Full Time: Stoke City 1-4 Arsenal
Arsenal strengthened their chances for a top-four finish in the Premier League when they trounced Mark Hughes’ Stoke City 4-1 at the Bet 365 Stadium on Saturday.
The Gunners took the lead through Olivier Giroud just a few minutes shy of the half-time, and German playmaker Mesut Ozil doubled their advantage ten minutes into the second period. The Potters threatened a comeback when Peter Crouch pulled one back in the 67th minute, but Alexis Sanchez restored the two-goal lead for Arsenal nine minutes later. Giroud then heaped further misery on the home team with a second against his name in the 80th minute.
The result sees Arsenal move within just a single point of fourth-placed Liverpool and if the Reds slip up, Arsene Wenger’s men stand a great opportunity to finish in the Champions League spots. Here is how the Arsenal players fared:
Arsenal Player Ratings
Petr Cech – 7/10
Alert to react when called upon. Not tested nearly enough though by Stoke. Had no chance to stop the goal.
Rob Holding – 7/10
One error aside, the summer arrival impressed again with another solid display. Looks at home at this level.
Shkodran Mustafi – 7/10
Went close to scoring with a headed effort. Solid and untroubled at the back, except for that rash challenge on Xherdan Shaqiri. Booked.
Laurent Koscielny – 7/10
Overcame an injury scare to start and the captain looked unruffled at the back. Was put under some pressure by Crouch, but coped well.
Hector Bellerin – 8/10
Returned to the starting XI in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and put in a marvelous display. Always a threat down the right-flank and contributed with a great assist for Giroud’s opener.
Francis Coquelin – 7.5/10
The Frenchman was included ahead of Aaron Ramsey and he did full justice to his selection with a fine performance. Won his tackles, got forward well and brought his teammates into play. Played a part in the build-up to Giroud’s goal as well. Impressive.
Granit Xhaka – 7.5/10
Continued his impressive form with another combative display in the middle of the park. Won the ball well, brilliant in possession.
Nacho Monreal – 7/10
Looks completely revitalized in recent weeks. Another strong performance down the left-flank as he offered a constant threat with his forward runs.
Alexis Sanchez – 9/10
Set Ozil up with a brilliant defence-splitting pass before scoring a good goal himself. Worked hard off the ball as well. Excellent.
Mesut Ozil – 8/10
Doubled Arsenal’s lead with a delightful finish in the second half. Played a stunning pass in the build up to Giroud’s second. An influential display and a one that is long overdue.
Olivier Giroud – 9/10
Bagged a double with goals on either side of the half-time. Worked extremely hard and helped his team out while defending set pieces. Gets overshadowed by his teammates but is a vital member.
Aaron Ramsey – 7/10
Replaced Sanchez right after his goal. Instant impact as he set Giroud up for the fourth.
Danny Welbeck – NA
Replaced Ozil with less than ten minutes left.
Theo Walcott – NA
Came on for Giroud in the 84th minute.