Bruised, bothered, bewildered - a Stoke City nightmare for Gunners
STOKE 2-1 ARSENAL Arsene Wenger was forced to admit his side were second best as Arsenal s title bid suffered a major setback at the Britannia Stadium. The Gunners porous defence failed to deal with Rory Delap s long throw-ins from the start with the fo
STOKE 2-1 ARSENAL
Arsene Wenger was forced to admit his side were second best as Arsenal's title bid suffered a major setback at the Britannia Stadium.
The Gunners' porous defence failed to deal with Rory Delap's long throw-ins from the start with the former Ireland international's trademark tactic leading to both home goals.
But of equal concern to Wenger was seeing Emmanuel Adebayor and Theo Walcott both stretchered off - while Robin van Persie was sent off for stupidly barging into City 'keeper Thomas Sorensen.
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The Netherlands striker now faces an automatic three match ban for violent conduct.
Stoke's outstanding attacker Ricardo Fuller gave Stoke a first-half lead when he stole ahead of Kolo Toure to head home Delap's mammoth throw-in from four yards.
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Quite why Manuel Almunia remained rooted to his line remains a mystery.
Seyi Olofinjana doubled the hosts' lead on 73 minutes when he bundled over another Delap torpedo before frustrated van Persie's rush of blood led to a straight red three minutes later.
Gale Clichy's deflected effort in injury time gave Arsenal hope, but they deserved nothing more than a consolation. Stoke were worthy winners.
"They (Stoke) fought for every ball and they waited for their set-pieces. In the end Stoke won because we didn't create enough chances to score," lamented the Arsenal manager."
Stoke's style of play is the very antithesis of Wenger's; he was grudging in defeat - and clearly not a fan of Delap's route one weapon... "We had a plan to deal with the throw-ins; we had worked on it," added Wenger.
" I am not sure the first one was touched by anybody. They fly into the box and it is difficult with 20 people in there. That sort of thing is not our greatest strength.
"People who love the traditional English game must be happy because they got what they like today.
"It was a traditional game with a lot of fight and commitment. At the end of the day Stoke deserved to win the game."
It was Arsenal's fourth successive league loss at Stoke - and their first for 23 years.