Arsenal: Cech, Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Coquelin, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Alexis
Subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Bellerin, Elneny, Iwobi, Lucas, Giroud
Arsenal moved to the top of the Premier League after a 3-1 win over Stoke at the Emirates this afternoon.
Arsene Wenger made a number of changes from that beat Basel 4-1 in midweek, recalling Petr Cech, Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott to the starting XI.
The visitors had the first real attempt when Muniesa volleyed a cleared corner back towards goal, but Cech was on hand to tip the ball over. There was danger too from Shaqiri who found himself free on the penalty spot, but took a heavy touch and found himself crowded out.
Good work between Ozil and Alexis saw a Walcott shot blocked, and the England man forced a good save from the keeper after Mustafi provided him a chance which he took from a tight angle.
Joe Allen was wasteful in the 23rd minute, shooting wide when Arnautovic set him up well, before Arsenal were forced into an early change a minute later. Mustafi picked up a hamstring strain and was replaced by the returning Hector Bellerin.
If that was a blow, so too was the concession of a penalty in the 27th minute. Xhaka and Allen contested a ball in the box, the Arsenal man caught his opponent with an elbow that looked completely accidental but referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot because he’s a big useless twat.
After Allen had had some minutes of treatment, Charlie Adam stepped up to score and make it 0-1.
Arsenal looked to respond, and a low Bellerin shot almost deflected to Ozil for a tap-in, but Diouf made a brilliant intervention to poke the ball over the bar before the German could equalise.
Arnautovic found space in the box but a brilliant block from Monreal denied Stoke a second goal, and its importance was made obvious when we equalised just a minute later.
Arsenal worked it really well from midfield, Alexis sent Bellerin free down the right, his low cross to the near post was poked home superbly by Theo Walcott who got his 10th goal of the season. 1-1.
It seemed to bring some life back into Arsenal’s play, with Alexis shooting over, and Bellerin creating a good chance for Oxlade-Chamberlain which he couldn’t keep down. It meant the teams went in level at the break.
There were no changes as the second half began, and Arsenal showed some early intent setting Bellerin free down the right, but lashed a shot over when he should have crossed.
After an injury stoppage for a Stoke player, the Gunners went ahead, taking advantage of some defensive disorganisation from the visitors. Oxlade-Chamberlain lofted in a cross behind the Stoke defence, Ozil ran from deep, got there and looped a header over the keeper to make it 2-1.
Xhaka dragged a shot wide as we looked to extend the lead, Oxlade-Chamberlain worked a shooting position well but saw the keeper equal to it, and great play from Alexis helped keep Arsenal’s momentum going.
At the other end Diouf headed well wide when he really should have tested Cech, before Arsene Wenger made his second change of the day, bringing on Alex Iwobi for Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Stoke sent on Peter Crouch for Diouf in the 73rd minute and he almost had an immediate impact, heading on target from a corner, but Cech made a good save low down on his line.
Once more, Arsenal punished them almost straight away, as Iwobi extend the lead. He played a one-two with Alexis, the Chilean was tripped on the edge of the box but the referee – to his credit for once, the lumpy wombat-headed cockblister – waved play on, Iwobi took it into the box and curled a low shot beyond the keeper to make it 3-1.
Stoke took off Charlie Adam, presumably because with him and Shaqiri on the pitch they were well over Premier League weight regulations. Arsenal brought on Giroud for Alexis, before Shaqiri then got taken off himself, making Lee Mason the fattest man on the pitch.
Walcott saw a shot well saved by the Stoke keeper, but Arsenal were in complete control once the two goal lead was established. Stoke offered little, and the Gunners win means they go top of the table ahead of Chelsea’s game against West Brom tomorrow.