By Chris Toronyi
We all dread seeing the words "Stoke (A)" on the schedule every year. It causes one's mood to plummet into a cocktail of rage, dislike and nervousness. Well, that's me. You could have a different way of feeling, but I'm pretty sure my ingredients are a part of your drink of choice.
The game itself was frustrating if you looked solely at the scoreline, but the effort and opportunity were there. The urgency to get a point or more was reflective in the play. Not for every second of the game - which is probably, most likely, never going to happen - but some people still seem to believe it's not only attainable but a must from each Arsenal player.
Our players want to win as much as the fans, but we've got to keep things in perspective. Other variables that the opposing team introduces affect how we play and act on the pitch. Not every pass will be perfect.
And by the way, the other team has a strategy to execute that will hopefully (not) amount to a win. And they have players that are most likely pretty good at this "soccer" thing. Moving on...
As for the result, it gave us a point. A point. Nothing more, nothing less. We still control our own destiny to third. (Note: That phrase scares the hell out of me.) The remaining games will be difficult as the pressure to deliver maximum points is now a must given our dip in form these past three games.
The games we have remaining look easy on paper, but as we all know this time of the season brings a new dynamic to the fold. The pressures of delivering to the business side of the team become a priority - finishing in third brings about a flood of Champions League monies and Premier League monies that ensure financial health and stability. And most importantly, it brings confidence throughout the team as we look to summer and potential signings. (Welcome Lu-Lu!)
There is relief knowing that the teams behind us are also stretched, suffering from their own mental and physical obstacles.
Let's keep the faith. Be positive about our play. Be positive about our players. There is no other way.
And be sure to listen to this week's Podcast which should have three quality guests. Check @ArsenalAmerica on Twitter for the guest list in the coming days. Thanks for listening.
April 24: Making a point
April 18: Different kinds of tired
April 12: Emotionally spent
March 29: No doubt
March 23: An amazing run
March 13: Mad Men, mad season
March 6: Rush of emotion
February 29: Pride and joy
February 14: An evolving Arsenal
February 22: Anger is beautiful
February 14: An evolving Arsenal
February 8: A welcome display
February 1: The value of value
January 31: FA Cup magic
January 24: We have to be supportive
January 19: This is a massive game
'Stateside Gooner' Chris Toronyi is a longtime Arsenal supporter and the host of The Arsenal America podcast, available every Thursday evening at ArsenalAmerica.com. You can read more of Chris' thoughts on Twitter.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband Ltd.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 2 May 2012