Arsenal 1-3 Stoke: Knocked out by a great goal

A great second goal from Ricardo Fuller, not an inexperienced team, saw us knocked out of the FA Cup.

After starting with a mix of youth and experience and battling back to level the game at 1-1, Arsene Wenger made the changes that I expected to help us push on and win the game. Andrey Arshavin, Eduardo and Aaron Ramsey joined Cesc Fabregas, Denilson and Carlos Vela on the pitch to create a front six good enough to get the goal we needed.

It wasn’t to be however, as Mamady Sidibe raced down the flank to cross for Fuller to head home.

It would be easy to say that we lost this game because we started with an inexperienced team containing the likes of Francois Coquelin, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Craig Eastmond in key positions but the truth is that Stoke produced their moment of real quality when we had our best team on the park. As such, we shouldn’t make excuses.

There isn’t a defender in the league who could have prevented Fuller from getting of Sidibe’s inch-perfect cross, nor a goalkeeper of stopping his header. It was a tremendously precise goal which effectively decided the tie and sometimes you just have to accept that these things happen in football games. You just can’t win them all.

The game panned out in a fairly typical manner with Stoke causing the most trouble with the aerial threat provided by both Rory Delap’s throw-ins and some excellent crossing from the wide areas. Meanwhile we struggled to find our desired passing rhythm as Theo Walcott and Vela struggled to assert themselves, Coquelin seemed overawed by the occasion and Thomas’ over-enthusiasm saw him wander too far from his central striker duties.

That Stoke scored from their first attack, their first Delap throw-in, didn’t help. Lukasz Fabianski’s ill-conceived attempt to catch the ball on his chest rather than punching it clear with his arms extended allowed Fuller to nip in and the Jamaican striker’s header bundled in off the crossbar. It wasn’t the start we’d hoped for.

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Our boys had recently come from behind to beat Liverpool, West Ham and Bolton and also struck late to salvage a draw with Everton, so there was no real reason for panic. We gradually took control of the game despite Stoke’s ever-present set-piece threat and just like at Bolton, pulled back a crucial goal just before half-time when Fabregas teed up Denilson to scuff home a shot from the edge of the area.

The goal seemed to give our team confidence and we emerged from the break in a far more relaxed manner, spreading the passes and generally keeping possession well. However, we had nothing to show in the final third for our efforts except for a Fabregas shot comfortably tipped over by Thomas Sorensen.

When the triple-substitution was made I was confident that we would go on to win the game. But it simply didn’t pan out that way as Fuller scored again before Dean Whitehead added a killer third with five minutes to play.

I was extremely disappointed to go out of the Cup but I see no real reason to be too critical of the team or the manager for the result. Wenger put out a team with enough quality to win the game while resting enough players to keep things fresh for the epic run of games coming up.

The effort and desire was there, the quality was undoubtedly lacking in patches, yet after getting ourselves in a good position to win the game we were undone by a quality goal. That’s all there is to it, really.

In terms of individual performances I feel that Sol Campbell’s commanding return merited a mention while Armand Traore’s attacking from deep on the left provided our best outlet over the 90 minutes. Mikael Silvestre sacrificed his body for the cause while Thomas’ overall effort was promising despite a lack of positional discipline.

Meanwhile Denilson, Vela and Walcott all disappointed while Fabianski endured a mixed evening between the sticks. At fault for the first goal, he responded well to generally dominate his area before making a couple of handling errors late on in the game.

I feel his performance – under tough conditions – was better than many people will give him credit for, yet he will need to iron out the kinks in his game before he is called up to replace Manuel Almunia. Considering the FA Cup is his best chance for minutes Fabianski will be as disappointed as anyone that we’ve been knocked out.

So another chance for a trophy in 2009/10 is gone but with an exciting quartet of games against Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool coming up that may soon be forgotten.

Have your say on Arsenal’s FA Cup loss to Stoke by leaving a comment.



  1. Fabianski is not good enough.

    Denilson is a smiling clown who doesn´t care..

    Sol was good.

    Cesc tried.

  2. With the side we fielded, on the road where Stoke is good, I am not susprised we lost. They are a big, physical team that is a tough match-up for the kids we played. And Fuller and Ethrington were handfull all day. Not all that upset about an FA exit though. Except Walcott looked awful

  3. so dissapointed ofcourse..but can’t blame the team selesction. understand that wednesday game’s much more important. but..will we win the league by sacrificing the FA cup? hope so and must stay positive..In wenger we trust

  4. Yes. A win is a win and a lost is a loss no matter if you play well or not. But it is not the end of the season. Maybe one less trophy this season (knock on wood), we are still in the runnin for three more. Get a grip and focus on the next four match then we will know whether this season is a continuance of previous 4 seasons.

    Go you Gunners.

  5. To The Duke of Arsenal. I can tell you right now mate. This season will end just like the previuos 4. AW is just too arrogant for the good of the club. The FA cup is a great tradition in this country and he shows no respect for the game or the fans.

  6. @ Casey – What was he supposed to do with the team based on his options? How was he to make it any better with Villa, United, Chelsea and Liverpool coming up.

    Cesc and Denilson, our two first-choice midfielders played while when the score was 1-1 he subbed on three of our best players. We had a team on the pitch capable of winning the game when it was level and Stoke scored another goal.

    Wenger did not disrespect the FA Cup one bit.

  7. Fabianski should be sold, and enough of gambling with small small boys mr wenger.Ryan Babel is out there for you grab him dont let others take him his a good material.We belive in you WENGER…..

  8. he should have use them at a good time not late hour.take it or leave it WENGER gambled with that game with his small small boys i hope he realize his mistakes.

  9. I was disappointed that Denilson did not show much effort to get back and catch Sidibe. Apart from the goal he had a stinker i think, including trying to chest the ball down in the penalty area which resulted in a penalty claim from the Silvestre challenge.

    Walcott and Vela did even worse. I think we really should get a striker in this window.(it’s not a knee jerk reaction to the loss)

    The youngsters actually carried their weight. We didn’t in all honesty deserve to win the game. As for talk of disrespecting the cup, get your head out of the Mcleods and think again. (sorry-that one was too good to resist) It was a good enough team out there who just didn’t play well enough on the day.
    Onwards and upwards in the league i say.

  10. I went to the game yesterday. Dissapointing yes, but take nothing away from Stoke. They played very well and only highlighted our one true weakness – our weakness. We’re not big enough and strong enough in key positions to win the battle. Sol adds to the much needed “beef” we require, and it was nice to see Jay E Thomas get a game whislt also adding to the beef dept.

    Long story short, dissapointed to go out the cup yes. But thats what the FA Cup is all about. League places do not come into it in that comp. Attentions now on the PL and CL. Heres to hoping we bounce right back

  11. @ Duke – what other 3 comps are we in? You say we got 3 more to go for……..CL, PL and……….womens FA Cup? Ha ha ha…….

  12. in wenger we trust, i dont think so. you sacrifice the FA wen you dont even know if you are going to win the league, isnt that some narrowed thinking.
    i suppose that is why some teams like Chelsea go on and win trophys coz the manager n players vlue them. wat is the point of playing then in the FA if you dnt even value it. so now we have a much higher chance of winning the premier league eh!?, just becvause we dnt have any more engagements with the FA; i dont think so. i evn think this week will be the decider with Aston.

  13. I was really disappointed, I hope the next match Sol n Fabianski play for the first team is goin to be pre- season, or the Community shield if we make it that far.. Denilson cud even afford to let Sibide out run him n am not even sure where Traore was then!!!!!
    Hope we make 3 out of the next 4 games..

  14. OUR SEASON (especially the next 4 games) will come down to THREE things! Cameroon losing to Egypt tomorrow so Alex Song is back in time for United, Diaby getting fit before the United game and lastly and equally important… Nicklas Bendtner coming back in good shape and ready to fire (not only with goals but with his physical contribution). The two games we were really matched (Chelsea and Everton at home) we simply did not have a physical presence up front which usually pushes the opponents defenders back. John Terry was playing in OUR half when Chelsea scored their first goal. That tells you all you need to know about our non-existent front 3. I gave up on Walcott a long time ago and as much as I want him to prove me wrong… the guy is crap and nothing more. He is not a natural footballer.. he is an athlete playing football for money. We need to keep our players fit. Although we can probably escape against Villa without a few key players we won’t do it against United and Chelsea. We need the following line-up: Munia; Sagna-Gallas-Verm-Clichy; Diaby-Song-Cesc; Rosicky-Bendtner-Arshavin. Bench: Denilson, Ramsey, Cott, Vela, Nasri, Eduardo …

  15. @ Dan – Again, I’d like to know how Wenger sacrificed this game. Look at the line-up, look at the way the game was lost. I will repeat again and again that we had a strong team out on the park when Stoke scored their killer second goal.

  16. @Weber & @Dan – Dan get a life and learn to speak english. Like Weber says, we had a full side out for a majority of the 2nd half. Stoke deserved their win and good luck to them. Wenger started with some youth players due the fact (a) our next four games are the most important there has been all season. (b) Wenger genuinely belived that side was good enough to turn Stoke over. On another day, it would of been. Fact is its FA Cup, things happen. Leeds v Man U anyone? Its dissapointing going out the cup, but we need to look onwards and upwards –

  17. As expected from set-piece,early goal was allowed.It was very sad to see childish players in our team.Also Walcot,D’nelson& Vallea showed they are still under par.This worst team deserved as a big loser.Hope not to watch the bamboo-gunners in the future matches again.

  18. Gone is gone .We must now focus more on PL & CL.
    Iam sure our guys will come back strong and hopefully we will win PL&CL.
    Campbell shows why he was resigned ,he show great quality.
    Now we must focus on next game.

  19. f**k it – so we r out the squat didly cup – mancs lost to a team 2 divisions below them – pool lost to reading – dont think there is no shame in losing to a well spirited stoke side who wanted that bit more than us –

    think we have our eyes on the 2 bigger prizes

  20. The criticism leveled at Arsene Wenger on this forum is quite staggering. Arsenal have ten injuries and four massive games in the next 3 weeks, therefore a weakened line-up against Stoke was completely justifiable. It wasn’t about disrespecting the FA Cup but utilising our young, inexperienced squad. Stoke were just better on the day, end of, and they deserve to go through, but it’s strange that Wenger seems to get so much criticism on this forum ( and i’m not talking about the minority forum morons knotter, ashodis, skyespurs etc.) Quite why he is so unpopular with some is beyond me. The Premier League is lucky to have him as a manager plying his trade here and, perhaps bar United, any fan in the world would want him as their manager. To all those mocking Sol’s performance…what game were you watching?! He was by far one of our best players yesterday. The second goal was just a perfect cross that no defender in the world could have got to….for all you United and Spurs fans spouting their proverbial garbage after a defeat, that’s rich coming from your performances in the FA Cup this season. Can’t even beat a league one side at home. Tots, you’re going out in that replay, and expect a tirade of grief when you do little spuds…

  21. @ arry – Looks like that comment was specifically aimed at another forum, but you make some decent points.

    We tend to be a lot more respectful and understanding of Wenger on this blog.

  22. I’d put out the same team against Villa. More than capable of getting a result, away, against a strong Premier League side. And if we lose? What the hell. We’ve got bigger fish to fry…

  23. Ordinarily I would have been disappointed at going out of the cup to a team such as the calibre as Stoke (as was the case a few years ago when we lost to Bolton at the same stage), but honestly, now I’m not all that fussed about the FA Cup. It simply does not have the glamour or the prestige it used to. There will always be one Premier League club who get drawn against teams two or three divisons below them ALL the way to at least the quarter finals (come on, it happens to Chelsea almost EVERY year!) which kind of makes a bit of a mockery out of the whole competition. Granted it’s nice to have a great cup run but at the end of the day it’s a nice bonus and that’s all – the title and CL must come first, so I think Wenger got it right in not risking to many quality players for 90 mins in this fading tournament when Arsenal simply don’t have enough depth to their squad

  24. Glad to see amongst us Gooners although were are disappointed to a lose a match and to be out of the cup (neither are we used to being spoilt!) there is good understanding and support for AW (in we trust). Lads I will leave with a thought – we could have Rafa caught in headlights rather than a courageous brilliant Manager

  25. I’d like to know how many points people would settle for over the course of our next four matches (which will determine our season)?

    I’ve been thinking 7 or 8. However, we should probably be aiming for 10 considering the players that are coming back and the rest that certain players had yesterday.

  26. Do you people just hide out and wait for Arsenal to lose before you make a comment? Half the time I feel like some of our “fans” just love it when we lose like EVERY team does so you can push forth your Arsene hating agenda.

    Yes it is painfull to lose. Not winning the F.A Cup is sad but if we go forth to win the League or Champions or both!! Are you really going to say “Wenger out! We should have won the F.A cup!”

    We were just top of the bloody league!!!! Find something else to moan about and leave Wenger alone!

  27. BTW, Ebue shud be back soon enough, ha?? n Song too, we don care anymore bout the AFCON, we have to get a trophy, so a pray Cameroon get kicked out so we can have a song to sing next weekend!!

  28. What about Walcotts contribution…I know Stoke closed him down well and defended stoutly but i must admit i was a little dissapointed…i expect more from him…I know hes just back from injury but his blistering pace should frighten any defence…..will he return to his old self soon!!

  29. It’s obvious why Wenger rested his key players for the majority of yesterday’s game, but the performance the team put in was horrible to watch. For the most part we were completely dominated by Stoke and I couldn’t see us winning at half-time with the team we had on the pitch.

    Fabianski was woeful in this game and his confidence will be shot to pieces. He was at fault for the first goal, barely moved for the third and just sat and watched the fourth disallowed goal go past him. He’s about 6ft 3, try throwing yourself around a bit!

    I think the positives were Sol’s return (which is kind of embarrassing) and Emmanuel-Thomas up front – he laid on some wonderful passing, though spearheading our attack he was not very good at. Traore in attack was quite mature as well.

    Vela and Walcott were anonymous and ineffective and I guess the whole match must have been pretty frustrating for Cesc. They stopped us having any passing rhythm at all. The drying-the-ball-before-a-throw-in nonsense was a farce considering next to no added time was given when he was wasting at least 90 seconds per throw in.

    Poor performance, made poorer by the fact that our three heavy hitters came on, yet they still ran riot.

  30. I really wanted to see Fabianski and Walcott do well. Unfortunately, Fabianski was giving me heart attacks when anything came into the box. I was hoping he could put some pressure on Almunia for the no. 1 spot. Can we see Mannone anytime soon? I remember being quite impressed with him at the start of the season. As for Walcott, I don’t know. Maybe he needs a good run of games to come back from injury a la Diaby.

  31. Diaby’s absence was noticeable. I’m not sure if I can agree with you Andy. I felt the centre back pairing was too slow to deal with Fuller – who isn’t the fastest man on the planet. Imagine if that had been Agbonlahor!

    One aspect that hasn’t been discussed. Wenger has said ‘oh we had no options – we had to rest Vaemalan and the rest’. But why don’t we have any options? Perhaps because we haven’t really strengthened our squad while we’ve had the chance. I know Campbell was a free transfer, but he is over the hill! Really, there is no centre backs in our squad to challenge Vermaelan and Gallas, whereas if you look at other teams, there certainly is (United and Chelsea).

    I’ve always reserved judgment of our keepers, hoping that they’d improve, but I feel fed up. Now more than ever, we need to buy a quality keeper. The clown-like keeping of Fabinski and the only slightly better Almunia undermines the confidence of the team.

  32. didn’t see the match, but one of your excellent comments I like much Andy, I am even surprised that there were a Fabregas, an Arshavin but of course they can’t make it always, hope that won’t be repeated in CL nor PL, hope really they will be rewarded this year for their engagement

  33. Sad and worrying. Will Theo Walcott ever improve his game? He should be up there with the regulars but he seems to be playing like a rookie. Just running but to nowhere.

  34. @robin,
    yes denilson is a smiling clown
    you keep sayin that the boss didnt sacrifice the cup and that the team he put out was good enough to beat stoke at home,wel to beat a team youv got to score goals.where did you foresee the goals coming from in that lineup???do we all think cesc will bail us out all the time???and how you can even attempt to applaud sylvestres contribution is baffling mate….his doesnt ‘put’ his body on the line; it ends up there thru poor mobility and judgement and he has been nothing but a liability every time hes donned the shirt….we had denilson marking sidibe for corners,we had 5 or 6 corners of our own at the end of the first half and all of them were shockingly tame……..for some reason we all seem to think its ok to hav got knocked out of one of the worlds most prestigious cups and a day out for all associated with the club at wembley,i cant understand it……maybe some of the bosses arrogance has rubbed off on you all…..all the big boys are still in the CL and we are only halfway thru the PL season…..utd and pool were eliminated from the fa cup and as such our main rivals were chelsea….now tell me again why its ok to be finished with the fa cup in january???

  35. darragh,
    wel said and i agree with you,the reason we didnt hav cover is because we are overly reliant on young,untested players,please dont gimme the list of injuries,i know who they are.fact is that walcott,vela,deni would hav started this game if we had every player fit and available and they looked like guys whod never played together and like guys who had no idea wot was in store when you played at the brittania,when we all how predictable they are
    andy you make stokes goal sound like a great,easy on the eye,pass and move master-piece ended with a beckham pin point rocket cross met by a thunderbolt of an alan shearer header……fact is it was an average uncontested run down the flank by a 6″5 frontman who was given to much time to FLOAT a ball into our danger area where sol was left one v one….come on sidibes hardly ronaldo,back to this thing of crediting the opposition rather than looking at the blatant weaknesses in our team…i mean every time we drop points or lose its becos the other team were ‘resurgent’ or had their best game this season,coincidence that this happens when they play us??everton,sunderland,stoke…..blah blah blah
    even if we had had just one strong robust player there yesterday it wuda been different….

  36. woohoo!!
    we have Song and Eboue back!!
    Ramsey should also be fit. Lets hope Nasri recovers quick

  37. Egypt is leading 3-1 in extra time. Song ready for ManU this weekend maybe?

    I can’t be the only one that noticed the incredibly slow (and poor) decision making in yesterday’s game. Players seemed to avoiding simple, open passes that would change the angle of attack and possibly open something up. They chose, instead, to try and slip passes and thru balls into incredibly small spaces. It’s not always a bad thing to try, but some of our gunners need to learn when it is unacceptable. I don’t want this to focus unnecessarily on Ramsey, but his poor decision led directly to Stoke’s second goal. He had an open pass available in the middle which could have opened up a full field switch. At the very least it would have moved stoke around a bit to try and get between them. Ramsey should have known Traore was to his left, in an offensive position. He knows he can’t lose the ball on the left side of the field when his left fullback is in front of him. Denilson’s complete lack of pace coupled with Sol and Silvestre’s decrepit ages didn’t help either.

    Song’s emergence this season has allowed the team to be more daring offensively. This has allowed TV5 and Gallas to attack without overly devastating negative results. But when there is no pace from 3 of the backs and no experience from the other, they have to recognize what they cannot get away with. Especially when Denilson is trying to pass as our DM.

  38. Thomas, Eboue is an Ivorian, not a Cameroonian! So its just Song back in next few days. Ramsey came on as a sub in Stoke game, so he must be OK.

    I feel positive about next few games, with Song and Bendtner coming back. The team that will tog out against Aston Villa is a completely different (i.e. better) kettle-of-fish than for the Stoke game.

  39. andy i have to disagree with some of your points regarding the stoke game,campbell mistimed his jump for the 2nd goal and allowed fuller a free header and tweetie never has or will put his body on the the line because his best days are long gone, how many games this season have we been outmuscled then we go to stoke knowing about delap,s long throw especially after last season and concede after 70 secs its pathetic.traore main concern should be defending not tearing down the wing putting crosses into the box, how many times in recent games has he been caught out of position ? i can forgive the lads losing a game but i cant forgive the lack of passion(apart from cesc) shown by too many players yesterday.

  40. @ peter ivory coast lost as well so eboue is on his way home to.i dont think song will play against villa its too soon after his game against egypt and long flight back home.

  41. Wow, a lot of hate geared at AW, Denilson and a few other players. I can understand the frustration, i really do. But….

    Why does youth automatically equal not taking it seriously? All of the youngsters that played yesterday…..this is their life. the FA cup and the Carling cup is their main opportunities for play time until (if) they can break into the senior squad. No one has to tell them to take this seriously. I think its a bit premature to say that they suck and are not arsenal material based on this one game (dont get me wrong, that was the worse Ive seen arsenal play in quite some time). Plus, even the senior squad, with all of our top guns….struggle vs. stoke away. In fact, only 3 teams have walked out of the Britannia with a win this season. Where is it guaranteed that with our top players we would have gotten a win? And even if we did, at what price? I for one, am with Wenger on this one. The kids need to know and understand pressure. There is no better place for that than the cup tournaments we play.

    Someone mentioned Walcott is an athlete that happens to play football. I hadnt thought about it that way, but I may be convinced on that point. There is no denying his pace and other aspects of his athleticism. His decision making however…..needs a lot of work to say the least. I know, I know, injuries and all of that. But, I’ve yet to see him improve from season to season. With other players you can definitely see the improvement. Bendtner for example, or Ramsey, or the much maligned Fabianski even. But you still see the improvement. With Theo, I cant find anything remotely approaching progress. He has been at the club 3 years now (or close enough to not matter). I think its time we start seriously considering our return on investment in the case of one Theo Walcott. Im sure AW sees something in him day in day out in practice. After 3 years, i dont think its unreasonable to wonder why we are not seeing it on pitch as well.

  42. Shambo – yeah I agree.

    I just think the FA cup was a better chance at silverware. Despite our good position, the probability of winning the league must be lower than that of the FA cup, particularly when United and Liverpool are out.

    I still think this team is developing. Its not far off sweeping all before them – but the league is going to be tight. A trophy is the way to keep this team together, and the FA cup was our best chance.

  43. I suggest for all who slaggish performance at stock and hammered AW, to watch the match again on Arsenal TV , specially SH. we dominated by far even befor AW brought the experience!!! in… two counter attack goals doesn’t prove otherwise, but for the back foure to be on more harmony which was missing!!!. to sign new players … people seem not to get it … it should be a player to fit arsenal stile rather, and it’s far being Typical british big CF!!

  44. Shambo,@andy..Question..
    Will there ever be a time in Wengers reign when the whole Arsenal squad will be experienced and strong enough for Wenger not to play such young and untried players in the FA or Carling cup. Or will this method of blooding players always exist. If the answer is no, then it is highly unlikely that Arsenal will ever do the double again because two chances are basically thrown away in order to give the kids experience. Unfortunately Wenger needs to keep them happy or else they might go unto pastures new, then what would be the point of an academy.

  45. i think it was a shame Wenger played the team he did. I, being a lover of the great game even before im a supporter of the hammers would say that it was a fantastic chance for Wenger to win a cup. It was there for the taking. I think Sol had a very SOLID game. To be honest just like the commentator and co commentator of the game i was quite surprised how well he was doing. I felt sorry for Fab’s for it was quite clear he was on a hiding to nothing because even if Arsenal wan Arsene would again gamble on the next game. At the physical level, Den has not quite got it and the task was made more difficult for him with the youth players not able to back im.

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