Arsenal 3-1 Stoke: Three things we learnt
Arsenal climbed to the summit of the Premier League, for twenty-four hours at least, as they came from a goal down to ease past Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium.
The Potters had taken the lead from the penalty spot via Charlie Adam after Granit Xhaka had fouled Joe Allen thirty minutes in. The visitors had travelled to North London with a positive mentality and the goal was a deserved reward for their attacking play in the open stages in which they matched their illustrious hosts. However, the it appeared to spark Arsenal into life and after Theo Walcott had provided an equaliser with the first half coming to a close it always looked as if the home side would go on to secure victory. Mezut Ozil provided The Gunners with the lead just after the interval before substitute Alex Iwobi climbed off the bench to end any hopes that the raucous travelling supporters may have had of their team making a comeback.
The result means that Arsenal leapfrog Chelsea at the top of the table, although Antonio Conte’s side will have an opportunity to retain their place at the summit when they host West Brom on Sunday afternoon, and will give Arsene Wenger real hope that his side can push on and make a genuine title challenge. Meanwhile, Mark Hughes will have been relatively content with his team’s performance, but defeat extends Stoke’s losing streak at the Emirates Stadium to nine matches.
Bellerin stars and Walcott reaches 100
Spanish full-back hector Bellerin was handed a place on the bench for the first time in two months with the young defender continuing to recover from injury. Arsene Wenger elected to start Gabriel at right-back but was forced into a defensive re-shuffle when Shkodran Mustafi limped off with just twenty-five minutes of the game gone. Bellerin was the designated replacement, slotting in at on the right side of The Gunners defence, and the Spaniard added an extra dimension, pace and drive to The Gunners attack. It was from his cross that Theo Walcott was able to grab an equalising goal and the full-back constantly tormented for his opposite number Eric Pieters.
Also, a special mention should be reserved for Walcott. His neat finish in the closing stages of the first half not only provided the home side with an injection of confidence and momentum which carried on into the second period, but was also his 100th goal in professional football. The England international may not have consistently reached the high standards of performance that his pace and quality should allow him to during his time in North London, nonetheless, he has certainly played a key role in helping The Gunners clamber to the top of the table. The 27-year-old has netted ten goals in twenty-two appearances so far this season.
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