Arsenal don’t win at Stoke, until they do and then they smash some Orcs.
A very good performance from Arsenal that showed some actual mental strength, so how did the players get on individually?
Petr Cech 8
Was a spectator for the first half but made to earn his wages in the second at a succession of Stoke corners where he had to battle being fouled as Mike Dean just looked in the other direction. He handled it all and continued his great form since returning from injury. No blame on him for Stoke’s cheaty goal.
Rob Holding 8
Calm, composed, assured. Bargain of the season? Holding is firmly establishing himself as a fan favourite by being unflappable, hard in the tackle, and doing it all with a baby face that is impossible to dislike.
Shkodran Mustafi 7
Pinged some wonderful long balls, had a intelligent lobbed headed effort well saved by Jack Butland. Another who looks completely refreshed since his little rest through injury.
Laurent Koscielny 7
The first half was just the sort of game you’d like on your return from injury, the second not so much. But Kos is Kos and it was no problem.
Hector Bellerin 7
Certainly not the Hector Bellerin we’ve all come to know and love, every performance gives more credence to the rumours he’s carrying an ankle injury that might require surgery in the summer. Still managed to pick out Giroud for the opener.
Francis Coquelin 7
It was his birthday but he got no love from Arsenal fans when his name was revealed in the starting lineup. Needing to rest Aaron Ramsey, nobody can work out why Mohamed Elneny has been tarred with the Lucas brush, but it was to Le Coq Wenger turned instead. Was his usual high-energy self whose only purpose on the planet is to destroy all around him, be that Stoke or Arsenal attacks. Kept it simple which made it a very decent performance.
Granit Xhaka 7
Some people think he isn’t worth the money Arsenal paid for him. Quietly efficient while displaying his range of passing and didn’t get booked. Almost as if he’s perfectly able to control himself.
Nacho Monreal 8
Found loads of space and joy in behind the Stoke defence. Hit the post. Has taken to the role of wing-back with all the passion of a pig spotting some mud on a hot summer’s day.
Alexis Sanchez 8
Again dropping deep to get the ball in this new system, played a filthy pass to Ozil for Arsenal’s second. Scored Arsenal’s third despite being injured to ease the pressure off Arsenal after Stoke had cheated to pull one back. Best all-round performance from him in some time. Was limping at the end of the match. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious but you’d have to think he’s out for the Sunderland game.
Mesut Ozil 8
Stoke away is the perfect example of a game Ozil-haters would point to and say ‘he doesn’t fancy it’ – except he did. He was industrious, as well as insightful and was found all over the pitch. The commentator probably didn’t notice as he kept calling him Bellerin, which explains why so many think Ozil has done nothing lately as Bellerin hasn’t even been playing. Scored an absolutely beautiful ‘Arsenal’ goal that he started.
Olivier Giroud 8
Back in order to give Danny Welbeck a rest, and to help out at set-pieces against Stoke’s trees, Giroud was isolated for large chunks of the game in the first half as Ozil and Alexis dropped deep to get the ball. Trees, as you know, don’t move too well and a nimble forward might have had more luck said many. Giroud answered with two goals, taking him to 16 for the season, 12 in the league.
Aaron Ramsey 7
Replaced Alexis in the 76th minute after he had restored Arsenal’s lead and could have scored immediately but Butland saved well. It didn’t matter, Ramsey just went and made another chance a few minutes later as he put it on a plate for Giroud. Also tried a backheel nutmeg.
Danny Welbeck NA
Replaced Mesut Ozil after 82 minutes.
Theo Walcott NA
Replaced Olivier Giroud after 82 minutes. Been so long since we’ve seen him, he has hair now.