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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Stoke City 0-0 Arsenal: Gunners fire blank but still return to top of the Premier League by overtaking Manchester City and Leicester


There was snow on the ground and hostility in the air. After all that has gone before, you can see why this fixture remains the ultimate test of mettle for Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal team.
They emerged from it on this occasion with a well-earned point and a place back on top of the Barclays Premier League, albeit level on points once more with Leicester City.
It was frenetic stuff at a freezing Britannia Stadium. Olivier Giroud will feel that he could – probably should – have beaten Jack Butland on more than one occasion. Petr Cech, however, did his bit to keep out Stoke at the other end. This was not a bad draw at all for Wenger, four days after leaving Anfield deflated by a late Liverpool equaliser. 
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud looks dejected after missing a chance during his side's Premier League clash against Stoke City
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud looks dejected after missing a chance during his side's Premier League clash against Stoke City
Stoke City playmaker Bojan (left) shoots at goal as Arsenal captain Per Metesacker (right) attempts to block his shot 
Stoke City playmaker Bojan (left) shoots at goal as Arsenal captain Per Metesacker (right) attempts to block his shot 
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (centre left) attempts to break the deadlock but fails to find a way past goalkeeper Jack Butland and his defence
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (centre left) attempts to break the deadlock but fails to find a way past goalkeeper Jack Butland and his defence
Marko Arnautovic runs with the ball as Arsenal duo Joel Campbell and Hector Bellerin give chase in an attempt to win back possession
Marko Arnautovic runs with the ball as Arsenal duo Joel Campbell and Hector Bellerin give chase in an attempt to win back possession

MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE FROM THE BRITANNIA STADIUM

STOKE CITY (4-2-3-1): Butland 7.5; Johnson 6, Shawcross 8, Wollscheid 5.5, Pieters 7; Whelan 6.5, Afellay 7 (Van Ginkel 88); Walters 6.5, Bojan 6 (Diouf 64mins, 6.5), Arnautovic 7 (Adam 87) Joselu 7
Subs not used: Muniesa, Odemwingie, Crouch, Haugaard
ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Cech 8.5; Bellerin 6, Mertesacker 7, Koscielny 6.5, Monreal 6; Ramsey 6, Flamini 6; Walcott 5.5 (Iwobi 72, 6.5), Oxlade-Chamberlain 7 (Chambers 90), Campbell 5; Giroud 7
Subs not used: Gibbs, Gabriel, Arteta, Ospina, Elneny
Attendance: 27,683 
Referee: Craig Pawson 
Ratings by Jack Gaughan 

Glenn Whelan's heat map shows his touches in Stoke's midfield — click HERE for more of our brilliant Match Zone
Glenn Whelan's heat map shows his touches in Stoke's midfield — click HERE for more of our brilliant Match Zone
The Gunners had won just once here in seven previous attempts since Stoke were promoted to the Premier League in 2008, and that was the rather hollow 3-1 victory in February 2010 when Aaron Ramsey suffered an horrific double leg break in a challenge with Ryan Shawcross.
The bad blood has festered since with Wenger admitting he gets more abuse at the Britannia Stadium than anywhere else in the country. It echoed to the chant of ‘Stand up if you hate Arsenal’ soon after kick-off, followed by a less than complimentary ditty about Wenger himself. The noise is always a few decibels louder when the Frenchman brings his team to the Potteries.
Strangely over the years, Ramsey has also become a target for the Stoke fans. They cheered when he pulled up after getting a whack in the back of the leg from Glen Johnson, and at one stage broke into a brief chorus of ‘Aaron Ramsey, he walks with a limp’. Given that the Wales midfielder was sidelined for nine months with the injury, you would have thought he would be one Arsenal player who might get a bit of sympathy in these parts.
Such was the level of vitriol towards the visitors, though, and the sight of snow piled by the side of the pitch in freezing temperatures only added to the frosty reception awaiting them as they arrived minus key playmaker Mesut Ozil, left back in London with a foot injury.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3403820/Stoke-City-0-0-Arsenal-Gunners-fire-blank-return-Premier-League-overtaking-Manchester-City-Leicester.html#ixzz3xWoSZp00