Fuller double wrecks Campbell's big comeback

Stoke City 3 Arsenal 1: Wenger shuffles pack but plan misfires badly

The faint trace of a smile played across Arsène Wenger's face as he walked into the press room to dissect the match and his impeccably deadpan line when asked if he had been trying to avoid a replay with his three substitutions – "Yes, I did it" – did not feel like the delivery of an individual suffering any sense of loss.

Even the home side's fans could not conjure much interest in an FA Cup fourth-round tie which their side looked equal to – the turnout was less than 20,000 – so you could hardly blame Wenger for not being too possessed with it either. The four prospective top four sides whom Arsenal now face, starting with Aston Villa on Wednesday, are the preoccupation, though it is a sign of how much Champions League qualification has extinguished all else in the game that Wenger gambled on his place in a tournament when Manchester United and Liverpool no longer stood in his path.

The early 1970s footage of the era when Arsenal twice defeated Stoke in successive thrilling semi-final replays, screened in the stadium before the match, was a paean to the days before Europe butted in, but for a sense of the contrasting perspectives yesterday compare two players. Stoke's Ricardo Fuller carries a tattoo of a lion – and plays like one when the mood takes him, while Wenger's substitute Andrei Arshavin was about to run on to the field wearing a woolly hat until his manager whipped it off his head.

Though an invisible Theo Walcott and Carlos Vela both wore yellow boots, it wasn't so much a spirit of cowardice which saw Arsenal pounded into submission as the far greater spirit and zeal which Tony Pulis has engendered in Stoke. Integral to it was the half dozen or so missiles Rory Delap lobbed into the Arsenal area in the first half alone – though why referees allow Stoke the advantage of towelling the ball down first is a mystery. Martin Atkinson, yesterday's official, presided in December when one of the ballboys who carry the towels refused one to Birmingham's Liam Ridgewell.

Stoke played the physical, pressing game they needed to, though they can provide football, too. Matthew Etherington tormented Francis Coquelin, Wenger's 18-year-old right-back, Glenn Whelan and Dean Whitehead tackled and distributed with vim, Fuller showed why his fleeting drifts into form so frustrate Pulis at times and Mamady Sidibe provided the energy, drifting between midfield and the front line.

Arsenal's absorbing character was Sol Campbell – a chunkier figure than the defenders who lined up alongside him and one who laboured towards the end, the one memorable aspect of Arsenal's largely dispiriting performance. The trials of that run-out at Morecambe for Notts County, being outjumped at corners by a 33-year-old journeyman called Jim Bentley, must have seemed a cakewalk compared with the wet, inhospitable Potteries, yet he looked a lot more at home.

There were his handful of thumping aerial challenges on Sidibe in a first half which left Arsenal looking pole-axed and Campbell's unobtrusive hand gestures to Coquelin, as he guided him into line and position, spoke much for why Wenger has decided he is worth a return to the fold and is not about sentiment. Wenger hardly leapt on to suggestions put to him in the press room that this display reveals Campbell to be a potentially integral part of the campaign to come - "overall, an encouraging performance, yes" – and faster sides than Stoke could punish him at ground level. But it was a display of unexpected aerial strength greater than anything you expect in the usual back-up, Philippe Senderos. Though William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen are generally immovable, Campbell will surely appear again when Senderos leaves on loan.

He was certainly the principal contributor at the back as Wenger's side held back the tide which was breached after just 70 seconds when Cesc Fabregas erred – losing his man, Fuller, who ducked into the header from the first of Delap's missiles. Arsenal equalised, improbably, courtesy of a rather different throw-in of their own. Armand Traoré threw short to Fabregas, whose flick Dean Whithead handled, delivering the free-kick which the Spaniard squared for Denilson to last in, courtesy of a Whitehead deflection, three minutes from the break.

It looked as if Arsenal might make it through the second period, despite several flaps by Lukasz Fabianski, and the triple substitution – prompting Craig Eastmond's move back to the right side of defence with Aaron Ramsey in his place – gave the impression of Wenger's side moving in for the kill. But the perfect challenge Mikaël Silvestre needed to make as Delap had chested down a Whitehead ball and ran on to it in the box left him injured and Stoke struck twice in the space of eight minutes as he laboured.

First Whitehead sent Sidibe running down Stoke's right channel, evading Denilson and crossing before Silvestre could arrive to Fuller who angled a header after the ball had looped over Campbell. Then Campbell allowed Tuncay to knock him off the ball 20 yards out and permitted Etherington the space to cross low for Whitehead to tap home.

Pulis's dreams of a repeat of the early Seventies were punctured by the prospect of visiting Manchester City next, though he grinned at the suggestion that he has the Indian sign over Arsenal at the Britannia.

The date they are back here is 27 February: that European slot will take some fighting for.

Stoke City (4-4-1-1): Sorenson; Huth, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Collins; Delap (Diao, 85), Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington (Pugh, 90); Sidibe; Fuller (Tuncay, 85). Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Lawrence, Beattie, Wilkinson.

Arsenal (4-3-3): Fabianski; Coquelin (Ramsey 68) Campbell, Silvestre, Traoré; Eastmond, Denilson, Fabregas; Walcott, (Eduardo, 68), Emmanuel-Thomas (Arshavin 68), Vela. Substitutes not used: Mannone (gk), Rosicky, Bartley, Frimpong.

Referee: M Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

Man of the match: Fuller.

Attendance: 19,735.

Three down, one to go: Fall of the 'big four'

*The last time three of the "big four" failed to advance past the fourth round of the FA Cup was 10 years ago when again only Chelsea made it to round five. Arsenal lost at Leicester and Liverpool fell to Blackburn in the fourth round. Manchester United declined to enter due to the Club World Championship. Chelsea took advantage, going on to win the trophy.

*FA Cup winners odds

13-8 Chelsea, 4-1 Man City, 6-1 Aston Villa, 7-1 Spurs, 12-1 Fulham, 14-1 Birmingham, 25-1 Bolton .........  ......... (Coral)

Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say


Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

Life and Style

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album