Gunners back in their Stride
Written By: Robert Halter
Mesut Ozil was set for his home debut in a Gunners shirt against the Potters with Arsenal looking to build on their three wins in the Premiership having secured a 3-1 away victory at both Fulham and Sunderland and sandwiched in between was a 1-0 result to the Arsenal against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium while Stoke City had started their new campaign under manager Mark Hughes in a respectable seventh position, five places lower than the Gunners in the table. On five minutes, a foul by Charlie Adam on Jack Wilshere set up a free kick opportunity for Ozil, whose low drive could only be palmed away from Stoke’s keeper Asmir Begovic into the path of Aaron Ramsey, who tucked the ball away. But Stoke were back on level terms in the twenty sixth minute when Steven N’Zonzi floated the ball over and on the half volley, Marko Arnautovic’s effort cannoned off the bottom of the left post but Geoff Cameron was at hand to convert the follow up and roll the ball into the net. However, the Gunners restored their lead on thirty six minutes when Ozil’s corner on the right side was met by a perfectly placed header from captain for the day, Per Mertesacker, as the ball rose past Laurent Koscielny and Begovic’s despairing dive into the left side of the goal. A magnificent save by Begovic from a fierce strike by Olivier Giroud, kept Stoke in the game momentarily during the other side of half time, as referee Mike Dean played the advantage when Serge Gnarby clattered into Robert Huth during the build up play. In the first change the Potters brought on Stephen Ireland for Adam. On sixty three minutes, a mistake by Huth was capitalised upon by Wilshere but when Ozil picked up the loose ball, he drove his shot into Begovic but Stoke responded immediately and went on the attack as a soaring effort from Marc Wilson produced an athletic save by Wojciech Szczesny to turn the ball behind. Another Stoke change saw Wilson Palacios take over from Erik Pieters. Then from the most unlikeliest of sources, Arsenal got their third as Bacary Sagna’s looping header put the Gunners in the driving seat from Ozil’s free kick on seventy two minutes after Wilshere had been shoulder barged either side by Jonathan Walters and Cameron. It was time for an Arsenal change as Nacho Monreal replaced Wilshere and Ryo Miyaichi took over from Gnarby. In the final Potters switch Jermaine Pennant appeared at his former club to replace Kenywyne Jones and in a cameo appearance, Mikel Arteta played a brief role with ten minutes remaining as Ozil made way for Arteta’s return to full fitness. At the end, Ramsey blasted a shot at Begovic, who parried the ball over, after Giroud had created the opening, as Arsenal went back to the top of the table.