• Dutchman rescues a point for Arsenal at Stoke City
• Wenger criticises Stoke fans' abuse of Aaron Ramsey
Arsenal inched closer to the financial imperative of Champions League qualification with a point in the bearpit that is the Britannia Stadium, after which, Arsène Wenger spoke of the need to sign a new striker for next season.
If his team hang on to third place, which would guarantee continued competition with Europe's elite, Wenger is prepared to break the habit of a managerial lifetime and spend big to provide Robin van Persie with more prolific support. The Dutchman, newly feted as Footballer of the Year, scored his 35th goal of the season to earn Arsenal a draw on a ground where their record is poor, and Wenger acknowledged that nobody else in his team on Saturday had contributed more than Thomas Vermaelen's six.
Theo Walcott, out injured, is the club's second highest scorer in the Premier League with eight in 34 appearances and Wenger said: "I think Van Persie has to push us over the line with two games to go. We have been over-relying on him for goals. It's something we have to address at the end of the season."
Arsenal have never adequately replaced Emmanuel Adebayor, and their need is for a new top Gunner to play Ian Wright to Van Persie's Dennis Bergkamp. To their credit, they are finishing the season strongly after a mid-term crisis that had the media, and a significant minority of fans, suggesting Wenger's time was up. In the argot of the stands, it's all gone quiet over there.
In the windswept tundra of the Britannia, where Arsenal have lost three and won only one of their past five, they steeled themselves for the physical examination Stoke set all comers, competed stoutly when the going got tough and dominated for long periods. Wenger must have thought "Here we go again" when Peter Crouch outjumped the centre-halves to register for his 13th goal of the season after only nine minutes, but Van Persie equalised quickly, with his sixth in four games against Stoke, and Arsenal were always the likelier winners thereafter.
It was a good, competitive match, spoiled somewhat for the non-partisan by the boorishness of the crowd. The Potteries punters have been baiting Wenger for years, since he first criticised their team's rudimentary style, but booing Arsenal's cohesive passing is asinine and abusing Aaron Ramsey for having a leg broken in two places by Ryan Shawcross two years ago is sick.
Wenger said: "I don't see what he [Ramsey] has done wrong to deserve that, but abuse exists in stadiums everywhere and I cannot stop it. It's easy to sit in the stands and insult people. This is one of the places where you face a big amount of hate. Yes, they boo our passing, but it's their way of taking the micky out of us. I've said many times that there's not just one approach to playing the game. Stoke do what they do very well and I respect that. Don't forget they did well in Europe [in the Europa League] this season."
Man of the match Robin van Persie (Arsenal)