PicturesReactionProgrammeWallpaperCup historySemi-final 1971Arsenal 2-1 Stoke City
FA Cup 3rd Round
Arsenal Stadium, Highbury
Sunday, January 9, 2005
Kick-off: 2pmMORE PICTURES
  • Neale Barry
  • 36,579

  • Jens Lehmann
  • Emmanuel Eboue
  • Justin Hoyte 71
  • Kolo Toure
  • Philippe Senderos
  • Gael Clichy
  • Jermaine Pennant
  • Patrick Vieira  
  • Cesc Fabregas
  • Robert Pires
  • Robin van Persie
  • Jose Reyes
  • Manuel Almunia
  • Pascal Cygan
  • Sebastian Larsson
  • Quincy Owusu Abeyie

  • Steve Simonsen
  • Wayne Thomas
  • Gerry Taggart
  • Lewis Buxton
  • Marcus Hall
  • Darel Russell
  • Chris Greenacre
  • Carl Asaba 77
  • John Halls
  • Karl Henry 52
  • Clive Clarke
  • John Eustace 77
  • Ade Akinbiyi
  • Jason Jarrett
  • Ed De Goey
  • Gifton Noel-Williams
ARSENAL2Reyes 50
Van Persie 70
STOKE CITY1Thomas 45

By Richard Clarke

It has been a weekend where the big guns wobbled but did not fall and so it proved at Highbury this afternoon. 

A well-drilled Stoke side came to Highbury with hopes of going one better than Exeter and Scunthorpe yesterday and actually reaching the FA Cup Fourth Round. They led through Wayne Thomas' goal on the stroke of half time and, in Ade Akinbiyi, carried a persistent threat. 

However Arsenal, who had been a little hesitant in the first half, steeled themselves during the interval and came out fighting. Jose Antonio Reyes stroked home the equaliser five minutes after the break and the excellent Robin van Persie flicked in the winner midway through the half. 

It was hard-fought but thoroughly deserved win. Yet there was also a hefty measure of relief in the cheers at full time.

Despite a raft of injuries, there was a elemrnt of rotation in Arsène Wenger's side. He chose to give Emmanuel Eboue his debut after completing his move from Beveren late last week. The 20-year-old Ivorian slotted in at right back in a youthful Arsenal defence. 

Thierry Henry was rested but Reyes was back from a knee injury and Pennant slotted in on the right-side of midfield. Lehmann returned to the starting line-up in place of Manuel Almunia.

For the record the injury list was the following: Sol Campbell (ankle), Gilberto (vertebrae), Edu (toe), Ashley Cole (ankle), Freddie Ljungberg (muscle), Jeremie Aliadiere (knee) and Pascal Cygan (back).

Around 9,000 Stoke fans packed the 'Clock End' Stand and their side lived up to their hard-working reputation in the first half. 

Van Persie went close with a couple of early efforts but the visitors were very organised defensively. In the 10th minute, a slip from Philippe Senderos let in Akinbiyi, whose shot looked destined for the sidenetting but Lehmann still made a fine save. 

However Arsenal were looking more likely to break the deadlock. Van Persie's flick sent Pires scuttling through but the Frenchman could not dribble through the massed ranks for the Stoke defence. 

In the 29th minute, Pires spread the ball wide to the right and Pennant collected, cut inside and forced a strong save from Simonsen.

Gael Clichy snuffed out a shot from Chris Greenacre at the far post but, at the other end, Van Persie sent a free-kick fizzing just over the bar and Vieira then set up the Dutchman to fire just wide.

It seemed Arsenal had some sort of control. However, right at the death, Thomas gleefully slid in to put Stoke in front after Lehmann had saved Akinbiyi's header.

Arsenal were a changed side after the break. Four minutes in, Fabregas set up Van Persie 10 yards out and the Dutchman swivelled before send a fierce shot at goal. Simonsen's save was superb.

Seconds later Arsenal were level. Toure darted to the byline and his cross was nodded back to Reyes on the edge of the area. The Spaniard hammered home his ninth goal of the season. 

Arsenal went for the kill. Reyes set up Van Persie to shoot at Simonsen and Vieira bundled the ball wide from a corner.

However Stoke were not spent. Gerry Taggart nodded on a corner and Greenacre's effort was headed off the line by Clichy. 

Yet, overall, Arsenal had successfully wrestled control of the game. Simonsen spilled Reyes shot but Van Persie could not profit, then Senderos just failed to get a touch on Pires' free-kick. Fabregas even got in on the act by spearing a shot just wide from distance. 

Akinbiyi, a pest for Arsenal all afternoon, again proved his worth in the 67th minute by spinning on the edge of the area and sending a dipping shot against the bar.

However, Arsenal were not in the mood to let this game slip. First Reyes set up Van Persie for a first-time effort before, finally, the winner arrived.

Reyes reached the byline and cut the ball back for Pennant. He clipped the ball to the near post where Van Persie, with his back to goal, flicked out a leg to fire the ball home. 

All afternoon, Stoke's strength had been their defensive organisation. Now they had to come out of their shell. It proved difficult and Arsenal were the nearer to adding to the scoresheet when Pennant tested the excellent Simonsen. 

But, given that massive scare just before half time, Wenger was surely just happy enough to be in the Fourth Round.


Jermaine Pennant evades Clive Clarke Chris Greenacre slides in on Cesc FabregasNew signing Emmanuel EboueReyes cracks in a shotIt flies past Steve Simonsen...and inReyes takes the plauditsRobin van Persie flicks in our secondOur scorers celebrate

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Richard Clarke 9 Jan 2005