Arsenal Thrash Stoke 4-1 To Close In On Top Four
Arsenal have moved to within one point of the top four following their 4-1 win over Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday.
Goals from Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil appeared to have put the Gunners on their way to a comfortable victory in a fixture which has developed into a fierce rivalry in recent years, but Peter Crouch pulled one back in controversial fashion to put the pressure on Arsene Wenger’s side.
However, an Alexis Sanchez strike restored the two-goal lead before Giroud capped off the scoring with his second of the evening to wrap up a crucial three points for the visitors.
The Gunners were winless in their previous six visits to Stoke prior to today’s match, but they quickly settled into the game and it took a fine stop from Jack Butland to keep the scores level after nine minutes when he clawed Shkodran Mustafi’s looping header over the crossbar.
Arsenal would have been surprised by how easy the opening exchanges were against a team who they have traditionally struggled against, but the visitors failed to turn their dominance into goals and Nacho Monreal’s first touch let him down when well placed in the box shortly afterwards.
Monreal’s runs down the left channel were a recurring problem for Stoke, though, and the Spaniard should have broken the deadlock after 17 minutes when he hit the upright with a header after Ryan Shawcross had inadvertently flicked the ball towards the back post.
It took until just before the half-hour mark for Stoke to have their first attempt after Mustafi brought Xherdan Shaqiri down with a reckless challenge outside the area, but Marko Arnautovic could only curl his free kick over the crossbar from 25 yards.
Despite Arsenal’s dominance, it wasn’t until the 34th minute that any of their attacking players had a shot on goal, with Sanchez pouncing on a loose ball following a mistake from Glen Johnson only to see his subsequent low strike ripple the side-netting on its way behind.