A lacklustre start and middle by Arsenal with a bang at the end, the inverse of Wenger’s Arsenal career, was the story of an often interminable afternoon at the Emirates as the Gunners defeated lowly Stoke City in a 3-0 victory at The Emirates.
Arsenal with one eye on the Europa League on Thursday were without Cech, Koscielny and Mkhitaryan, and the eleven who did start looked as if they would rather be at home on the sofa with an Easter egg and a brew.Embed from Getty Images
Stoke arrived with a lot more to play for, still mired in one of the most intriguing if seriously low on quality relegation battles for many a year, and the visitors made the sharper start as they looked for their first point at the Emirates. Arsenal couldn’t get any rhythm on their passing and Allen and Shaqiri made a good start for Stoke without fashioning a serious chance.
Arsenal went the closest to scoring though as Aaron Ramsey’s creative dink over Butland clipped the bar. Shaqiri also hit the woodwork from a corner that swung in so viciously it looked like it could end the career of three Australian batsmen. That Ramsey chance was the closest Arsenal came until the second half as Ozil finally woke up.
The German slid an unbelievable through ball to Aubameyang who took too long to decide which finish to use before prodding it against the onrushing Butland. Arsenal didn’t look like scoring until a dubious penalty decision turned the game on its head. With fifteen minutes remaining Ozil weaved his way into the box only to be stopped by a clean tackle by Martins Indi.Embed from Getty Images
However Craig Pawson adjudged it to be a penalty, further justifying FIFA’s decision not to take any English referees to the World Cup. Aubameyang stepped up despite missing his last spotkick against Man City and confidently sent Butland the wrong way.
Ten minutes later an Ozil corner fell to Aubameyang at the edge of the area and his lovely controlled drive fizzed past Butland.
There was still time for Ndiaye to push over Lacazette with a challenge of unbelievable stupidity. Surprisingly Aubameyang sacrificed the chance for a hat trick and allowed Lacazette to roll the penalty in the same fashion as Aubameyang to cap off a three nil win that was as flattering as it was irrelevant as Stoke die a slow inevitable death in the relegation battle and Arsenal play out time and wait for the least riotous moment to announce Wenger’s new contract.Embed from Getty Images
Man of the Match: Lacazette.
Ramsey and Mustafi deserve a mention but most of the game had a testimonial pace to it that was only slightly lifted when the French forward came on for the last half hour.
Arsenal 3 (Aubameyang 75, 86 Lacazette 89) Stoke 0
Arsenal 4321: Ospina; Bellerin, Holding, Mustafi, Monreal; Ramsey, Wilshere (Mkhitaryan 76) Elneny (Xhaka 76) Ozil, Welbeck (Lacazette 61); Aubameyang
Stoke 451: Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Bauer, Allen, Ndaiye, Sobhi (Crouch 80), Shaqiri; Diouf (Berahino 61)
Written by Gary Robinson.
32 from Manchester. Working in the business banking sector, lover of the game and all its weird narratives. Writer for 90MAAT. @ismyCAPplaying