Arsenal went top of the Premier League with a handsome 3-1 win against Stoke City at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
New-signing Mesut Ozil lived up to his billing by supplying all three goals. His free-kick was spilled by Asmir Begovic for Aaron Ramsey to make it 1-0 after five minutes.
After Geoff Cameron had equalised, the German fired in the balls from which Per Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna headed home.
By the end, the Arsenal fans had begun the “olés” every time a home player touched the ball.
In fairness, Stoke were better than that and Wenger’s men were under significant pressure in patches.
However Arsenal keep coming through those periods and then find the net themselves. That is not luck.
Neither is seven straight wins. Nor being top of the Premier League.
Arsenal were decent before Ozil came, but now they are significantly better.
This was more than a regulation fixture for the Emirates faithful. There was already excitement in the air as the record-signing was going to play in front of a home crowd for the first time.
In addition, it was #Islington100 Day. The Club were celebrating a century in the borough and, to commemorate the event, the matchday programme came with a free re-print of one that had accompanied the fixture with Leicester Fosse on September 6, 1913.
Before kick-off, Wenger named an unchanged line-up. Theo Walcott warmed up but was scratched off the starting XI after picking up a minor pelvic/abdominal problem. Serge Gnabry stepped up from the bench and Ryo joined the substitutes.
Arsenal were ahead within five minutes. Ozil’s free-kick was pushed out by Begovic to Ramsey, who slotted home his seventh goal of the season.
It was the 13th straight game in which Arsenal had taken the lead. But, this time, they did not kick-on.
Stoke did not exactly pour on pressure but their drip-drip-drip approach brought a result.
In the 26th minute, Stephen Nzonzi clipped a clever ball to the far post. Marko Arnautovic sidefooted a volley against the upright and Cameron returned the rebound into the net from the edge of the area.
It was the American’s first goal in English football and a wake-up call for Arsenal.
As if sharply dug in the ribs, they responded. Jack Wilshere waltzed through but his shot was blocked.
Then, in the 32nd minute, Ozil floated a corner on to head of Mertesacker but his goalbound header was cleared off the line.
Stoke did not learn their lesson as, four minutes later, Arsenal did the same thing and this time found the net.
Ozil’s corner was nodded towards the far post but Mertesacker. Laurent Koscielny jumped at the ball but missed it. That may have been a factor in Begovic failing to claim and it finding the far corner.
At half-time, Arsenal had done enough to deserve their lead but the points were far from secure.
They went about acquiring a lock and key early in the second half. Olivier Giroud’s piledriver was tipped over by Begovic and then the Frenchman fired wide.
On the hour Ozil popped up on the right of the area but his low shot was saved.
But despite Arsenal’s superiority, Stoke were seriously searching for an equaliser.
Marc Wilson forced Wojciech Szczesny to palm the ball aside and then Mathieu Flamini cut out Cameron’s dangerous low cross.
At this point, the statistics said that Stoke were enjoying almost 70 per cent possession in the second half. They were hardly pinning back Arsenal but they were asking tricky questions of the Arsenal defence.
So Sagna’s goal was very welcome. Once again the supplier was Ozil. His left-wing free-kick was met with an arching header that dropped into the far corner of the net.
It was Sagna's first goal since that crucial header in the 5-2 comeback against Tottenham in February 2012.
Stoke struggled to muster much after that and Ramsey might have added another in injury time.
But, at the whistle, Arsenal had more than done enough.
Referee: Mike Dean
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