Despite the presence of £46-million Alexander Lacazette leading the front, Arsenal’s squad fell short of expectations and succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against a valiant Stoke side when the two sides met at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
The match has once again made evident Arsenal’s clear weakness without their enigmatic talisman Alexis Sanchez. In their opening match against Leicester, Arsenal could count themselves lucky to win 4-3 as the result could’ve really gone either way.
The Chilean forward has missed the Gunners’ first two league matches due to injury and isn’t ready to get back into action at least until the end of the month. Rampant speculation that the former Barcelona winger could make a move to PSG before the transfer window closes does not help boost morale, either.
Nevertheless, Arsenal kicked things off at the Britannia with attacking intent, cutting open Stoke’s defence a handful of times in the first half-hour. Welsh playmaker Aaron Ramsey made a couple of smart passes towards the box early on, creating chances for his teammates, only for the attack to fizzle out a few minutes later, unable to penetrate Stoke’s defence. Potters keeper Jack Butland also made a number of good saves to keep the score level
Stoke had a couple of chances during the first half as well, most notably a cross from Eric Choupo-Moting that finds Ryan Shawcross inside the box. The former United centre-back headed the ball in with aplomb, but it went wide in the end.
The first half would end goalless, but fans didn’t have to wait too long into the second half to get a goal in.
Stoke’s new signing Jese, on-loan from PSG, announced his arrival in England with style. After picking the ball up from the halfway line, the Spaniard drives the ball long towards Saido Berahino inside Arsenal’s half. The former West Brom target man then dribbles though the Arsenal defence with authority before smartly passing the ball back towards an arriving Jese, who slots the ball home and sends the home fans into a frenzy.
From there, Arsenal kick up the pressure in an effort to find an equalizer. Lacazette had a couple of chances at goal, even scoring in the 72nd minute, although the referee has disallowed the goal for offside. Replays would later show that the decision was a bad one.
Regardless, despite bringing in Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, despite the gulf in class between the two sides, despite the huge number of chances Arsenal have created, in the end, the Gunners still fell short and lost to a gritty Stoke side 1-0 at full time.