Arsenal 3-1 Stoke: Ozil triple threat as Gunners set-pieces sink Stoke (video)
Mesut Ozil continued to shine for his new London club, grabbing all three assists on set-pieces as Arsenal thumped Stoke City at the Emirates 3-1 on Sunday.
The win is their seventh straight in all competitions, as all of a sudden the Gunners are now top of the table in the Barclays Premier League.
Arsenal pressed early, and Stoke did all they could not to break. The early defensive effort was not enough for the visitors though. Mesut Ozil crashed a free kick on goal which Asmir Begovic parried, but only in the path of Ramsey who touched home for the opener in under five minutes.
Jack Wilshire proved a physical presence in the midfield early on for Arsenal, although some of his challenges were less than advisable. Stoke slowly played themselves into the game, gaining a bit more of possession around the 20th minute mark.
It was the counter that earned Stoke their equalizer. An absolutely beautiful lofted ball from Steve Nzonzi up to Marouane Chamakh saw the Belgian clatter the left post of Szczesny’s goal, but American Geoff Cameron was there for the rebound, which he put on the opposite end of the net and no chance for the Polish keeper.
With Theo Walcott proving unfit just before the match for the Gunners, 18-year-old Serge Gnabry got his first Premier League start. The youngster was heavily involved, with Arsene Wenger choosing to build mostly from the right flank with Ramsey and Gnabry combining well.
Arsenal continued to be dangerous on set-pieces, coming close on a number of corners and free-kicks. That was exactly where they reestablished their lead from, as Ozil delivered a great corner in the 35th minute and Per Mertesacker - always a threat on those plays - headed home from long range. Laurent Koscienly actually had a chance to redirect the header to be sure it goes in. He missed, but the ball went past Begovic anyways.
The first chance of the second half fell to Arsenal, as Olivier Giroud almost scored his fifth goal of the young season. Gnabry did well to pick off a pass in the attacking half and lay off the ball to Giroud who took the 2-on-1 situation himself, firing a laser beam at the top right corner which Begovic did very well to save full-stretch.
The third Arsenal goal came again on a free kick in the 73rd minute, as Ozil delivered a long ball over the pack of players in the box to Bacary Sagna on the far side, who looped his header over Begovic into the far corner. It was a lovely header from the defender, not someone you’d normally back to score like you would a more aerial threat such as Mertesacker.
Stoke have had a decent start under Mark Hughes and didn’t look totally hapless, but in the end were outclassed by a team clicking on all cylinders. Hughes’ side remains on 7 points hovering around mid-table.
Arsenal - Ramsey 5', Mertesacker 36', Sagna 72'
Stoke - Cameron 26'
Arsenal - Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielney, Gibbs; Flamini, Ramsey; Wilshire, Ozil (Arteta, 80'), Gnabry; Giroud.
Stoke - Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters (Palacios, 67'); Walters, Wilson, Nzonzi, Adam (Ireland, 59'), Arnautovic; Jones (Pennant, 75').