EPL 2016/17: Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City - 5 Talking Points
As far as away ties go, Stoke turned up at the Emirates with an intention to play some football. While that may not have been the running theme in the Pulis era, times and manager have changed since then with Mark Hughes now leading the Potters in the Premier League.
Given the animosity between Hughes and Wenger, one could have expected some urgency in the encounter between these two sides. Stoke started on the front foot with three corners and a half chance for Shaqiri. A long range-volley from Muniesa was also tipped over the bar by Petr Cech as Stoke looked for their first win at Arsenal’s home ground since 1981.
Also read: Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City - Player Ratings
Up stepped Xhaka with an elbow on Joe Allen and the referee pointed to the spot which led to Charlie Adam’s opener. The Gunners were quick to react as they knocked the ball around with purpose and patience to release Bellerin down the right. The Spaniard fired in a low cross and in the blink of an eye, Walcott equalised.
Arsenal were level and soon took the lead through an Ozil beauty. Stoke almost grabbed a foothold back into the game with Crouch’s first touch but Iwobi gave the scoreline a more emphatic tone with a well-taken finish.
Here are the talking points from the game:
#1 Ozil’s ghosting run leaves Stoke City haunted
The goal when it came was a combination of beauty and magic. A deft finish by the most gentle person on the football pitch on the evening was a moment of high-quality football at its best.
Ozil had been making some deft movements since the start of the game. Chamberlain noticed the German on the move and floated a pass over the Stoke defence. Erik Pieters, the man who was supposed to mark the German, lost him for a moment and could only watch helplessly as Ozil planted a delicate header to give Arsenal the lead.
The 28-year-old has led from the front this season and was a calming presence even when things threatened to boil over on Saturday. Other than his attacking talents the Gunners need Ozil’s leadership if they are to ensure a title challenge this season.