The fine lines of a football match were illustrated by Arsenal's narrow loss to Stoke.
Stoke City midfielder Steven N'Zonzi has stated that he feels Arsenal simply couldn't cope with his side's approach at the weekend.
He told The Mirror: "If they don’t like it, we don’t care. We will keep on doing it, being strong and trying to be as good as we can be on the ball."
When it came to contesting the ball in the air, Arsenal did indeed lose more aerial battles than they have done in any game so far this Premier League season.
|Team||Match||Matchday||Aerial Lost||Aerial Won|
|Arsenal||Stoke vs Arsenal||28||28||24|
|Arsenal||Newcastle vs Arsenal||19||27||18|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Chelsea||17||27||19|
|Arsenal||Man Utd vs Arsenal||11||26||20|
|Arsenal||Crystal Palace vs Arsenal||09||20||13|
Yet the stats show they won 24 of their own, so it wasn't as though they were the pushovers, in this area at least, that some may make them out to be.
Arsenal had a win-loss differential in terms of aerial duels of -4, losing the game 1-0, while against Newcastle they ended up with a record of -9 yet won that game 1-0, while against Crystal Palace they landed up -7 yet won 2-0.
Where Arsenal really lost the game against Stoke City came not via the battle in the air, or the physical challenges, but their woeful finishing.
This shooting accuracy table comparing percentages of Arsenal's attempts landing on target this season, places the encounter at the Britannia joint bottom of the list - just a week after the game against Sunderland which was their best of the season.
|Team||Match||Matchday||Shot Attempts On Target %|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Sunderland||27||75.00|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Liverpool||10||58.33|
|Arsenal||Southampton vs Arsenal||23||57.14|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Norwich||08||55.00|
|Arsenal||Liverpool vs Arsenal||25||54.55|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Crystal Palace||24||54.55|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Stoke||05||52.94|
|Arsenal||Aston Villa vs Arsenal||21||50.00|
|Arsenal||Man City vs Arsenal||16||50.00|
|Arsenal||Fulham vs Arsenal||02||47.37|
|Arsenal||Newcastle vs Arsenal||19||45.45|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Everton||15||45.45|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Southampton||12||44.44|
|Arsenal||Sunderland vs Arsenal||04||42.86|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Spurs||03||41.67|
|Arsenal||Swansea vs Arsenal||06||40.00|
|Arsenal||Cardiff vs Arsenal||13||40.00|
|Arsenal||Crystal Palace vs Arsenal||09||40.00|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Fulham||22||36.36|
|Arsenal||West Brom vs Arsenal||07||35.71|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Hull||14||35.00|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Man Utd||26||29.41|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Chelsea||17||28.57|
|Arsenal||West Ham vs Arsenal||18||27.59|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Aston Villa||01||26.67|
|Arsenal||Arsenal vs Cardiff||20||21.43|
|Arsenal||Stoke vs Arsenal||28||20.00|
|Arsenal||Man Utd vs Arsenal||11||20.00|
Just like the 1-0 loss to Manchester United earlier in the season, Arsenal did not give themselves a chance, by firing 80 per cent of their shots off target - highlighted by Yaya Sanogo blazing a late opportunity over the bar from inside the penalty area.
While it was the poor finishing which undid the Gunners, intriguingly the match against United also saw them lose 25+ aerial duels. If teams feel that by being strong in the air they have a chance of throwing Arsenal off their game, there's a good chance Arsene Wenger's men will have to cope with more of it, and need to learn to sharpen up in such circumstances.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald