Arsenal 1-0 Stoke: When winning is losing

When Jermaine Pennant lined up his last-minute free-kick last night I was extremely worried. The result seemed to hinge on the result of this moment, our good defending and another league sheet counting for nothing if the ex-Arsenal ex-con slipped his shot into the back of the net.

At that moment our early domination seemed to have belonged to a different game. From minute eight to eight-eight we had scrapped in a very Stoke-like manner, even scoring a goal Tony Pulis would be proud of through Sebastien Squillaci, a player that has been unfairly-maligned in recent months.

But no sooner had Pennant stepped forward, made contact with the ball and flashed his shot wide of the post did my worry take on a different form. I pondered the fates of Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, the former gingerly removing himself from play on the quarter-hour mark with a supposed hamstring tweak, the latter stretched off in the second-half with after turning his ankle.

In that I moment I realised that two of our most iconic players were likely not to feature in the Carling Cup final. In that moment winning did not feel like winning at all.

For Walcott to miss the opportunity to contribute to our first silverware in five years is one thing — in truth this season has been his first significant contribution to the club and he will surely get other opportunities — but for Cesc to miss out is another thing entirely. Nobody has given more to Arsenal on the pitch over those trophy-free years than our captain and the thought of him missing the game is dreadful.

It’s only the Carling Cup, yes, but it’s only the Carling Cup in the same way that we are only halfway to beating Barcelona in the Champions League. Sunday feels like a hugely symbolic moment for this group of players and the thought of the team being lead out by anyone other than Cesc is a strange one.

There is still a chance that Cesc could be fit for our trip to Wembley but the reactions from the manager and the player suggest he won’t. As important as a trophy is we have bigger fish to fry and the little Spaniard may again be forced to show his class and say ‘no’ to his team when his heart cries ‘yes’.

Get well soon, Cesc. You too, Theo.

Share your love for Arsenal by leaving a comment.



  1. The guys showed a real workman like performance late night, and i dear say they have the look of champions, to be honest MAU are top but they have not played well at all this season, people fear them because of reputation.
    I hope we remain grounded and stay focused.
    Injuries as usual, no surprise at all just hope their both fit to play Barc and in the league games.

  2. Hey Drew, Thanks for getting an early post-game/ pre-game entry up and running. I’m glad I’m not alone stressing the League cup. Not only do we need to win silver
    but Birmingham is my least favorite side in the land. Yep, it’s the Eduardo thing. Though my folks tried their best to raise me decent I won’t forget and I won’t forgive.
    With that in mind we have to beat the blues no matter who plays for them or us.
    There are NO, repeat no excuses. The squad, though dinged-up for sure is as healthy and whole as we’ve had in many seasons. We have quality players in nearly all areas of the pitch(back 4 and Goal the exceptions).And you have to admit our bench is better than their starters.Who besides Alex( the intriguer)Hleb could even get into our side? And he’s not healthy a that.
    No Sir, we have the beating of these curs and must administer it in rude and ruthless fashion. A win is a basic must but is what I want is to completely humiliate these miscreants. It’s only what they deserve.I doubt I’m alone in this respect.

  3. The Cesc injury is very worrisome but I feel like it’s time for Arshavin to regain his form and take his starting position back. He has the skill. The Barca goal helped his confidence it’s time to see the mighty mite that scored four against Liverpool again.

  4. Excellent as always, AW:
    “In that I moment I realised that two of our most iconic players were likely not to feature in the Carling Cup final. In that moment winning did not feel like winning at all.”

    It was an eponymous 1 nit to the Arsenal result and a perfectly dreadful affair that I erased from my PVR as soon as I watched it (post-match). Chelsea simply MUST do their job next week to make the Stoke match worth it.

    So Sunday becomes something quite different doesn’t it? It’s hugely symbolic as you’ve said. An ironic afternoon of mixed emotions for Gooners not to see El Capitan & Theo on the pitch, but to possibly welcome back Aaron Ramsey? So much much to think about, so much to look forward to. It’s not “just” the Carling Cup and never has been for us. It’s much more. It’s vindication. It’s proof that our faith in Wenger and his young charges has been well-placed despite the long gestation period. It’s finally and suddenly seeing Ramsey back in our kit on the biggest stage in the UK at Wembley.

    Don’t you just love being a Gooner?

    Oh, and by the way, WTF???:
    Barca hit out at “immoral” Arsenal over Toral pursuit
    Read more:


  5. Drew thank expressed my feeling in a very perfect way in your sensational article.
    I have one more thing to say “for me the best player in that game was our goal keeper and he showed us to what extent strong he is and to what extent almunia had been killing our hope of getting trophies and as far as almunia is in that team he will keep on forcing us to
    suffer due to his costly errors”.
    A season full of trophies is going on!be ready to celebrate!

  6. This truly was a 1 nil to the Arsenal win worthy of the George Graham years. I am thinking that El Capitan will make an appearance Sunday at Wembley, maybe coming on at the hour mark, or srarting and going as long as he can. We should win on class and effort. Brum thugs just another clogging side. Worried about the 6’5″ Serbian striker, but no long thrower like Delap. Refereeing will also have to be a lot more fair than yesterdays
    Still not impressed by the beer cup, but silverware is silverware, and it will at least qualify if only on a technicality. Why can’t we win all 4?
    O 2 B a Gooner!

  7. wow leftcoast gooner being a little harsh on our defense!! c’mon man how many games have we won since the new year. How many of them have been clean sheets? How many goals did barcacuntalona score on our shit defense? The blindness amazes me sometimes. And you do not think Sczezsny is a class keeper?? i mean i love all gooners but seriously sometimes they seem a bit delusional. We bought Koscielny for 8 million and he shuts Messi down for a good 85 minutes. still not good enough for you mr. leftcoast? our boys have conceded 27 in total, man u at 25, city at 24 and chavs at 22. oh yeah we’ve also scored 57 goals. our 30 pt goal difference is just 2 behind Man U. chavs at 24 and city at 19 (spuds at +7 lol!!) c’mon show some faith my man.

  8. Sorry bill,
    I meant our reserves not our starters. And yeah Seb had a good game and a good goal but he and almunia are shakey for me. Who else can we put at the back? Eboue has skill and guile going forward but defending isn’t his strong point and Gibbs is a nice work in progress but he’s good for misplay a game. That’s exactly the kind of thing that pegged us back against Orient and we just can’t have it with our first cup in years on the line.

  9. I really hate being an Arsenal fan some days. Should be looking forward to the cup final and seeing our boys lift the cup but part of me is dreading it. What if we lose – all the usual garbage about mental weakness this, tippy tappy that will be churned out by all the xenophobic, myopic, don’t like it up ’em brigade in the UK and I couldn’t bear it. And I live in Oz! Trouble is it’s a no win for us because it is “only” the little cup, so even if we win we won’t get much credit, and if we lose…Wel the consequences for the rest of the season don’t bear thinking about.

    OK, enough negativity, hope we flog those Brummies and do it with style and show them how proper football is played.

  10. @leftcoastgooner: Haha… You copied and pasted the name from bill but unfortunately bill is wrong 🙂 It’s Szczesny 🙂

  11. While the injuries is definitely bad news for the sunday game, I think at least Fabregas from the two will be fit for the Barca game, which is really, really important. As for the final, I’m trying to look a bit at the good side: we’ll have Nasri and Wilshere available, we have Arshavin who’s getting back to shape, we’ll most likely have Van Persie and Koscielny back and also Sagna, whom I missed in the Barca tie. Overall, things are shaping up quite well and while Birmingham will give everything on the pitch we will also be close to our best starting XI.

  12. Get well lads. Frankly i don’t want our captain to play the final and risk our chances for the season.A decent midfield with Rosicky , Nasri and Wilshere would prove strong with either Bendtner or Diaby playing in the right wing. I personally don’t like to see any midfield combination other than this and replacing anyone with Rosicky or Nasri would be suicide .
    Since Diaby/Denilson can’t handle pressure siutations and we have seen this time after time. Instead of playing them in midfield , manager can play them on the right wing or left wing whichever he prefers allowing Bendtner to play central. Even if the manager wants to play Chamakh play him on the right wing and allow Bendtner to play central.
    All the best for our guys to lift the trophy

  13. what a legend and a great man cesc fabregas tell the team to win the carling cup for arsenal’s great fans is a testomony to the great captain that cesc is.all i can say as a passionate obssesed gooner is,i hope we win for everyone assosiated with this great club of our & that includes our great player & captain cesc fabregas.the BEST player in the prem lge.

  14. Well it looked for half a second that Wigan Athletic might be of some assistance.
    But they quickly rolled over and went down fantail first. To be expected I suppose.

  15. I just read a report in the mirror that says both Carles Puyol and Xavi are “major” doubts for the game against us with injury problems. Victor Valdes is already out. Of course, we are the Arsenal and we should not be hoping for our opponents’ injuries, but I just have a feeling that this was the stroke of luck we deserved.

    Come On You Gunners !!

  16. With Victor Valdes out (who although was at fault for Van Persie’s goal, was very good at the Emirates), that is already great news for Arsenal. Pique is of course suspended and I heard that Puyol is out which means they are without their first choice centre backs and goalkeeper, which is fantastic news for us. With the news i just read about Xavi, things are looking good for the gooner!

    What I had originally planned to post was jus a good luck message for the boys at Wembley hoping to win our first trophy since 2005. C’mon lads, lets beat the blues and lift the Carling Cup.

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