STOKE CITY were forced to settle for their eighth draw in twelve Barclays Premier League matches following a goalless stalemate with Arsenal at the Britannia Stadium.
A game of few clearcut goalscoring opportunities in front of the Sky Sports cameras saw summer signing Geoff Cameron make an impressive home debut, but Tony Pulis’ side found it difficult breaking down a determined and resilient Gunners outfit.
Jonathan Walters had the ball in the net early on, but that was ruled out for offside, while there were a number of other moments when they went close.
Overall though, the draw was probably a fair result as Arsenal drew a blank again after their goalless draw on the opening day against Sunderland last weekend.
It ended City’s unbeaten run at home against the so-called top sides after getting results against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and the two Manchester clubs in Premier League meetings at the Britannia Stadium last season.
As well as handing home debut to summer signings Cameron and Kightly, Pulis recalled Pennant in place of the unfit Etherington as he made two changes to the side that opened the new season with a 1-1 draw at Reading last weekend.
Cameron, who had only arrived back from the United States little more than 48 hours earlier, slotted into the centre of midfield in place of the suspended Whitehead and wasted no time in making his mark with some neat touches.
City were quicker out of the starting blocks and put the Arsenal defence under some pressure before having a ruled out in the sixth minute.
Wilson delivered a high ball into the Arsenal area which was neatly flicked on by the head of Crouch, but Walters had drifted fractionally offside as he managed to keep down his hooked shot sufficiently for it to finish in the roof of the net.
Arsenal perhaps felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the ninth minute when Wilkinson, having initially slipped as he tried to close down Podolski, then managed to block the German’s shot at goal with what appeared to be his arm.
Huth was then in the right place at the right time to snuff out the danger posed by a low cross from Gibbs when he burst forward on the overlap.
After beginning the game on a promising note, City found themselves having to concede possession to the Gunners as they settled into their pattern of play, although there were only a couple of moments when they threatened to go in front.
Huth was booked for a foul which halted fellow German Podolski in his tracks on the edge of the box, but the resulting free kick was poorly executed by Cazorla whose first shot hit the wall before he lashed the rebound well wide of the target.
Wilkinson injected some energy into City’s performance with a characteristic burst down the right and after Crouch had a slid a return pass into his path, his rather ambitious low shot was never going to provide too much trouble for Mannone.
Walters then made good headway with a run down the right hand side and when his cross was blocked by Vermaelen, the Republic of Ireland international then set up Kightly whose long range shot was well struck but flew over the bar.
City ‘keeper Begovic was forced into making his first save of the game when he dived to his right to push away a stinging drive from Cazorla after referee Mason allowed play to continue rather than blow up for Wilson’s foul on Arteta.
Although the Potters were forced to soak up a considerable amount of pressure, they produced a neat build-up right at the end of the half as Pennant released Cameron down the right hand side but his cross just evaded Crouch at the far post.
After spending the closing stages of the second half on the back foot, City exerted more pressure on the Gunners after the break as Crouch caused them particular problems with his aerial presence and tried to set up another chance for Kightly.
However, it was on the opposite flank that the Potters felt they should have been given the chance to go in front from the penalty spot as Pennant bursting down the right was clearly pushed by Gibbs, but referee Mason waved away the appeals.
Pulis made his first change of the afternoon when he introduced Jerome in place of the tiring Pennant with Walters moving out wide.
Arsenal had a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock from a well-worked corner as Cazorla picked out the unmarked Giroud, but the Frenchman got his left foot volley horribly wrong and it bounced harmlessly wide of the target.
The Gunners sensed the opportunity to gain the upper hand and Wilkinson was booked for a foul on Giroud which led to them being awarded a free kick on the edge of the box, but Arteta’s fiercely struck drive cannoned against the wall.
Two further changes followed in quick succession for the Potters as first Crouch and then Whelan made way for Shotton and Palacios.
With time running out, City had a rare opportunity when Kightly won possession with some determined work and threaded a pass through to Walters, but although the striker got clear of his marker his first time shot was a poor one.
At the other end, the Potters were caught on the break as Oxlade-Chamberlain dispossessed Palacios and set Giroud away down the left from where he tried an audacious chip which shaved the top of the bar with Begovic scrambling back.