Arsenal draw blank at Stoke
Gunners on top but fail to find the breakthrough
Last Updated: 26/08/12 5:10pm
Arsenal failed to score for the second successive Premier League game as they were unable to break down an organised Stoke side at the Britannia Stadium.
Having drawn a blank in their season opener against Sunderland at the Emirates, the Gunners dominated possession without truly testing home goalkeeper Asmir Begovic on Sunday afternoon.
Arsene Wenger's men had 13 attempts at goal, with only two of those on target, and forced 11 corners to the home side's zero, but the constant probings of playmaker Santi Cazorla came to nothing.
The Gunners were forced to make a change in goal with Vito Mannone coming in for rib injury victim Wojciech Szczesny, with the stand-in shot-stopper coping well with what he had to deal with.
Olivier Giroud went close with an audacious attempted lob from out wide on the left late on, but he would have been better off passing to Aaron Ramsey through the middle, with the Gunners substitute inexplicably booed by the home fans when he came off the bench.
Moment of the match: Olivier Giroud attempted an audacious lob over Asmir Begovic in the closing stages from distance and out wide on the left. He was only narrowly off target, but failed to spot Aaron Ramsey in space through the middle.
Pass of the match: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain produced an excellent turn and first-time ball while out on the left flank to release Giroud which cut through the Stoke defence.
Save of the match: Asmir Begovic had to plunge to his right to fist away a long-range effort from Santi Cazorla in the first half which was swerving wickedly once it left the Spaniard's boot.
Talking points: After drawing a blank in their opening two matches, how long will it take Arsenal to adjust to life without Robin van Persie? Will Stoke be able to improve on their standing of last season without the additional distraction of the Europa League?
There was a distinct edge as the game got under way with Arsenal booed by the home fans and Wenger singled out as both sides looked to settle in an intimidating atmosphere.
The animosity dates back to an incident two and a half years ago when Ramsey's leg was badly broken in a tackle from Stoke's Ryan Shawcross, and the mood was evident as both sides went in search of their first league win of the season.
Geoff Cameron, who played against Mexico for the United States last week, started brightly with a testing long throw in the style of substitute Rory Delap before he released a good ball down the right hand side as the hosts dominated the early exchanges.
The Potters had an early effort chalked off as Jonathan Walters strayed offside but good linking play with strike-partner Peter Crouch gave the home fans something to cheer in the opening exchanges.
Arsenal then began to enjoy the majority of possession in midfield and displayed warning signs as they began to press, but like last weekend's goalless draw against Sunderland, they lacked a cutting edge.
They missed two good chances in the opening 20 minutes as Lukas Podolski was unable to overpower a stumbling Andy Wilkinson to open his account before Kieran Gibbs' ball to the far post went begging, just inches away from the German striker.
Cazorla began to pull the strings in midfield for the Gunners after he struck a poor free-kick into the bottom of the wall, but the game continued to ebb and flow with Stoke looking to steal an advantage on the counter-attack.
Walters was a threat on the right and he almost teed up Michael Kightly for the opener but Arsenal goalkeeper Mannone made a comfortable save from 20 yards.
Arsenal then began to dominate with Cazorla weaving passes as Podolski pushed on, before the former Malaga midfielder forced a diving save from Stoke keeper Begovic with a 25-yard effort.
"Santi Cazorla's come in and been exceptional but he didn't do a lot in the second half and for me those two (Giroud and Podolski) aren't in the same league as Van Persie."
Jamie Redknapp on Arsenal's strikeforce Quotes of the week
Cazorla and Giroud then linked up well and threatened the Stoke goal but some calm defending by Shawcross neutralised the Arsenal threat with the sides locked at 0-0 at the break.
Arsenal got back into their stride early in the second half and continued to look more threatening but it was Stoke who had a penalty appeal turned down in the 58th minute.
Gibbs tangled with Pennant as he raced down the right with the Stoke winger going down on the edge of the box, but referee Lee Mason waved away their appeals and signalled a goal kick.
Stoke looked to be playing further up the pitch in a bid to take the attack to Arsenal but it opened them up at the other end, with Wilkinson flying into a wild challenge on Gunners defender Thomas Vermaelen on the edge of the box.
The Stoke wall denied Arteta's free-kick as Arsenal's free-flowing game was stunted by the home side, mirrored from the set-piece as unmarked striker Giroud miscued a volley from Cazorla's corner from the middle of the box.
Wenger was left with his head in his hands when Arteta's 20-yard shot flew wide before Abou Diaby had too much time to think and stumbled over a close-range effort.Arsenal went close again as the clock ticked down with Giroud's long-range effort skimming the top of the crossbar, but the Gunners were left frustrated as they could only take a point back to the Emirates after another disappointing result.
|Stoke City||Team Statistics||Arsenal|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|1||Shots on Target||2|
|3||Shots off Target||11|
|28.1||1st Half Poss.||71.9|
|36.5||2nd Half Poss.||63.5|
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Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|
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