Arsenal 4 – 1 Stoke: End of Season Finale…

Morning All,

It’s been a very sunny bank holiday weekend so far, and of course, we all hope that today will be the same. For those of you who had a chance to go to the game yesterday or had a chance to watch the game or highlights on TV, then you’d appreciate the carnival atmosphere that was prevalant yesterday. The march, organised by REDaction, had an amazing turnout with thousands of Arsenal fans joining in the support of Arsene.

Pre-game, the sun was shining and smiles all round. When the line-up was announced there were a few confused people, seeing a 4-5-1 formation named, but as soon as the game started, it was clear to see that it was a 4-3-3, very much intent on attacking… the line up was:

Mannone

Sagna – Toure – Song – Gibbs

Denilson – Cesc – Diaby

Walcott – Van Persie – Arshavin

With the fluidity of the team, players seemed to move around different positions with ease, and attacking wise, it was masterful. The background noise pre-game was the omission of Adebayor through a groin injury – something reported by Arsene but not substatiated by the medical staff.

The game started well with the home team obviously ready to attack and it looked the order of the day was to put on a show, the pressure was off and the boys duly applied the pressure. So much pressure, that the first goal came through an own goal by none other than Stoke’s player of the season, Beattie. It was 2-0 surely after as Van Persie was fouled in the area and scored his 19th from the penalty spot, before his pinpoint free kick saw Diaby head the ball in emphatically to make it 3-0 within 20 minutes.

Ricardo Fuller was the only player on the Stoke side with anything really menacing going forward, and won a penalty and converted it to make it 3-1 – Fuller not being in the good books having feigned injury earlier on. An instant reply from Van Persie made it 4-1 after a very bad header back to the header was intercept and volleyed into the back of the net by Van Persie. And the scoreline of 4-1 doesn’t tell the story of the first half – it could have been twice as much as Walcott, Arshavin and Van Persie were simply electric.

Van Persie hasn’t scored a free kick since I can remember and he nearly broke his duct as his free kick crashed back off the bar, a subsequent over head kick by Arshavin saved by the replacement keeper – Simonsen having been substituted on the 20 minute (3-0 down) mark.

The second half was full of chances, although, it was also clear that Stoke were on a damage limitation mode. Vela, Bendtner and Eboue all came on for three stars of the first half in Sagna, Vela and Walcott. The England man due to play for both the Under 21′s and the full national side over the coming months – more on that later – but here’s what Arsene said about the game:

“It was good to let the team get some credit. I believe we played during the whole season in a difficult position but overall it was good to finish well and have the crowd happy before we start next season. At Man United and today it was important for us not to play sloppy and to give a message out that we can come back next year and be strong.”

And experience has been surely gained by the ups and downs this season and we, as fans, have seen the becoming of players such as Song, Gibbs and a vast improvement in Denilson and Bendtner. The manager reflecting on the season:

“The difficult thing for a manager is feeling that the team has stood still. I feel that we had to re-find a balance after the departures of Hleb and Flamini and the injury to Rosicky. We had a little bit of a dodgy start but in the last 23 games we only lost once against Chelsea here.”

 
The manager’s decision not to add to the squad seems decisive in terms of our progress this season, but he’s ready to add to the squad in order to challenge for next season:

“I feel the team is moving forward but the question we have to analyse now is are we strong enough to win the League next year? If not, what do we need to add to the squad? That is the basic question we have to answer. There is some great quality here, that is for sure. The squad is very young, that is for sure as well.”

And finally, Arsene spoke on the support by the fans, who were all very vocal during the game and noted by the gaffer:

“It makes me feel appreciated and even more regretful that we couldn’t give them what they wanted this season. I am very respectful for their faith in me. It’s very warming and it makes me even more determined to pay them back.”

That’s it for today… there’s a picture special coming soon for the end of season finale… in the meantime, relax, put your feet up and get ready for the summer of speculation!

 

Arsenal: Mannone, Sagna (Eboue 57), Toure, Song Billong, Gibbs, Diaby, Fabregas, Denilson, Arshavin (Vela 71), van Persie, Walcott (Bendtner 46).
Subs Not Used: Szczesny, Ramsey, Silvestre, Djourou.

Booked: Denilson.

Goals: Beattie 10 og, van Persie 16 pen, Diaby 18, van Persie 41.

Stoke: Simonsen (Sorensen 21), Wilkinson, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Dickinson, Lawrence, Diao (Pugh 64), Whelan, Delap, Beattie, Fuller (Cresswell 69).
Subs Not Used: Olofinjana, Kelly, Tonge, Sonko.

Goals: Fuller 31 pen.

Att: 60,082

Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

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  • Arsefan101

    A 60,000+ attendance for the final game of the season when it was pretty much meaningless shows the support of the fans in my opinion… if I could have gone, I would have done anything to have been there. All of this paper talk about the fans is just that – paper talk – Arsene knows we’re behind him 100%!

  • Cappz

    What a great game today – an awesome final game of the season and another reminder of what a good team we have – we have got to keep what we’ve got and add to it!

  • yemi

    < ![CDATA[It was a great end to the season, we have been constantly in top four for the past 12yrs, now we have to move higher in that top four to the very top. We need to add (in my own opinion) about 3 players to be ready for the top.
    My heart goes out to the relegated team esp boro and n'castle. Maybe we ca get martins now]]>

  • Pete

    Top performence from the lads. And that 20 goals for RvP this season too :D

  • Fo

    < ![CDATA[Yemi - if we sell Ade and get Martins on the cheap, I think we will be generally better off - I think Martins is better (even though he didn't have the best of games against Villa)...

    Rumours are that Man City are going to come in for Ade with big money... we'll see!

    Pete - 20 goals from VP is awesome considering his injury spells.]]>

  • Fabrez

    Martins does miss chances quite a bit tho…that’s 1 problem I have with him…so similar to Ade in that respect…but has pace to kill! Maybe Arsene and the coaches and tweak something and make him more productive in terms of chance taking… Could b a good catch tho!

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    < ![CDATA[Teams get relegated because they concede more goals than they score, and Obefemi Martins will need to take a great deal of responsibility for Newcastles drop from the top division of football.

    Anyone who think's he will solve Arsenal's problems in front of goal need's their head checking!

    Let's face it he is now a Championship striker. Arsenal need a European heavyweight. Villa or a Torres type, to complement the hold up play of Arshavin, the wit of Van Persie and the speed of Walcott.

    He isn't even very tall - Adebayor at least has some height and scores the occasional header.

    As much as I don't like Adebayor he's a better play than Martins.]]>

  • Fo

    < ![CDATA[Kieran, do you really think that badly of Martins - he has scored some really good goals since he's been at Newcastle, had shown some good finishing, has got pace too

    He was dropped by Keegan and Kinnear rather than not being good.

    Personally I think Martins in our team of creating so many chances would be as good as Ade - I'm not saying it will set us a light - but £25m for Ade and £5 for Martins would be roughly the same in terms of squad but better in terms of £££s.

    I do appreciate that if teams are relegated, it normally means the players aren't too good either!!]]>

  • Fabrez

    Point taken Kieran…i def don’t think he’ll solve all problems. I like him…but as it is he misses too much. But if we’re talking about winning the CL and PL nxt season, we will need a better player if Ade departs instead of teaching Martins how to b on target…a real heavyweight player 4 sure…

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    < ![CDATA[Fo - why was he dropped? Was it his skill, attitude, application or a personality clash? If it was any of those, he isn't the man for us.

    And there would appear to be no other reason for him to be dropped.

    Therefore I'm still going to argue he isn't the right player for Arsenal. I'd much rather the club spend some time scouting out a new Torres than simply kneejerk for the highest scoring relegated striker.]]>

  • devday

    Fo, the reason he was dropped was because of his form on the pitch – I’d go with Kieran on this one – none of the Newcastle squad are good enough for us!

  • Fo

    Kieran, you’re probably right, Martins may not be the right player for us – he wouldn’t be the worst buy for a team like Sp*rs or Villa, but we should really be going for someone like David Villa id Adebayor leaves.

  • ny

    < ![CDATA[r we going to buy a striker.I believe Wenger wont buy a striker even if he sells Ade.See ManU , almost all their goals were from midfield .So I think Wenger will buy a strong Center back .thts all.
    Also Silvestre and Senderos will be sold in addition to Ade.Dont u feel we need to trim our striker size?]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net/ kierandelaney.net/blog

    < ![CDATA[Hang on, haven't all their goals come from Rooney (20), Ronaldo (26) , Berbatov (14) and Tevez (15)? Their recognised midfielders have scored 26 goals.

    Given their defenders scored 20 between them, it's more like 'a few' of their goals were scored from midfield.

    Assuming you say Rooney and Ronaldo are strikers, which, you know, they are.]]>

  • yemi

    < ![CDATA[Kieran,

    1.try giving martins half the supply of balls ade gets and you will see the difference

    2. The fact that martins doesnt have a midfield playing for him and has to go back to fight for the ball 80% of the time does not help him either

    3. Did you see martind play at inter ? He is miles ahead of ade (my opinion)

    4. despite his hieght, martins is very very good in the air

    5. martins work rate is also unbeleivable and his passion for whichever team he plays for is phenominal.]]>

  • Jimmy

    < ![CDATA[First we should think of the CB and the DM positions:
    Hangeland- Big, Leader (captain of Norway), Tall and experienced.
    Lorik Cana- Strong, Leader (captain of Marsielle) experienced and destructive, just whate we need.
    Then we sould think about Adebayor, I think we don't need to buy another striker, Vela, J Simpson and Bendtner are coming up, after all he did score 15 goals this season. If Eduardo is fit and played regularly he can definatley get about 25 goals in a season.]]>

  • yemi

    i agree with u totally jimmy my point was not that we actually needed a striker but with edu yet to be fully fit, ade probably on his way, we could do with a 5million pound premiership sub in maryins

  • http://kierandelaney.net/ kierandelaney.net/blog

    < ![CDATA[Yemi, I'm not saying he's a bad player, I'm just saying he's had a bad season and he's a gamble.

    I also disagree with 5. His work rate has come and gone and his heart hasn't looked anywhere near the relegation battle. There is a reason why three different managers in one season have dropped him to the subs bench.

    I'd also disagree with your inter comparison. Last season Ade was on fire and I don't see Martins even close to the Adebayor of 07/08 even before Newcastle.

    He may well be a great player in an Arsenal shirt, but sadly I think the evidence points to yet another player who'll sulk if he isn't centre of attention (Kinnear is quoted as saying 'Obefemi sulks more than my wife') - is that the kind of instability you want to see Arsene bring to the dressing room? After Henry and Adebayor?]]>

  • Berth

    Kieran what happened between Ade and Henry?

  • Fo

    You’ve persuaded me against Martins now Kieran, I think your points pretty much hit the nail on the head!

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    < ![CDATA[Berth, I just meant in both players final seasons (assuming Ade leaves of course) they both sat around moodily sulking with their hands on their hips.

    Henry has never headbutted his own player like Ade, granted, but he did have a go at quite a few especially in his last season.]]>