Stoke City vs. Arsenal  0 - 0


Wenger keen to bolster stocks

26 August 2012 18:52

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed he expects to add to his squad before the end of the transfer window.

The Gunners failed to find the net for the second week running in the Premier League as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Stoke City on Sunday.

The French manager said he is open to the idea of boosting his ranks following the departure of Robin van Persie, but indicated he is unlikely to move for a defensive midfielder despite the sale of Alex Song.

"I'm pleased with what I have but yes, I anticipate doing something still, we're still in the market," Wenger told Sky Sports.

"Defensive midfielders we have.

"I don't know yet, it depends on the quality of players that are available, it's not necessity. If we find someone who can strengthen our squad with the quality that we want we'll do it in any position."

Wenger was frustrated by his side's failure to make their possession count at the Britannia Stadium but pointed out that the problem may have something to do with the amount of new players in his team.

"Overall I feel we had a solid performance, we were not in trouble defensively," he said. "We created some chances that we couldn't take, at the moment we're not taking our chances.

"But it was a solid game with a dominant spirit and overall I believe there are a lot positives but the negatives are that we couldn't score, now for two games.

"I believe we can't because we have a lot of new players, trying to find each other in the final third and it might take a little bit more time.

"Of course, the longer it lasts the more doubt creeps into the head of the striker but I think it will come."

Stoke boss Tony Pulis, meanwhile, also has an eye on the transfer market, believing his squad needs 'freshening up'.

Pulis mentioned only two specific targets, and is hoping to revive a deal for Tottenham midfielder Tom Huddlestone as well as push for Rangers' Maurice Edu.

"The Huddlestone deal was obviously going on on Friday, we've played a game and now we’ll hopefully re-visit that on Monday and see where we're at," he said.

"We're hoping to do that Edu deal with Rangers. There's some good players in America and they have great attitudes as well."

Pulis was happy to take a point from the tussle with Arsenal, but feels there is plenty of room for improvement.

"It was a good result," he said. "There's things we're not happy with and things we can do better, but we're playing a team that's on a different level to us and we can't get blase at this football club about just only getting a point.

"The attitude and the work rate of the players off the ball was very, very good but we have to do things a little bit better and we are capable of doing that."


Szczesny admits concentration problem

26 August 2012 18:32

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny says he often has difficulty staying focused in matches against smaller clubs.

The Pole, who missed Arsenal's 0-0 draw with Stoke on Sunday with a rib injury, silenced calls for boss Arsene Wenger to sign a new goalkeeper when he broke into the first team in January 2011, stringing together a series of impressive performances.

But a number of high-profile errors in the second half of last season, combined with a shaky Euro 2012 with Poland, have dented Szczesny's blooming reputation, and he admits he needs to work on his concentration.

"My biggest problem is not enough focus in the games without huge stakes. I can't find the spark in myself," he told The People.

Szczesny is eager to improve this side of his game, and wishes to remain with the North London side for the rest of his career.

Currently Szszesny is the undisputed number one keeper on the books at the Emirates, and the 22-year-old is determined to write his name into the history books at the club.

"My ambition is to get a bigger contract at Arsenal. I admire players like Paul Scholes and Paolo Maldini, the ones that spent their whole career at one club," he said.

"I dream of a similar scenario. I hope that when we sit down to have a chat 14 years from now it will be about my two decades at Arsenal."

Szczesny believes his finest performance to date came against Udinese in Arsenal's Champions League qualifying clash last season, during which he saved a penalty from Antonio Di Natale.

"The biggest save in my career was the penalty against Udinese in the Champions League qualifiers last season," he said.

"For one, it was a save worth 25 million pounds - that is how much you get for playing in the Champions League.

"That was the moment I was very much needed. It made me realise that I'm not only a good keeper, but I can have a big say on how we perform."


Arteta rues dropped points

26 August 2012 17:54

Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta says he regards his club's 0-0 draw against Stoke City as two points dropped.

The Spanish international expressed disappointment with the result but did praise the club's defensive organisation as they kept their second consecutive clean sheet.

Arsene Wenger's team have failed to find the target in those two matches, however, and Arteta acknowledged that stalemates were not good enough for a side with aspirations of challenging for the title.

"We are making chances, and the team looks very organised, but for me, we lost two points today," Arteta told Sky Sports.

"You know that if you concede fouls or throw-ins, you're in trouble, because they're going to put the ball in the box and they're really organised from set pieces.

"I don't think we conceded many chances today, and we looked organised, but that's not good enough for us."

Arteta was adamant, however, that new signings Lukas Podolski and Oliver Giroud will start firing in the goals sooner rather than later.

"I think as soon as we've played three, four, five games together, we will feel more fluent," he said. "They've got ability, quality, and they can score goals - we don't have any doubts about that.

"We need to get three points every game if we want to win the league, that's what we're here for and at the moment we're not doing it.

"But I think we can take some positives, and we can build on these results."


Premier League: Stoke City 0 Arsenal 0

26 August 2012 16:47

Stoke held Arsenal to a second consecutive goalless draw as the Gunners continued their uninspiring start to life without Robin van Persie.

The North London side dominated large periods of the game, with Santi Cazorla prominent in every attack but despite looking resolute in defence, their cutting edge in the final third deserted them at the vital moments.

Chances were few and far between throughout the encounter with new signing Olivier Giroud volleying over the best of Arsenal's opportunities while Jonathan Walters scuffed a shot at the other end in a lethargic 90 minutes.

Tony Pulis made two changes from the side held to a 1-1 opening day draw against Reading. Jermaine Pennant recovered from a knock to take his place on the wing with new signing Geoff Cameron making his debut in central midfield. Dean Whitehead and Matthew Etherington were the players to make way.

Arsene Wenger also made two changes to his Arsenal side which appeared to have more than a hint of physicality about it.

The big team news came in goal, with regular number one Wojciech Szczesny missing out with a rib injury, allowing Vito Mannone to make his first appearance of the season. Giroud was given his first start for the club at the Britannia.

Much of the pre-match build-up centred on discipline, with Pulis claiming Arsenal to be a 'dirtier' side than his own.

It was Arsenal however, who used Pulis' words as inspiration, settling into their trademark rhythmical passing game from the outset and moving the ball around with confidence and precision.

Stoke did provide a reminder of their aerial threat within the first five minutes, with Peter Crouch knocking the ball down for Walters to net from an offside position.

But the game's first real opening fell to Lukas Podolski, the German breaking into the penalty area only to see his left-footed shot deflected wide, seemingly by the outstretched hand of Andy Wilkinson.

Podolski was involved again shortly after - his slaloming run was ended by a Robert Huth block, with the resulting free-kick tamely fired into the wall and then wide by Cazorla.

Arsenal could have broken the deadlock a minute later, with Kieran Gibbs' clever overlapping run undermined by his misplaced clip across the six-yard box with Giroud well placed for a simple scoring chance.

Despite the Gunners' monopoly of possession, Stoke remained dangerous on the break with a strong run from Walters resulting in a Michael Kightly drive stinging the palms of Mannone.

Five minutes later, it was Stoke custodian Asomir Begovic's turn to be tested, having to push behind Cazorla's rising 25-yard drive.

It was a similar story at the start of the second period with the match largely being played in the Stoke half.

Pennant felt he should have had a penalty when his driving run into the area was halted by Gibbs but the appeals were rightly waved away by the referee.

At the other end, Giroud had Arsenal's best chance of the half, spectacularly bouncing the ball over Begovic's crossbar from Cazorla's beautifully flighted corner.

The introduction of England international duo Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain briefly injected some life into a tired-looking Arsenal side, with first Mikel Arteta blazing over when well-placed and Abou Diaby skewing wide after getting his legs in a tangle in the box.

But Walters could have nicked all three points for Stoke at the other end, scuffing a tame shot through to Mannone when set clear.

Giroud was agonisingly close to doing similar for the Gunners when his audacious 35-yard chip landed inches over Begovic's bar.

But a 0-0 draw was the right result for a solid Stoke performance and a muted Arsenal display as both sides continue their search for a first Premier League win of the season.


Pulis hits back at ´dirty Stoke´ tag

26 August 2012 02:41

Manager Tony Pulis feels that his Stoke City side are unfairly labelled as a dirty side.

Pulis also believes that the critics should instead take a look at Arsenal , their opponents on Sunday, as an example of poor discipline.

He pointed out that his squad boasted a better disciplinary record than the Gunners last season, with two red cards and 60 yellows compared to four red cards and 64 yellows for Arsene Wenger's charges.

The two managers have often clashed in the past, notably when Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey suffered a broken leg after a collision with Ryan Shawcross, but Pulis said the accusations of his side being rough are not right.

"People talk about us about us being a dirty team, yet we haven't had as many red cards or I haven't had as many red cards as a manager as Arsene Wenger has had as a manager," he told reporters.

"People always talk about me and Stoke City. Nobody ever talks about the situation with Wenger. There was a situation not so long ago when a lot of red cards were being dished out to Arsenal.

"Everybody seems to have forgotten about that. All we want is fairness and a balance. It is frustrating when you get labelled for this or that and people don't look at the other side of the coin."

Wenger spoke out in defence of Pulis' claims ahead of the match, noting that Arsenal finished seventh in the Fair Play table, which takes into account attitude towards officials, while Stoke came last.

"I think we did quite well in the Fair Play table," Wenger said.

"I don't know how they did, but we did quite well. It's not only about red cards, it's about the number of fouls."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25