Gunners put pay to the Potters
Written By: Robert Halter
Arsenal had won each of their seven home games against Stoke City in the Premier League. On three minutes from a great ball in by Santi Cazorla, a leap from Alexis Sanchez, saw his header crash against the right post and from the follow up the shin of Theo Walcott, put the ball over in front of the target. Then on six minutes, after a foul by Marco Van Ginkel on Aaron Ramsey, a soaring free kick by Sanchez brought off a full length save from Potters keeper, Jack Butland, as he dived to his right. For the second time, Sanchez drove the ball against the bottom of the right post, through an assist by Francis Coquelin. Then within sixty seconds, from a delivery by Hector Bellerin, the ball found Walcott, who blazed a header over at a gapping goal. On the seventeenth minute, Van Ginkel won a free kick after an infringement by Cazorla, and as Xherdan Shaqiri delivered a free kick, as Petr Cech punched the ball clear, Mato Joselu fell to the ground on the wrong end of a clash with the Arsenal keeper. In the twenty third minute from over thirty yards out, a bending strike by Laurent Koscielny, had to be pushed over by Butland. But there was more work to do for Butland, who made a close range save from Cazorla, two minutes later, after a poor clearance by Glenn Whelan, as Mesut Ozil, put the ball into the area. Finally the deadlock was broken on thirty one minutes, as Coquelin won possession from Joselu, and with a ball over the top by Ozil, the pass found Walcott, who beat off the challenge of Marc Muniesa, and put the ball past Butland, into the centre of the net. The Potters looked for a response on thirty three minutes, as Cech parried away Joselu’s strike, and from the rebound, Mame Biram Diouf’s shot from outside the box was again saved by Cech. In the fifty second minute, down the left flank, Coquelin found Nacho Monreal, but as Walcott lurked at the near post, Geoff Cameron, stifled the danger. But Stoke responded within three minutes, with build up play between Marko Arnautovic and Joselu, whose ball across was too far over for the advancing Diouf. On fifty seven minutes, Shakiri cut in from the left and his low stinging strike was pushed away from the outstretched finger tips of Cech. The Potters then changed Joselu with Stephen Ireland. On the hour mark, from an Erik Pieters ball in the box, a strong body check by Koscielny on Arnautovic, smothered the situation. On sixty five minutes, Coquelin down the left flank found Ozil, and Butland had to push the ball into the outside netting at his near post. Within two minutes, a cross by Bellerin on the right missed Ozil, before a weak strike by Walcott was comfortably picked up by Butland. Another chance went the way of Arsenal when Cazorla found Ozil, whose shot was kept out by a near post stop by Butland, on sixty nine minutes. The play switched direction when Bellerin’s ball over found Walcott but again Butland made a strong block, two minutes later. Stoke made a second change with Bojan Krkic on for Diouf before Arsenal replaced Walcott with Olivier Giroud, who could have made an immediate impact as after Van Ginkel’s poor back pass, Whelan miss timed his challenge on Giroud, who dragged his shot wide of the right post. The Gunners continued to press on seventy eight minutes, when Cazorla jinked his way through, before unleashing a low drive that went agonisingly past Butland’s near post. Arsenal made late changes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Sanchez and Mikel Arteta on for Ozil. In the eighty fifth minute, Arsenal sealed victory following a rash challenge by Phil Bardsley on Oxlade-Chamberlain and as Cazorla whipped in a free kick, Giroud’s solid header found the left side of the net. Within two minutes, from a neat touch by Arnautovic, the ball was bent wide from distance by Krkic. In the eighty ninth minute, Butland was at full stretch to keep out Koscielny’s goal bound header from a Cazorla free kick, after the Spaniard had been brought down by Pieters, before Arsenal preserved their hundred percent home record against Stoke City.