Match Report: Lukas Podolski's free-kick seals ugly victory for Arsenal against Stoke City

Arsenal 1 Stoke City 0: Roles reversed as Arsenal add physicality to outmuscle Stoke at the Emirates

the emirates stadium

By compromising, Arsenal may finally have found an element of consistency. Because, although this game was certainly not the best and often got downright ugly, it ended up being a very good day for Arsène Wenger's side.

To watch the highlights of this match, click here

Aside from results elsewhere going their way, they have now won two of their last three in the league thanks to Lukas Podolski's single goal. What's more, they continued a trend of always beating Stoke at home. So much for the general perceptions of the two sides – even if previous needle was evident, not least when Ryan Shawcross went in heavily on Laurent Koscielny.

As Wenger said of Nacho Monreal's impressive debut, there's "no better culture shock than Stoke!"

There is, however, one caveat to this result. Arsenal have still found no consistency in terms of performance. This was not a case of innovation against industry and they arguably played better during periods of their big defeats to Chelsea and Manchester City. The supposedly typical second-half flourish never quite came.

The nature of the game was encapsulated by Jack Wilshere and Michael Owen squaring up after the latter lashed out at Mikel Arteta for a very Stoke-like challenge.

The nature of Arsenal's uninspired attack was illustrated by the fact the only goal came from a fortuitous deflection from a free-kick.

Even if that was fortunate, though, the most important aspect of the game was that it had the feel of a contest Arsenal would have dropped points in earlier in the season.

Instead, they rallied, persevered and ultimately got the right result.

As Wenger admitted, they "prepared mentally" for the physicality of the contest.

That contrast between ends and means does give rise to two key questions, however. Although Olivier Giroud offered a lot of proactive touches, will Wenger regret not signing another attacking option given that he had to bring on Santi Cazorla and Podolski to inject creativity? On the other hand, will the manner of a result like this finally give Arsenal the mental belief and momentum to kick on and replicate last season's run-in?

"We were in a position where we can't drop points," Wenger said. "Overall, we deserved to win the game. It strengthens our belief and confidence."

The somewhat curious nature of the game was summed up by the fact that, in the first half, it was Stoke taking shots while Arsenal attempted to cross and force efforts from set-pieces. When one corner did drop, Asmir Bergovic reacted superbly to keep out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's effort, before then touching wide another of the winger's shots just before half-time.

In truth, Arsenal didn't really trouble the keeper in the second half as they toiled for a winner. As such, it was somewhat fitting that Begovic could do nothing about the eventual goal. With the keeper diving to his right, Podolski's strike deflected into the centre.

And, although the flag first went up because Theo Walcott was offside out wide, it was correctly overruled.

It may well prove the stroke of fortune that fires Arsenal's campaign.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker