Arsenal can’t defend crosses
Ok, so this is not a new revelation, but Arsenal’s defending of crosses plunged such depths of ineptitude against Stoke that it is certainly worth reflecting upon.
It took only 19 seconds for this fragility to be exposed as Steven Nzonzi hared down the Stoke right from the off and whipped the ball in behind the Arsenal backline. Confusion abounded as Mame Biram Diouf got his head on the cross and Hector Bellerin struggled to clear, allowing Peter Crouch to steal in for a simple finish.
Bojan was the next to benefit from uncertainty and incompetence in the Arsenal defence as Jonathan Walters’ cross, coming from the same flank once again, was met on the full by the La Masia graduate who had ghosted into the box unpursued.
There was to be a third goal before the interval and, of course, it came as the result of a ball into the Arsenal area. It was a corner this time which Crouch met as all but one Arsenal player remained rooted to the ground, and his touch fell kindly to Walters to convert.
Arsenal’s inability to repel crosses in the first period was not helped by the fielding of another re-jigged back four. But would such problems have been encountered if Arsene Wenger had splashed out for a centre-back of repute in the summer?