Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City Analysis: Gunners come from behind to claim three points at the Emirates Stadium

Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City Analysis: Gunners come from behind to claim three points at the Emirates Stadium

Arsenal overcame an injury to defender Shkodran Mustafi and a controversial penalty to defeat a confident Stoke City side.

TJWedderburn
TJ Wedderburn

Pundits and football fans alike have suggested that there is a certain solidarity about Arsenal that hasn't been present in previous seasons. When you consider the circumstances in which Arsenal won this game, it's hard to argue against this notion. 

After a timid opening 20 minutes from the home side, Arsenal suffered a double-whammy, as Granit Xhaka caught Joe Allen with an elbow which prompted referee Lee Mason to award Stoke a penalty kick- which Charlie Adam duly converted. 

Before conceding the penalty, Arsenal had lost Shkodran Mustafi to a hamstring injury, a key player for the Gunners who remain unbeaten in the league since their opening day defeat at home to Liverpool

Welcome back Bellerin

Mustafi's replacement was the returning Hector Bellerin, who himself had been absent with an ankle injury. Bellerin returned to right back, whilst his stand-in Gabriel moved back to his preffered position of centre back. It was the introduction of Bellerin which sparked Arsenal's revival.

After some tidy one touch football and close control, man of the moment Alexis Sanchez slid in Bellerin, who picked out Walcott at the near post and the Englishman fired beyond Lee Grant to bring his side level. Notching his 10th goal of the season in the processs. 

From here on it was one way traffic, Bellerin's marauding runs forward proved difficult for Stoke's backline to cope with, he continued to tease and torment down the right and also chipped in with some timely interceptions when called upon in defence.

Magic Mesut

Arsenal started the second half very much in the same way they ended the first, putting Mark Hughes' side on the back foot, asking questions of Stoke's defence. 

In the 49th minute Arsenal got their reward, a clever run from Mesut Ozil allowed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to float in a fantastic ball over the top, from which Ozil scored an absolute peach of a header. A quite remarkable finish from a player who is more known for his eye for a pass rather than his heading ability. 

Ozil is now up to nine goals for the season, more than the eight he managed in the entirety of his last campaign. Although the assists aren't flowing as frequently, Ozil is definitely making more of an impact and his partnership with Alexis has Arsenal fans dreaming of a Premier League title. 

Super-sub Iwobi puts the game to bed

The cliche regarding London buses seems very apt when describing the goalscoring form of Alex Iwobi. Having not scored all season, he now has two in quick succession. Fresh from scoring mid-week against Basel, the Nigerian international notched his second of the season after coming off the bench to score Arsenal's third of the day.

Good footwork from Sanchez saw him brought down by Giannelli Imbula, the referee played advantage after Iwobi latched onto the loose ball, he then found himself one on one with Grant and made no mistake, sidefooting the ball home into the far corner. 

Iwobi's clinical finish wrapped up a good days work, another positive attacking performance saw Arsenal go top of the league by virtue of goal difference. 

Style and steel

Arsene Wenger has described several Arsenal performances this season as a combination of 'style' and 'steel'. The north London club once again proved true to point, after overcoming a difficult start, the Gunners were able to claim a comfortable three points.

Arsenal's depth will be tested over the coming weeks, as Mustafi joined the likes of Danny Welbeck, Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker on the sidelines.If Arsenal are to assert themselves as genuine title contenders, they will need to successfully negotiate a tricky set of upcoming fixtures despite their absentees. 

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