Arsenal 3 (Ramsey 5, Mertesacker 36, Sagna 72) – 1 Stoke City (Jerome 26)
Man of the Match – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
On a particularly dull day at the Emirates, Arsenal continued their winning streak, as they rollered past Stoke 3-1, to move to the top of the table, a position they will hold on to atleast for a week.
Theo Walcott was a late pullout from the squad, after he had a problem with his abdominal muscle during warmups. Young Serge Gnabry replaced the England international on the right. Mesut Ozil made his first start at the Emirates Stadium, and was greeted to a loud cheer when his name was called out. Mikel Arteta returned and was named on the bench. Among other unfamiliar names on the Arsenal bench were Danish football legend Niklas Bendtner.
Arsenal took barely 5 minutes to open the scoring. Charlie Adam fouled Jack Wilshere outside the box. Mesut Ozil’s curling free kick was parried away by a diving Asmir Begovic right on to the path of Aaron Ramsey, who coolly slotted the ball into the net. His celebration said it all, as he silenced the travelling support, who had been heckling the Welshman ever since the infamous Shawcross tackle. It was his 7th goal of the season.
Arsenal, as usual went back into their hive after scoring the first goal, and instead of showing urgency and pushing on for a second goal, allowed Stoke to come back into the game. The Potters enjoyed slots of good possession, and they finally made Arsenal pay when Austrian striker Marko Arnautovic escaped the attentions of his former Werder Bremen teammate Per Mertesacker, only to volley the long ball from Steve N’Zonzi on to the post. Geoff Cameron was quickest to react and he leveled the scores. It was a mistake Arsenal could easily have avoided.
Arsenal set about their task again, and managed to take the lead 9 minutes before half-time, as Per Mertesacker rose highest to cheekily head in the second goal off a Mesut Ozil corner.
Arsenal again failed to build on their lead, allowing Stoke plenty of time and possession on the ball. Stoke managed to dominate possession, and ended up with 51% of the ball, but failed to carve out any clear opportunities.
Serge Gnabry and Jack Wilshere were the only ones in the Arsenal side providing some spark, with the German forcing a save off Begovic, with his rasping left footed drive, while Wilshere was clobbered several times by brick walls made by Stoke players. There was a brilliant moment, when Mathieu Flamini warned Marc Wilson after he tackled Wilshere with the words “Do it again & I will blind you.”.
Arsenal won another free kick, and Ozil’s looping ball was met by a looping header from Sagna. It sailed past Begovic into the net, and the Frenchman celebrated gleefully.
Arsenal then went about the task of limiting Stoke to seal a 3-1 win that sees them move to the top of the league. Mikel Arteta, Nacho Monreal and Ryo Miyaichi all played cameos.
It was especially heartening to see Mathieu Flamini taking on the role of a midfield general and barking out orders to the defence. There were some defensive discrepancies once in a while, but overall Arsenal have been solid.
Mesut Ozil was at his masterful best against a Stoke side, known for its physicality more than anything else. Serge Gnabry looked exciting as well, but is still young. There will be a few injury concerns over Jack Wilshere.
Aaron Ramsey was majestic again and he looks like a player really enjoying his game now. There will of course a lot of satisfaction as he silenced the Stoke fans with his goal.
The manager will have some freedom to rotate in midweek in the Capitol One Cup against West Bromwich Albion. We could probably see Niklas Bendtner hobble up front. Arteta could make a start as well, while Emiliano Viviano is expected to make his debut. Thomas Vermaelen, Nacho Monreal and Carl Jenkinson too should get starts as they look to prove themselves for a first team slate.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————– While you are about it, follow Blazing Cannons on twitter. @blazingcannons
And do like, the Facebook page as well.
Go ahead you lazy bum, that’s all I ask of you!