If there is one game I hate to watch in a season it is Stoke away especially when it is wet and windy (which it always is in Stoke!)
In recent seasons we have struggled a lot having not beaten them at the Britannia since 2010 when Ramsey broke his leg. We always beat them at home though so it shows how much difference it makes playing home or away.
Stoke have the loudest fans in the league but they are particularly pumped up when they play us. This is because of the incidents that have happened in the previous games. It started when Ramsey broke his leg in a horror tackle from Shawcross and they got much abuse from it. Ramsey is still booed for some reason which I find stupid.
Also a few years ago Wenger and the players criticised Stoke saying they played like a rugby team and similar insults. This obviously didn’t go down well with them and they have disliked us ever since. Stoke fans responded by singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and belitting us for being weak and so the rivalry began.
It used to be the battle between technical football against physical football and it worked for them at home but now they have a much better technical team. Players like Bojan, Shaqiri and Arnautovic have changed the way they play completely but it has so far been for the better. They have beaten the top teams including Man City at home so they are definitely a strong team nowadays.
So it is a big game now and their biggest game of the season because they don’t have any real rivals like us. Team news was they didn’t have Shaqiri and we didn’t have our star players; Özil had a late injury setback and Sanchez was not risked but both should be available next week which will be good.
New signing Elneny also didn’t play but was on the bench. Perhaps he needs to be eased in to the league and it doesn’t get much harder than Stoke away!
The game itself was a tight contest with both teams fighting for every ball and the majority of the play was in the middle of the pitch.
However the few times it wasn’t in the middle of the pitch it was the game of the two goalkeepers as Butland and Cech saved everything.
Butland, England’s next number one, saved in form Giroud twice in each half and Cech was strong throughout especially in the second half. He saved us right at the end and proved once again how important he is and how crucial it is to have a world class keeper who wins you points. They both were interviewed at the end but it was Cech who got man of the match.
So after all the talk and excitement the game finished 0-0 and we went back to the top of the league on goal difference. However we are only 1 point ahead of Man City now so every game is even more crucial.
Next up is Chelsea at home which would normally be a very tough game but we should really beat them considering how they have played this year. But knowing Chelsea they will probably find a way to not lose!
Hopefully with Özil and Sanchez back and Mourinho no longer in charge we can get 3 points and make this the start of a really good run.