Football Team 1 Rugby Thugs 0. I was just thinking after the Leyton Orient game that Arsenal very rarely win 1-0, and when they do it's generally through a late winner rather than an early one. Usually if there is an early goal in an Arsenal game, there's going to be at least one more goal in the game. Not last night though...
So after stand in centre half Sebastien Squillaci nodded Arsenal in front after 8 minutes I was thinking 'Hmm, I wonder who's going to score next- Arsenal or Stoke?'
I might have been right to wonder had Cesc Fabregas not limped off after 14 minutes, as his unfortunate departure hindered the game. Arsenal were less fluent, less inventive, less creative and less threatening. However, the Gunners showed the true grit of champions by holding on without being troubled much as Stoke struggled to create chances.
It wasn't the most beautiful Arsenal performance ever, but the most important thing is that they won. You can't play brilliantly all the time, even at home. And what with Fabregas going off early doors and van Persie not being available it was always going to be difficult to be as good as they normally are when those two are playing.
Alan Hansen will have probably being drooling last night, seeing a title chasing team 'grind out a 1-0 win' and while I think his obsession with this is a bit OTT, he is right in (constantly) saying it's a good quality to have and it is a sign of a very good, maturing team.