Arsenal defeated Stoke at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon, easily dealing with the Potters and leaving with all three points after a 2-0 win.
Despite being told that Per Mertesacker had recovered from the virus that had kept him out of the last two matches, there was no place in the squad for the big German as Gabriel kept his spot. Theo Walcott was picked ahead of Olivier Giroud.
It took just three minutes for the first clear-cut chance; Alexis denied by a fantastic save from Jack Butland and Walcott not doing his ‘natural striker’ claims any good by pushing the rebound wide when it looked easier to score.
Chance after chance followed as Arsenal passed and picked Stoke off at will; the Gunners as they so often do looking to get an early goal on the scoresheet but poor finishing, great saves and the woodwork were all getting in their way.
The breakthrough finally came after half an hour and it was off the back of a rare Stoke foray into the Arsenal half. Losing possession, a quick ball over the top from Mesut Ozil found Theo who slotted it past Butland.
It was Theo’s 11th goal in 11 Premier League starts.
The second half was more of the same, albeit less frenetic, with Arsenal camped in the Stoke half however they were no longer testing Butland and the Gunners looked at their most dangerous on the rare occasion that Stoke ventured forward and left space in behind.
Arsenal dropped off more as the half wore on, allowing Stoke started to gain their first foothold in the match although they never got close enough to test Cech despite some nervy moments at at the back.
That short period seemed to wake Arsenal up again and they pressed hard for the second as first Ozil and then Walcott were denied by Stoke’s keeper in quick succession.
Olivier Giroud, brought on to replace Walcott with 15 to go, was presented with a glorious opportunity to double Arsenal’s lead but he saw his spin and shot roll wide. It was his first touch.
With five minutes on the clock, the second finally came via Giroud’s head as he rose unchallenged to meet a Santi Cazorla freekick at the front post.
In all, the Gunners showed some familiar problems in front of goal with wasteful finishing, but they won and kept a cleansheet. Can’t argue with that too much, although I’m sure many will try their best.
Full report here.