A toothless attack and a lackluster performance saw Arsenal going down to giant killers Stoke City by a solitary goal. Stoke had previously beaten Manchester United & Chelsea at home this season and Jonathan Walters’s penalty ensured Arsenal slipped further behind leaders Chelsea. In a robust encounter in which Olivier Giroud was given some particularly stern treatment, with Charlie Adam fortunate to escape punishment for one second-half challenge, the Gunners failed to sparkle. Chelsea’s victory over Fulham allowed the Blues to increase the gap at the top to four points, while Liverpool’s win at Southampton saw Brendan Rodgers’s side move above the Gunners and into second.
Starting with both Giroud & Podolski up front didn’t provide any of the attacking prowess we needed in terms of goals. It looked as if the game at the Britannia Stadium would remain goalless after a series of wasted chances, but Walters converted his spot-kick with 14 minutes remaining after Laurent Koscielny had handled (although it clearly was not intentional). Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil came off the bench in the second half and came close to equalising eight minutes from the end, before Yaya Sanogo fired over from eight yards in stoppage time.
So what now Wenger? We sit at 3rd in the league and that’s only because Manchester City has not played their 2 games in hand and are in action in the League Cup. Arsenal’s continuing misery at Stoke will hardly lift their spirits ahead of a crucial month in which their title challenge could be decided as they face Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City in the space of two weeks. 4th place looks like a likely finish for the Gunners.