Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League but their Britannia Stadium hoodoo was extended with a goalless draw against Stoke City yesterday.
A point was enough to take Arsene Wenger’s side clear of Leicester City on goal difference but it was another afternoon of frustration in the Potteries for the veteran French manager.
His side have now failed to win at Stoke’s home ground in six attempts – a sequence that dates back to a 3-1 success in February 2010.
That victory became infamous for the sickening broken leg suffered by Gunners midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who was again singled out for some unsavoury abuse by Stoke fans during his 250th Arsenal appearance.
The bad blood from the injury and Ramsey’s refusal to accept Ryan Shawcross’s apology for the challenge that caused it remains for Stoke fans, who taunted Ramsey throughout on Sunday with boos and a chant about the damage caused to his leg.
Arsenal could not silence the home crowd as Stoke held their own, with both Potters goalkeeper Jack Butland and Arsenal counterpart Petr Cech in good form.
After a scrappy opening littered with fouls and poor passes, it was Stoke who carved out the first chance through Marko Arnautovic. The Austrian wandered in off the left flank to collect possession in a central area 30 yards from goal, but his ambitious effort flew high into the Arsenal fans behind Cech’s goal.
The game finally came to a semblance of life in the 20th minute when Glen Johnson and Jonathan Walters found space on the Stoke right to pick out Joselu on the edge of the area. His deft flick teed up Ibrahim Afellay, whose long-range effort flew a yard wide of the target. – Supersport.