Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Monreal, Elneny, Ramsey, Wilshere, Welbeck, Ozil, Aubameyang
Subs: Macey, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette
Arsenal scored three times late in the second half to pull off a much needed 3-0 win against Stoke at the Emirates today.
Arsene Wenger picked a side with half an eye on the Europa League, and without Petr Cech who was absent with a groin problem.
The game started in scrappy fashion with both sides giving the ball away a lot, and it was the visitors who had the first chance, Shaqiri curling a 4th minute shot just beyond the top corner with Ospina rooted to the spot.
Arsenal barely looked bothered, Mustafi gave the ball away needlessly three or four times and in general it looked like a bunch of Sunday league cloggers struggling to cope with a hangover.
Nice work from Aaron Ramsey saw him feed Bellerin whose low cross looped up in the air, and the Welshman was there first but saw his effort land on the roof of the net.
Ramsey had a shot deflected over after being set up by Wilshere, Mustafi headed tamely into the arms of Butland, and Bellerin’s optimistic volley from an Aubameyang flick sailed well over the bar.
Elneny picked up a 38th minute yellow card for a foul on Joe Allen, and that was about that before the half-time whistle blew to a crescendo of boos from a home crowd that could not have made their frustration any more clear.
There were no changes from either side at the break, and it was more of the same with Arsenal struggling to make any impact or create any real danger. Ramsey created a chance for Welbeck but the England international shot wide, and after Ozil played in Bellerin down the right Elneny saw his attempt well blocked before Monreal forced Butland into a save at his near post.
Arsene Wenger made his first change in the 61st minute, bringing on Alexandre Lacazette for Welbeck while Stoke brought on Berahino for Diouf. Shaqiri shot straight at Ospina, and the Swiss international almost broke the deadlock directly from a corner as his set-piece hit the post.
Aubameyang had the chance of the game moments later when he was clean through on goal, but Butland stood up and made the save. Lacazette shot from close range for a corner, from which the ball came to Chambers just yards out but he could only knock the ball into the keeper’s arms.
Frustration was growing, but when Ozil was fouled in the box, Arsenal had a chance to go ahead from the penalty spot, and Aubameyang stepped up to make it 1-0.
Mkhitaryan and Xhaka then came on for Wilshere and Elneny, while the visitors sent on perpetual annoyance Peter Crouch. Butland saved from Ramsey, Mkhitaryan had a pop and up the other end some Stoke gimp curled a shot wide from a decent position.
Mkhitaryan and Ozil again tested Butland, the latter’s shot going out for a corner and from there the lead was doubled. The corner came in, it was flicked on and Aubameyang drilled a shot into the bottom corner. 2-0.
Stoke’s fat heads were gone, and Arsenal were awarded another penalty when Lacazette was fouled, and the French striker was the taker this time, putting it into the same corner as Aubameyang to make it 3-0.
“You’re going down!” sang the Arsenal fans as Stoke lost their heads, and as poor as the game was, it was fun to see that happen and to put another nail in their Premier League coffin.
In the end, we did what we had to, and if it was unconvincing it was enjoyable because of how it will upset them.