English Premiership

Stoke dent Gunners' title bid

2014-03-01 20:02
Jon Walters (AFP)

Stoke-on-Trent - Arsenal's English Premiership title challenge has suffered a major setback as they crashed to a shock 1-0 defeat at Stoke following Jon Walters' late penalty on Saturday.

Having missed four of his previous six penalties, Republic of Ireland international Walters showed nerves of steel to slot home with 14 minutes remaining after Laurent Koscielny was adjudged to have handled inside the area.

Leaders' Chelsea's victory at Fulham meant the Gunners now trail Jose Mourinho's team by four points as they made the worst possible start to a month manager Arsene Wenger had claimed in the build-up would define their season.

Arsenal have now won just once in their last eight trips to the Britannia Stadium and, although this was the first time they had come up against Mark Hughes in the home dugout, the game retained the same feisty edge it became famed for when his predecessor Tony Pulis was in charge.

Gunners striker Olivier Giroud was less than impressed after twice appearing to be trod on -- first by Glenn Whelan and then Charlie Adam -- yet both incidents went unpunished by referee Mike Jones.

Wenger's side could have few complaints with the outcome, however, after serving up a sub-standard display which left big question marks hanging over their seemingly faltering title bid.

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil returned to the Gunners' squad after recovering from a dead leg, however the Germany international had to settle for a place on the bench and made little impact when introduced in the second half.

The win continued Stoke's excellent record at home against the big sides as they made the Gunners their latest scalp, having previously beaten Manchester United and Chelsea and drawn with Manchester City.

There is now a six-point cushion between them and the relegation zone.

There has certainly been no love lost between these clubs since the controversial Ryan Shawcross challenge four years ago which left Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey with a broken leg.

Despite Ramsey's absence, it was soon clear the incident was far from forgotten by both sets of supporters as they fervently voiced support for their respective player.

Events on the pitch failed to match the intensity on display in the stands in the early stages and, even when the game's first noteworthy moment came along in the 15th minute, Walters's glancing header which crept agonisingly past the post was adjudged offside.

The visitors' first opening arrived three minutes later when Santi Cazorla created space for himself on the edge of the penalty area only to curl over the crossbar.

As has so often been the case in games between these sides, it was a bruising battle, particularly for Giroud.

The France striker found himself unfortunate to be penalised for a challenge in which he was left in a heap after being caught by Whelan's studs before being poleaxed by Erik Pieters.

Peter Crouch spurned a golden opportunity shortly after the restart when, unmarked, he failed to connect cleanly with an Adam free-kick.

It was Crouch who posed the biggest threat at either end and the towering striker could count himself unlucky when his angled header was superbly tipped around the post by Wojciech Szczesny following Marko Arnautovic's inviting delivery.

An even better opportunity came along from the resulting corner as Bacary Sagna failed to clear his lines inside the area and the ball fell invitingly for Geoff Cameron six yards out, only for him to divert it wide.

Adam could count himself fortunate to escape without sanction when he appeared to trample on Giroud and Arsenal's frustration was compounded when Koscielny clumsily handled as Walters attempted to lift the ball over him.

Walters sent Szczesny the wrong way his spot kick and Arsenal wasted a chance to equalise deep into stoppage-time when Yaya Sanogo fired over the crossbar from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross.

Read more on:    arsenal  |  stoke city  |  english premiership  |  soccer

United confirm Blind signing

2014-09-01 22:29


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

13 September 2014
Arsenal v Manchester City, Emirates Stadium 13:45
Stoke City v Leicester City, Britannia Stadium 16:00
Crystal Palace v Burnley, Selhurst Park 16:00
Southampton v Newcastle United, St. Mary's Stadium 16:00
Sunderland v Tottenham Hotspur, Stadium of Light 16:00
Chelsea v Swansea City, Stamford Bridge 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Everton, The Hawthorns 16:00
Liverpool v Aston Villa, Anfield 18:30
14 September 2014
Manchester United v Queens Park Rangers, Old Trafford 17:00
15 September 2014
Hull City v West Ham United, The KC Stadium 21:00
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Is Louis van Gaal the right man to restore the glory days at United?

Love 2 Meet
Featured Blog

Dave ask if you would like to meet your local sports heroes and stand the chance to win prizes to the value of over R40 000.

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.