"Sparsenal" vs. Stoke


Hubris.  That’s all it can be labeled.

How many of us saw the “Sparsenal” team Arsene Wenger fielded Sunday versus Stoke, and said to ourselves, “Aw come ON.”  I mean, most of us tune in to Arsenal games to watch the beautiful game be beautiful, and looking at the line-up Wenger started, it was instantly obvious that the Gunners were in for a tough match.  The Professor had- for some reason unbeknownst to… well… everyone- decided to level the playing field in one fell swoop, and gamble his organization’s FA Cup hopes on a combination of green youth, and two center halves on the downside of their careers.  You wouldn’t be far from the truth if you described the scene as Fabregas and Denilson surrounded by strangers.  Yes, Wenger has peppered his XI’s before with kids he stubbornly holds faith in after they wobble continuously; and it can be said that for this he is rewarded by young, talented teams that grow together into disciples of his vision.  But after a minute into the game, when Fabianski failed to grab a Delap throw and was beaten by a Fuller header you couldn’t help but ask why.  Why, in this season where Arsenal are poised to take as many trophies as are available, did Wenger field such a ridiculous squad?  There are times when his gambles are appropriate to build the confidence of young players.  But in a match where the consequences leave a ghost in the trophy case?!  Fans and critics have to be asking, “Why this match?”- a single elimination showdown at a Britannia Stadium known for gritty performances from its denizens?  And why to such an outlandish extreme?  No Gallas, no Vermaelen, no Almunia, no Clichy, Rosicky, Sagna, Diaby, Arshavin, or Eduardo.

Cesc can only do so much.

And so, after a Denilson equalizer off a free kick, it remained an ugly 1-1 match until the final quarter of the game when Arshavin, Eduardo, and Ramsey were subbed in like the cavalry.

And little good it did, as the defense continued to fall apart and Wenger was rewarded with a 3-1 loss and the FA Cup exit sign.

…and all we’re left wondering is WHY? Wenger’s players have to be furious with him.  Gooners have to furious with him.  What positives can possibly be taken from a pounding like this in a season so ripe for trophies?  Well, maybe some humble pie was just the dish Arsene needed to stay focused through the stretch.  I would guess he won’t be pulling another stunt like that for the remainder of the season.  You can’t let silverware slide through your fingertips as wantonly as he did Sunday and keep your job in the EPL for long.  I don’t care who you are.

25 thoughts on “"Sparsenal" vs. Stoke”

  1. yeah, i dunno. if i’m coaching a team that hasn’t had silverware in 5 years, i’m dubbing this game important enough to start a strong side and play my “half side” at villa (and that “half side” wouldn’t be near as lacking as sunday’s side was). if the idea is to save the players for the tough stretch, why play fabregas? not seeing the logic.

  2. Are you serious?

    Arsenal have Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool in their next 4 Premier League games.

    If either of the big 4 had the opportunity to win the Premier League and the FA Cup became an obstacle they would field their grandmothers to play the FA cup matches to hold the PL title.

    The real test will be the next couple of weeks with matches against top teams that Arsenal really need to win. This FA Cup gaffe is irrelevant nobody cares about the FA Cup anymore.

  3. agree with most on here. he’s not trying to say he doesn’t think the FA cup isn’t important, just saying he’s focused on the PL and CL. i can’t say that i wouldn’t have fielded the same kind of team.

  4. Are you kiddin’ me? Did you even bother to look at Arsenal’s injury list or upcoming fixtures before you wrote this crap? He rested the same amount of starters he normally does. This time, however, because we’re so thin with injuries and ACN absences, the primary backups were people like Coquelin, Emmanuel-Thomas, and Silvestre. For your information, he’s been pulling “stunts like this” for his entire career. Idiots like you only notice when he loses.

    1. Which is why he hasn’t won silverware in a long time. I think the point of the article is that a more balance squad may have been received better by some humans (and I realize that Goober fans rarely act like humans). At some point Wenger’s experiment either has to succeed or fail on the pitch. So far, he’s failed. If he wins the League this year, he’ll have succeeded. But, as for the FA Cup, whether you value it our not, he failed again this year (granted, along with many other teams). Goober fans need to stop blindly attacking anyone who says anything remotely negative about their skipper or club.

      1. Did you read the article? He clearly attacks Arsene Wenger without knowing anything about the state of team. Looks like this author just looked at the score sheets and saw unfamilar names and has decided to lambast Wenger on that along.

        Poor blogging to say the least.

        1. astute reading. i must’ve accidentally included bendtner, song, eboue, nasri, gibbs and- what’s his name? oh yeah, van persie- in the list of players he left off the field.

          look, there are people who don’t believe the fa cup is worthy of fielding a better squad when there is a tough string of games coming up in the league. I’m not one of them.

          1. Uhuh. Don’t forget of course that if you knew the state of the team as I refered to, you would actually know that both Gallas and Vermaelen have both been taking knocks in that last number of games, having to go off for treatment and limping back on the field. You would know that Wenger is already (still) concerned that Gallas won’t be able to make 90mins vs Aston Villa on Wednesday. You would also know that Sagna has been carrying a shoulder injury to the point he is unable to take a little throw-in at all. Arshavin has a well-known foot injury to the point he misses training and then fight on for games. Diaby has a hamstring injurt and was ruled out for the Aston Villa game during the Bolton press conference, and only ‘possible’ to make the ManU game.
            Eduardo and Rosicky are both players who pick up injuries at the slightliest provocation and, in the case of Eduardo, has been involved heavily in the recent run of games. So if you were a supporter of Arsenal you could understand the merits of resting those two.
            Don’t forget that almost every Arsenal fan alive has been calling for Almunia to be dropped for Fabianski the past number of weeks. Or maybe you didn’t forget, you just had no knowledge. A shame Fabianski was dreadful vs Stoke.

            By fielding Cesc Fabregas and Denilson, Wenger showed he still wanted to win the game. By throwing on Ramsey Arshavin and Eduardo on in the 68th minute, Wenger showed he was going for it.

            Either way, the starting XI had held Stoke to 1-1. When Wenger put on his ‘big’ Guns they lost 2-0. Your point is moot.

  5. Factually incorrect and lacking insight. That was a good enough Arsenal team to win, they were beaten by a better side. on SUNDAY.

  6. Don’t forget some of the players he rested (Vermaelen included) have not had a game’s rest since the Carling Cup and, with the murderer’s row coming up, come players needed a day off.

  7. As others have rightly pointed out, Arsenal have a brutal stretch of games coming up in the league – a stretch of games that will likely make or break their title push.

    We are also ravaged by injury. I simply do not see what choice Arsene had. Gallas and Vermaelen haven’t gotten much rest at all this season, nor has Sagna. We needed to give them a game off given that our backup centerbacks right now are Sylvestre and Campbell – and they are not going to win anyone a title! We’re short at right back (Eboue injured and then off), we’re short at left back (Clichy only just coming back against Bolton), we’re short at defensive mid (Song is at ACN), we’re short at striker (Bendtner and RvP out). Each of the places we are short at, the starting player has been playing without rest. They needed a rest soon – and Arsene’s choice was either this game against Stoke, or one of the league games in that brutal run. I think he made the right choice.

    I’m also a bit surprised by the tone of this piece. It’s been fairly obvious all week that Arsene would pick this team. Every Arsenal blog I’ve read has anticipated it, and most have supported it. So while it is perfectly fair to disagree with Arsene, I’m rather surprised at the incredulous (or faux-incredulous) tone.

  8. Aww the poor little girls have a tough stretch do they? Have fun with zero trophies again while pretending how great you are Aresnal. Why not just forfeit and save us all from your whining excuses.

  9. My mate in London said that the Arsenal fans were calling in saying that we only have one way to play. Get a throw in and Delap hurls it in. I’m really worried that they have a point and what’s more we may be cheating!!

    Did you see his throw in for the second goal? Very clever, he disguised himself as a big black man and ran from the half way line down the wing to put in a perfect cross. To the casual observer it looked most unlike a throw in, or even Rory Delap.

    As for the third goal he was some part of a flowing passing move, as Stoke appeared to walk the ball into the Arsenal net. He’d clearly swapped shirts and hair styles, but here’s the thing, I’m a big Stoke fan and I couldn’t tell whether he was pretending to be Tuncay, Etherington, Whelan or Whitehead. Even better he didn’t use the towel so you couldn’t even tell when the ball left his hands. No wonder the Arsenal fans were confused.

  10. Yeah I’m not sure why this garbage was even published. Arsenal have to prioritize winning the league over the F.A. Cup in this instance. With this great of an opportunity, it would be foolish and potentially harmful to our title chances not to give some of our key players a rest. Yes, we all want to win trophies this year, but no one in their right mind would be willing to sacrifice the Premiership & CL for the FA Cup.

  11. What Stoke does on those throw-ins is cheating. You think Arsenal (or any team for that matter) would be allowed to bring out a towel to wipe the ball off before every free kick? Of course not. It’s also time wasting, as Delap takes about 20-30 seconds on every throw.

    Why can a goalkeeper get a yellow card for taking his sweet time before a goal kick, but Delap and Stoke can not only take their time, but make sure the ball is completely dry before his throw? It’s a joke.

    1. I think you must be confused. When Delap is taking his time on a throw in, it is for offensive reasons-Stoke is not trying to waste time but to score. A goalie taking his time on a goal kick is NEVER trying to score.

      Also, I have seen other players on other teams (“for that matter” Halford on Wolves, I think someone on Wigan too?) wipe down the ball before a throw-in too. So it isn’t just Stoke. And it is always possible to do what Liam Ridgewell did at Stoke earlier when Birmingham City was up to force the ref to make it fair.

      1. Sorry, but I’m not confused at all. His throws are obviously one of their best sources for goals, but another benefit to Delap’s entire routine (especially when the scoreline favors them) is also clearly time wasting.

        It’s not just the drying the ball off with the towel. It’s also the way he slowly saunters over to the collect the ball (often on the other side of the pitch), and then the directing of traffic that he performs before making the throw. Take all that into account, and you’re looking at around 45 seconds from the time the ball goes out until it’s back in play.

        I don’t watch many Stoke games (the style of play isn’t easy on the eyes), but somehow I doubt he takes that long when they’re behind.

        There was even one throw in Sunday’s game where he went through the entire 45 second routine, and then threw it short. A normal throw-in takes about 5 seconds, tops. Stoke’s take anywhere from 6 to 9 times that long.

        It’s time wasting, plain and simple. And I don’t care if other teams do it. Nobody should be allowed to do it, but the fact is that Stoke do it more blatantly than any other club in the Premiership.

        It shouldn’t be up to the opposing team to make the ref enforce rules that are clearly written about deliberately delaying the restart of the game. And in Arsenal’s case, if they did complain to the ref about it, we’d never hear the end of Wenger and Arsenal’s whining from the English press and people like the author of this article.

  12. i guess the real issue is that arsenal’s 3rd and 4th choice CB’s are so utter trash. wenger wanted to rest his first choices CBs and realized he has no depth in defense.

    if gallas or vermaelen get injured arsenal will struggle, this is why he wont risk them against a rough side in a competition that he cares very little for.

    hell most of his positions he played scrap because he needed to rest players, only central midfield he didnt have too much of a choice considering he had very few central midfielders currently available

  13. Indy Gooner, that’s what extra time is for! We regularly have 5 minutes per half awarded at our home matches. Against Chelsea at home this season there were 14 minutes issued against us over both halves, and Chelsea scored both their goals against us in both periods of extra time so it does work against us. However I suspect that the ref would have played until Chelsea scored the winner anyhow.

    I’d rather have us wasting a bit of time than players cheating, diving, pussying about and surrounding referees. It was Stoke that should have been awarded the penalty on Sunday when Fuller stayed on his feet rather than fling himself Eduardo-esqe to the ground. And he got penalised for trying to stay upright! If that’s the kind of decision we get from referees we’ll dry out our balls as long as we like.

    I hear there’s talk locally of incorporating power points into the advertising hoardings and having local hairdressers sponsoring each match by have their staff helping Rory out with their blow dryer.

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