Arsenal were far and away the better team at the Emirates today, as the Gunners avenged a 3-2 defeat at the Britannia with a 3-0 one of their own here at home against a woeful Stoke City side that had nothing in the bag to stop the fluid Arsenal buildup.
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The home side went coast-to-coast as Laurent Koscielny scored inside six minutes while Alexis Sanchez continued to storm the Premier League with a pair of his own. The Stoke defense had nothing working, and the Gunners forced them into a whopping 48 tackles, completing just 26 of them.
The first chance fell to Sanchez just ticks into the game as Arsenal looked up for one or two good passing buildups early on. The former Barcelona attacker produced a low curling drive on two minutes before Stoke even had a sniff of the ball.
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Asmir Begovic was on top of that one, and he was needed again minutes later as Tomas Rosicky exploded through the box for a shot parried away. The ensuing corner, though, would produce the deserved opener for Arsenal on six minutes.
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The corner came in from Sanchez, and while it didn’t make it through the box, it came back out to the Chilean, laid off by Koscielny. The French defender then drifted back into the danger area unmarked, and Sanchez found him with a lofted cross for a free header and Koscielny buried it.
It wasn’t all roses and rainbows for Arsenal early, as they lost Mathieu Debuchy to what appeared a nasty spill thanks to an extra shove from Marko Arnautovic that sent the Frenchman tumbling into the advertising boards. He was replaced by Hector Bellerin after 13 minutes while the medical staff continued to tend to Debuchy on the touchline. Arnautovic was not punished by the referee but may get a look or two from the FA following the match. Eventually Debuchy was stretchered off holding his shoulder.
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continued the positive start for the Gunners when he lashed a shot inches wide just moments after the substitution. Begovic was called into action yet again as Olivier Giroud forced a great save, and the striker missed the target on a break moments later as Arsenal looked to pour it on.
Things started to get chippy, with Sanchez at the forefront of the testing, but he would back up his words with another goal. He got a one-two from Rosicky on the left wing, and he cut into the box, wrong-footed Ryan Shawcross, and tucked a shot inside the near post.
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The Gunners wasted no time after the halftime break, needing just four minutes to put this game away. A free-kick on the edge of the box earned by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was touched in by Sanchez, off the fingertips of a diving Begovic and trickled into the back of the net.
That wrapped things up, as Arsene Wenger brought on both Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil for their returns from long-term injuries, completing a totally successful day, Debuchy injury aside. Walcott had a big chance to return in a big way, but the rust got in the way as he was free on goal but struck way wide. Ozil had a similar chance end in similar fashion with four minutes to go.
Arsenal deservedly picked up all three points, pushing them up past rivals Tottenham up into fifth, level on points with Southampton. Stoke remain down in 11th, seven points above the drop and still just a point off Newcastle in 10th.
Arsenal: Ospina; Debuchy (Bellerin 13′), Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Walcott 68′), Rosicky; Cazorla, Alexis, Giroud (Ozil 73′).
Goals: Koscielny 6′, Sanchez 33′, 49′
Stoke City: Begovic; Cameron, Wollscheid, Shawcross, Pieters (Muniesa 46′); Nzonzi (Sidwell 46′), Whelan; Arnautovic, Bojan (Ireland 73′), Walters; Crouch.