Aaah. Three wins on the bounce. I’ve forgotten what that feels like. Also, a first win a Stoke in seven years! That’s a bonus!
Goals from Olivier Giroud, plus one each from Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil set Arsenal on their way to ending a run of six winless away runs at Stoke City, and move to within one point of Liverpool.
The first half saw Arsenal dominate possession as they had chances, but couldn’t finish off.
The first chance of goal went to Sanchez, after a cross from Shkodran Mustafi, but he couldn’t finish it off. Had he done so, his effort would’ve been chalked off, as he was offside anyway.
Mustafi had the next chance, being gifted by a corner from Mesut Ozil, but his effort was palmed away by Jack Butland who did well to prevent Arsenal from scoring a first.
Nacho Monreal got into his first scoring position of the game as he spurned an opportunity to put his side in the lead, following a cross. He was soon offered another chance to score, but his effort hit the post. I thought he was unfortunate not to score there.
Mustafi was the first to go in the book for a foul on Xherdan Shaquiri. Marko Arnautovic took the resulting freekick and blazed his effort over.
So far, things were going according to plan for Arsene Wenger’s side, as Arsenal were keeping their cool, and not making rash decisions.
Joe Allen had a sight of goal, but he was stopped in his tracks by Laurent Koscielny who did well to clear the ball away from danger.
At the other end, Sanchez tried his luck at goal, but could only find the side netting. At this point, I thought that Hughes’ side were going to take the lead with the amount of chances the away side had. You know that saying “if you don’t take chances”, that.
Wenger’s side eventually scored three minutes from the end of the first half. A good ball from Hector Bellerin to Giroud opened the proceedings. That half reminded me of our last two games. We play it cool, but don’t lose our heads when we don’t take chances.
With 10 minutes gone, Ozil extended the lead following up from a sublime assist from Sanchez. The Sanchez-Ozil link-up was just perfect. I could go on, but it would amass pages!
The home side had a glorious opportunity to get one back when Arnautovic short-crossed to Mame Diouf, but he somehow made a right mess of that one!
Petr Cech sprung into action as he made an important save from a Bruno Martins Indi header. Thanks for that! We didn’t want to give Stoke City any sort of incentive!
Peter Crouch did get his side back into the game though, but did he score with his arm? From first look, it looks like a normal goal, but when you look at the replay, it tells another story. Head? Arm? Crouch didn’t care! Watching this back, It didn’t seem like handball to me, but I’ll leave this up for debate.
That incident didn’t faze Arsenal, however, Sanchez extended his sides’ lead with his 50th career goal for the club.
A very comfortable 4-1 win is how it ended as Arsenal strengthened their hopes for a top four spot.
Thoughts on the game
Going into this game, I knew how important it was to gain maximum points, and knowing Liverpool play West Ham the following day, a win was vital! Thankfully we got the win and ended a horrible sequence of winless runs at Stoke City.
It’s difficult to pick a Man of the Match here as I though each and every man played their part.
Next for Arsenal is a home game against already relegated Sunderland, whilst for Mark Hughes side, they hope to put an end to a sequence of four winless runs when they play Southampton away.
I’m starting to believe that we can finish in the top four, but I still have doubts due to how Liverpool may respond when they play West Ham. Let’s see how that goes.
As I finish this off, Liverpool have just beaten West Ham, so it seems we may play in the Europa League next season. But hey, what’s the worst that can happen?
Featured Image Credit: ctwino