Olivier Giroud found himself on the receiving end of a less than kindly challenge from Glenn Whelan just before the break, and later some rough treatment from Charlie Adam that has since seen the ex-Liverpool man charged with violent conduct by the FA.
Steve N'Zonzi was unabashed about his side’s approach in the aftermath of the contest, stating that Stoke’s intent was indeed to throw Arsenal off their game.
As a free-flowing team that relies on technical qualities, an opponent determined to engage somatically as Stoke did is seemingly destined to have a greater chance of getting some reward.
And according to the stats, the Potters aren’t the first to take points off of Arsenal this term using force as a means to conquer.
On the 13 occasions this term that Arsene Wenger’s men have been fouled 12 or more times, their record stands at seven wins, one draw and five losses.
|Arsenal vs Aston Villa||01||18||0||0||1||0|
|Liverpool vs Arsenal||25||14||0||0||1||0|
|Arsenal vs Crystal Palace||24||14||1||0||0||3|
|Arsenal vs Stoke||05||14||1||0||0||3|
|Arsenal vs Southampton||12||14||1||0||0||3|
|Arsenal vs Spurs||03||14||1||0||0||3|
|Arsenal vs Man Utd||26||13||0||1||0||1|
|Stoke vs Arsenal||28||13||0||0||1||0|
|Man City vs Arsenal||16||12||0||0||1||0|
|Aston Villa vs Arsenal||21||12||1||0||0||3|
|Sunderland vs Arsenal||04||12||1||0||0||3|
|Man Utd vs Arsenal||11||12||0||0||1||0|
|Crystal Palace vs Arsenal||09||12||1||0||0||3|
That’s 17 points dropped - of course, seven victories seem to make up at least in part for the high ratio of defeats in this area, but it’s in comparison that the entire picture becomes clear.
When fouled less than 12 times over the 90 minutes to date, Arsenal have claimed 11 wins and four draws, not capitulating once and seeing just eight of 45 possible points slip away.
|Arsenal vs Chelsea||17||11||0||1||0||1|
|Southampton vs Arsenal||23||11||0||1||0||1|
|Arsenal vs Cardiff||20||11||1||0||0||3|
|Arsenal vs Sunderland||27||11||1||0||0||3|
|Fulham vs Arsenal||02||10||1||0||0||3|
|Arsenal vs Everton||15||10||0||1||0||1|
|Newcastle vs Arsenal||19||10||1||0||0||3|
|West Ham vs Arsenal||18||10||1||0||0||3|
|Arsenal vs Norwich||08||7||1||0||0||3|
|Arsenal vs Fulham||22||7||1||0||0||3|
|Arsenal vs Liverpool||10||7||1||0||0||3|
|Arsenal vs Hull||14||6||1||0||0||3|
|Cardiff vs Arsenal||13||6||1||0||0||3|
|West Brom vs Arsenal||07||6||0||1||0||1|
|Swansea vs Arsenal||06||5||1||0||0||3|
It’s a stunning juxtaposition - each one of the Gunners’ five losses this term have come when adversaries have handled them unsympathetically.
Quite simply, the Gunners don’t like being subjected to brawn.
Taking a physical approach of course isn’t a sure-fire way to deny the North London outfit a result, but at least seems the most effective method to put them in an uncomfortable position and counteract there style of play.
Stoke, for their part, knew this heading into Saturday’s encounter and took full advantage, as Nzonzi unapologetically shared.
“We know that Arsenal play good football but when you start kicking them a little bit, it gets harder for them,” he said.
“They don’t like it, we know that. We don’t care. We’ll keep on doing it, being strong and trying to be as good as we can be on the ball.
“It’s not a surprise to hear they have been moaning because they have plenty of technical players.”
Harsh or not, the Frenchman is right, and the numbers are there to back him up.
So perhaps more clubs will be keen to take the Gunners on in the same manners as the Potters with notice certainly having been taken of the weekend’s events - the wider trend only enforcing the contention that Arsenal are vulnerable to those willing to adopt the bully method.
image: © crystian cruz