Arsenal managed to defeat Stoke in what was one of the most static matches of the season. The Gunners were still recovering after the Liverpool match and Stoke just couldn’t do anything of note. The winning goal came during the 77th minute, after Podolski’s deflected free kick fooled Asmir Begovic. As far as the game goes, Arsenal was the overall better team and dominated throughout the match. They were better organized and more eager to win. Wenger was very happy with the way his players handled the game and said that although the Gunners are a very offensive team and that they try to create as many chances as they can, luck is sometimes a big part of the game.
The match against Stoke was more of a successful test for future matches considering the defenses’ new recruit. Newly signed Nacho Monreal was included in the starting line-up and he managed to do a great job considering he has been with Arsenal for less than 4 days. Wenger completed his post-match statement by saying he is very happy with the fact that the defensive line kept it together and blocked Stoke on their way to goal.
Arsenal’s only acquisition for this winter was made rather hastily and would not have happened if for not Kieran Gibbs’s injury, which will keep him off the pitch for at least two months according to recent statements. Both fans and staff admitted to being a little nervous considering Monreal is going to be crucial for his team during the next few weeks, especially for Premier League matches and the FA Cup. As far as the Champions League goes, he is not allowed to play against Bayern because he already featured for Malaga in the group stages.
The main concern with Malaga’s former player was that he will not be able to adapt so quickly to the more physical approach to football, which is an important characteristic of the Premier League. The match against Stoke was a good christening for the Spaniard, as the opposing team did not work him that much. It is still too early to decide if Monreal can deal with the toughness of English football and if he is a good replacement for Gibbs and Santos but he had a good game and showed the fans it is no mistake he has already played for the Spanish national team and that Malaga managed to get past the Champions League group stages. He showed class and provided quality passes. He is fast and accurate and can provide some excellent crosses. He still has Primera’s signature written all over his way of playing the game, but he will probably acclimatise to the Premier League pretty quickly.
It is way too soon to say if he will do well with his next matches but the beginning is definitely promising. He may have been a necessary acquisition, but he looks to be money well spent. He is young and can be considered an investment for the future, as his value will probably increase in the next few years.