Arsenal kept their top-four hopes up and running with a solid 4-1 win at the Bet365 stadium against Stoke City. It was a professional display by a side that has largely struggled in their previous visits here. But that was not the case yesterday as the Gunners looked in cruise control from the first minute. They looked a class apart from the Potters and rewarded their travelling fans with four brilliant goals.
Olivier Giroud opened the scoring right before half-time after some good work on the right flank by Hector Bellerin. Mesut Ozil doubled Arsenal’s lead with a stunning goal. The visitors scored two more in a space of five minutes as Alexis Sanchez scored a brilliant corner finish and Giroud scored his second with a simple tap in. Stoke’s solitary goal came from veteran Peter Crouch who looked as if he had scored the goal with his hand. All in all, it was a comforting performance by the Gunners.
Let us take a look at how the players have been rated.
Petr Cech (6.5/10): He looked assured in handling the aerial threat of Stoke and could not do anything more in their goal in the second half.
Rob Holding (7/10): Made one silly error which might have caused serious problems but other than that it was a confident outing for the youngster.
Laurent Koscielny (5.5/10): Cleared the ball out of danger well but looked second best in every aerial duel against Crouch and co.
Shkodran Mustafi (7/10): The German defender is emerging as a serious threat in Arsenal’s set pieces. He defended in his usual capacity and was later booked.
Nacho Monreal (6/10): Solid as ever at the back but was terrible in front of the goal. The Spaniard had a golden chance to get his team on the scoresheet.
Hector Bellerin (8.5/10): One of the best displays this season for the full back. He was brilliant going forward and showed what he can do on his best days.
Francis Coquelin (7/10): He made the play tick for Arsenal as it was Coquelin who dictated the temp for the Gunners.
Granit Xhaka (7.5/10): Had a hand in many interceptions and also passed the ball with conviction. He also did not have to do much against a troubled Stoke midfield.
Mesut Ozil (9/10): Showed his mettle in a tough away fixture as he produced his usual touch of genius to make some brilliant chances and also scored a superb goal.
Alexis Sanchez (9/10): He gave an answer to all the people who were saying that his performance levels had dropped in recent months. Sanchez scored yet another fine goal and was yet again Arsenal’s main attacking threat.
Olivier Giroud (9/10): Has been criticised a lot since the turn of the year but has always scored goals whenever provided with proper service. He scored two in a match to remember for the Frenchman.
Aaron Ramsey (6/10): Came on for Sanchez and created some half-chances for himself but could not get a proper connection.
Danny Welbeck (7/10): Replaced Giroud and ran well behind the defenders but was on the pitch for just 10 minutes which made it tough for the striker to muster a chance.
Theo Walcott (5.5/10): Did not get involved much in the proceedings and did hardly anything worth mentioning.