the FA. In any case, Stoke’s ‘line-out practice’ failed to materialise in a direct goal threat as the Gooners’ defence dealt with the aerial threat no doubt helped by having an additional centre-half as Djourou was at right-back.
Delap was substituted in the second-half and with him went Stoke’s creativity. A cliché, I know, but worth repeating nevertheless.
A good win. RvP took the media plaudits by coming off the bench to score twice, But my MotM was Gervinho. Arsene should produce a DVD of his contribution and give it to Theo so he can find out what he should be doing!