Arsenal made it two consecutive goalless draws to open their campaign as the Gunners and Stoke City played out a rather turgid affair at the Britannia.
For all the pre-match talk of grudge fixtures and Stoke’s physicality causing the problems that Tony Pulis’ men have done in the past to Arsenal, in truth there was very little fire and brimstone on show as both sets of defences dominated proceedings.
For Arsenal, the wait for a goal after Robin van Persie’s departure goes on and Arsene Wenger, though probably satisfied to come away with a point from a ground where the top four last season all failed to win, will have concerns with some of his side’s attacking play.
Although Santi Cazorla again impressed in a creative midfield role, fellow new boys Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud proved ineffective. Podolski, though a willing worker, became more anonymous as the match progressed and after drawing a very reasonable penalty shout when his close range shot hit Andy Wilkinson on the arm, offered little more of note.
Giroud, though able to hold the ball up, struggled with his touch on occasions, with his best effort coming from an optimistic long range shot late on that almost caught out Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. Arsenal fans will of course not need reminding of the sureness of touch that a certain Dutch international forward possessed.
Wenger will however take heart from his side’s defensive solidity. Marshalled superbly by Per Mertesacker and captain Thomas Vermaelen, the Gunners backline dealt with any possible threat from the home side and particularly Peter Crouch with a minimum of fuss. Indeed, Stoke’s set-pieces, which have caused Arsenal and many other teams so many problems, particularly at the Britannia, were rendered ineffective such was the defensive excellence of the visiting side.
Similarly, Pulis will also be pleased with his side’s defensive aptitude. With Ryan Shawcross in particular on top form alongside Robert Huth, any rare chance that the Arsenal forwards were afforded were quickly snuffed out.
Pulis will however, again much like his counterpart Wenger, perhaps have been a little concerned on his side’s relative lack of forward threat. There was certainly no bombardment of the opposition penalty box as you would expect from Stoke and in truth, bar a late half chance for Jonathan Walters, the Potters failed to muster a single true opportunity on goal.
With Arsenal handing a start to third choice keeper Vito Mannone, Pulis will be disappointed that the man making his first league appearance for the Gunners in three years was not tested more often.
However, all in all, both managers will likely be happy with a goalless draw and, ensuring their respective unbeaten starts to the Premier League season.
Stoke (4-4-2): Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Kightly, Cameron, Whelan (Palacios 81), Pennant (Jerome 65); Crouch (Shotton 79), Walters
Arsenal (4-3-3): Mannone; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Diaby, Arteta, Cazorla (Ramsey 81); Gervinho (Walcott 72), Podolski (Oxlade-Chamberlain 72), Giroud
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