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Three things learnt as Stoke City claimed a shock 1-0 victory over Arsenal

Rob Meech

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Jese Rodriguez

Jese Rodriguez enjoyed a stunning debut by scoring the only goal of the game as Stoke City shocked Arsenal in the Premier League’s evening game.

The Potters had been massive underdogs beforehand, but they found a way to win despite having only 23 per cent of the possession.

Goalkeeper Jack Butland made several fine saves to keep the home side in contention before Jese struck the decisive blow shortly after the second-half restart.

Arsenal do not have fond memories of the Bet365 Stadium and this was another forgettable occasion for them to add to their collection. Here are three things we learned.

A debut to remember for Jese

He only officially joined on a season-long loan from Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, but Stoke manager Mark Hughes had no hesitation in throwing in Jese at the deep end.

The former Real Madrid winger repaid his boss’s faith by scoring on his debut as the Potters earned their first points of the season. After latching on to Saido Berahino’s pass, the 24-year-old showed great composure to slide the ball home from a tight angle, much to the delight of the home faithful.

Goals have been hard to come by in recent times for Stoke, so Hughes will be delighted with the newcomer’s immediate impact. Jese has always been a talented player but suffered a huge setback when he sustained a serious knee injury before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Could Stoke prove to be the perfect place to resurrect his career?

Arsenal’s Bet365 Stadium hoodoo strikes again 

Arsenal’s poor record at the Bet365 Stadium is usually blamed on their failure to withstand Stoke’s physicality, about which Wenger has often complained.

This time, however, it was due to their inability to translate possession and territorial dominance into goals. They managed 18 shots during the 90 minutes – six of which were on target – but could not find a way past goalkeeper Butland.

Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal’s big-money summer signing, had a goal chalked off for offside which would have levelled the scoreline, but this was not to be their day.

The Gunners have too many days like this and last season it cost them a Champions League position. After netting four goals in their opening fixture against Leicester City, drawing a blank would not have been in Wenger’s mind.

Butland enhances his England prospects

As referenced above, Butland turned in a fine performance in front of the BT Sport cameras, which would most certainly have caught the eye of England manager Gareth Southgate.

Indeed, the former Birmingham City gloveman was named man of the match for a string of excellent saves, particularly in the first half when the game was goalless.

Last season was practically a write-off for Butland, who spent 12 months on the sidelines after breaking his ankle for England against Germany in March 2016. It cost him his place at last year’s European Championship, just when he was putting pressure on Joe Hart.

Butland is set to be named in the England squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia – and on this evidence he may well take the number one jersey from Hart.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech

Arsenal

Criticism of Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson unfair? stats suggest he’s England’s best option

The midfielder came under scrutiny for his latest performance.

Jamie Watts

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England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time header ensured England started the tournament with maximum points, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of points in Volograd.

A promising opening 20 minutes was encored by ponderous and slow football in the second half, after the team began looking seemingly affected by Tunisia’s equaliser.

The additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added impetus and purpose to the attack late on.

But prior to that, England struggled in pursuit of a second, and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson came under fire for what was deemed to be a lack of creativity.

Photo: Getty Images

Many fans were questioning the omission of Jack Wilshere from England duties, as Gareth Southgate opted for the Liverpool man as the regular in central midfield. But last season’s statistics show some maybe being preemptive in wanting to replace the 28-year-old this World Cup.

Squawka stats (below) show that the Liverpool man was superior to both Eric Dier and Jack Wilshere in all aspects of midfield play in the Premier League last term, suggesting he could very well be the right man to continue starting for the Three Lions.

The former Sunderland man bested his two counterparts for number of forward passes, average pass length, key passes, tackles won, aerial duels won and chances created (all per 90 minutes), which sheds some light on why he’s a regular in Southgate’s team.

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Arsenal

Fans criticise Jack Wilshere omission after Jordan Henderson’s ‘toothless’ England performance

Gareth Southgate’s bold decision is already being questioned.

Jamie Watts

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England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time winner ensured England started the tournament with a victory, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of the points in Volgograd.

After a promising opening 20 minutes, England’s shortcomings in front of goal were punished as Tunisia were awarded a penalty – using VAR – and Ferjani Sassi equalised from the spot, heaping pressure on Gareth Southgate’s outfit to score a second.

But creativity was scarce from the Three Lions, in what was a stressful and frustrating half to watch for the nation.

Photo: Getty Images

And Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has come under fire for his performance in the heart of the midfield, with many believing that Arsenal‘s Jack Wilshere would have been more creative and imaginative in central midfield, if he wasn’t omitted from international duties this earlier this summer.

Henderson frequently opted for possession over creativity and was guilty of taking too many touches in the midfield yesterday, particularly in the second half and the speed of play was directly affected as a result.

Here’s the Twitter reaction:

By no means did the 28-year-old have an awful game, but his choice of pass was often safe and as a result England lacked impetus and drive in the second-half, until the additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added a spark in the final third.

Gareth Southgate will often opt for control in central midfield against tougher opposition – with Belgium on the horizon – but against the likes of Tunisia and Panama, the side can afford to take more risks and be more inventive, and the decision to leave Wilshere at home is already being questioned after just one game.

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Crystal Palace fans thrilled with reports of Jack Wilshere interest

Crystal Palace fans are keen on the reported deal.

Jamie Watts

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Crystal Palace are keen on landing long-serving Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, if the 26-year-old leaves the Emirates this summer, according to reports from Evening Standard.

A move to Selhurst Park would reunite Wilshere with Roy Hodgson, his former England manager and a coach, whose belief in the Gunner is undeniable.

Hodgson displayed his admiration for the midfielder, after taking him the 2016 Euros despite him barely playing all season and he believes he could add the perfect balance to the Eagles’ midfield alongside enforcer Luka Milivojevic.

Photo: Getty Images

Wilshere was left out of the England squad for the World Cup this summer due to his diminished role with Arsenal, and revealed his “disappointment” on the day through his official Twitter account.

It now appears he will prioritise making himself essential at both club and international level next season, and that is unlikely with Arsenal.

Having improved his fitness, which has widely been considered his primary weakness, making 38 appearances in all competitions last season, Wilshere could become a serious asset at Selhurst Park, and fans have taken to Twitter to discuss the reports.

Here’s the reaction:

Yohan Cabaye’s situation is currently unresolved at Selhurst Park, with reports suggesting that the 32-year-old could potentially move to Ligue 1 giants Marseille this summer, and the Frenchman would need replacing.

Having joined in 2015 for £10 million from French champions Paris Saint Germain, the veteran midfielder played a key role in the Eagles relegation survival, acting as the catalyst for control and mobility in the centre of the park.

Photo: Getty Images

And Wilshere would play a similar role. His agility and vision are reminiscent of Cabaye, but he has far more left in the tank.

It is safe to say the Englishman would be a real coup for Hodgson at Palace this summer and the fans agree its a deal the club should make happen.

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