Arsenal 3 – 1 Stoke
After recording ten consecutive away wins at Marseille, Arsenal were looking to grab yet another win, at home against a rough-and-tumble Stoke side. The Potters had started their season relatively well, and hoped to cause a traditionally brutal upset. [quote_right]”The ball lined up perfectly for Cameron to stroll through and place the ball into the bottom right-hand corner. It was a painfully predictable equalizer.”[/quote_right]
The first half began brilliantly for Arsenal. It took just five minutes before a decent Ozil free kick was parried by Begovic, but only to the feet of an in-form Aaron Ramsey, who slotted the ball home from close range.
Ramsey’s opener was welcome, but soon bred the familiar complacency that Arsenal suffer from after scoring early – much like their game against Aston Villa. Naturally then, Stoke gained some momentum over the next twenty minutes.
In the twenty-sixth minute, as Arsenal continued to relax, Stoke lofted in a cross to the back post, where Arnautovic struck the ball off the post. His shot rolled out to the edge of the area, lining up perfectly for Cameron to stroll through and place the ball into the bottom right-hand corner. It was a painfully predictable equalizer.
Thankfully however, Stoke’s goal served as an alarm bell for a sleepy Arsenal. Olivier Giroud was working tirelessly up front to bring his team mates into play, and Ozil backed up Ramsey, Wilshere and Gnabry – who was filling in for an ill Walcott, were helping to keep things moving.
In the thirty-sixth minute, Mesut Ozil grabbed himself another assist, as his cross was met beautifully by Mertesacker, who beautifully directed his header towards the back post. Koscielny and Begovic both scrambled to attack the loose ball, but both got in each others way, allowing the header to creep in, putting Arsenal ahead once again.
The rest of the half was played out calmly by Arsenal, who were happy to go in to half time a goal to the good, yet weary of Stoke’s ability to get back into the game.
The Gunners’ second period was far more efficient. Instead of resting on their two goals and conceding another, they worked hard right from the off, fending off a Stoke side full of ugly tackles and uglier faces.[quote_left]”Instead of resting on their two goals, Arsenal worked hard to fend off a Stoke side full of ugly tackles and uglier faces…”[/quote_left]
Despite some good offensive play, Arsenal’s third and final goal came from yet another set piece, taken superbly by Mesut Ozil once again. The German whizzed the ball in to the box, where Sagna rose highest, looping a header over Begovic and into the far corner.
Stoke continued to harass Arsenal, grappling with the midfield and launching into tackles, but The Gunners stood strong.
Arteta, Monreal and Miyaichi were thrown on to see out the game, and that’s exactly what they did. As the clock wound down, and the final whistle blew, Arsenal proudly walked down the tunnel knowing that – this time, it was they who had been the masters of the set piece.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Made quite a few good stops, and handled the ball well under pressure. Still needs to work on when he should and shouldn’t come off his line though.
Bacary was solid defensively all game, blocking shots and winning headers. He also got forward to help Gnabry a lot, and got a deserved goal via a nicely placed header.
Per was once again a rock at the back, stepping into challenges when needed to pluck out the ball, whilst throwing himself into headers too. His header from Ozil’s corner was beautifully placed across goal.
A quiet game for Laurent, which is never a bad thing for a centre-back. However, he should have reacted faster to Cameron’s goal to perhaps get a block in. Did well overall.
Kieran was steady at the back, and did well to get forward to help Wilshere throughout the first half. Needs to lay off shooting though – it really is not his forte.
What a signing. Mathieu shouted at and organized his team mates all game, broke up play, made interceptions and won tackles. He is precisely what you need against a team like Stoke.
Not playing in a familiar role, but Jack did well. He brought the ball inside often, linked well with Giroud, and generally played a good role in Arsenal’s offensive play. Needs to add goals and assists though.
Ozil: [8.5/10] – MOTM
Many thought the pressure of a home debut might get to Mesut, but they were evidently wrong. Arsenal scored via three set pieces, each being taken by Ozil, which resulted in three assists. Off the ball he looked good also, finding space and showing great touches. But essentially, he truly is the King of the Assist.
Aaron is on fire, and got himself another goal by being in the right place at the right time. His passing was a little off at times, but he generally did well to keep the ball moving, and also did a good job defensively.
When I heard that Serge was replacing Theo due to illness, I thought the worst. Stoke is no easy fixture, but Gnabry got stuck in, made good passes, good runs and also had the confidence to shoot. A great full debut for him.
No goals today, but the performance was certainly there. Olivier showed some exceptional touched, won headers, linked up with team mates,and caused trouble for Stoke all afternoon. Unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions.
Miyaichi : [6.5/10]
Ryo looked a little nervous, but got himself into some good positions late on, and could have grabbed a goal if Giroud had passed to him. Promising.
Monreal: [N/A], Arteta [N/A]
[title]Stoke Stuffed With Set Pieces[/title]
Usually, Stoke pip us with a set piece or two, but today, we finally turned the tables in our favour.
Ramsey, Mertesacker and Sagna all benefitted from some fantastic set piece delivery, by none other than Mesut Ozil. It still feels surreal that we have him, but the German-Turk really is here, and he really did just get three assists in one game.
Stoke battled hard as you’d expect, but Flamini saw us through with a bit of steel at the back. Together, the team is starting to look a real force,in ways which we haven’t seen in years. The best part is, we still have a plethora of injured players waiting to return.
Still, lets not get ahead of ourselves. Next up, West Brom away.
What do you think of the Arsenal vs Stoke match? Share your views in the comments section below!