Post-Match Report

Stoke City 3-2 Arsenal - Report

Stoke City -

bet365 Stadium
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
  Stoke City
      
              Peter Crouch (1)
               Bojan (35)
               Jonathan Walters (45)
          
   crest
Stoke City
Peter Crouch (1) Bojan (35) Jonathan Walters (45)
3 2
  Arsenal
      
                  Cazorla (67 pen)
                   Ramsey (70)
            
   crest
Arsenal
Cazorla (67 pen)
Ramsey (70)

By Chris Harris at Britannia Stadium

SUMMARY

Arsenal's winning run came to an end on Saturday as a forgettable first half cost them three points at Stoke.

The Gunners made the worse possible start, conceding a goal to Peter Crouch after just 19 seconds.

The influential Bojan scored the second with a deft finish from Jon Walters' cross, and Walters himself lashed in the third just before the break.

The visitors roused themselves after half-time and should have reduced the arrears when Alexis Sanchez waltzed through to plant a shot against a post.

Santi Cazorla converted a penalty to give the Gunners a fighting chance, and a stunning volley from Aaron Ramsey took them to the brink of a remarkable comeback.

But a second yellow card for Calum Chambers checked Arsenal's progress and Stoke kept them at bay in a frantic finale.

The Gunners had restored pride but, ultimately, their failure to handle Stoke's front men cost them dearly.

SETTING THE SCENE

Arsenal's travails at the Britannia Stadium are well-documented - they went into this fixture with one win in eight visits. But the form book favoured the Gunners after three straight wins and three clean sheets in all competitions.

Two of those morale-boosting shut-outs were thanks in part to the return of Laurent Koscielny but his troublesome Achilles was not risked for a third game in a week, so Hector Bellerin was drafted in at right back with Chambers shuffling inside to partner Per Mertesacker.

There were two other changes: Danny Welbeck made way for Olivier Giroud and the injured Nacho Monreal was replaced by Kieran Gibbs, making his 100th Premier League appearance.

Young prospects Semi Ajayi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were among the substitutes and Wojciech Szczesny joined them on the bench with Emiliano Martinez retained in goal.

FIRST HALF

Arsenal made a terrible start.

Crouch's first header of the match found Steven Nzonzi on the right and his cross caused consternation in the Gunners box. Chambers missed his header, Bellerin went to ground, Martinez was caught off balance and the ball fell kindly for Crouch, who rolled it into the net. A mere 19 seconds were on the clock.

The visitors were shocked but they regrouped quickly and started to find some rhythm. Alexis looked their most likely source of inspiration in what appeared to be a free role behind Giroud.

Two promising moves lacked a decent final ball but Arsenal did find one after 11 minutes - and should have scored. Bellerin was at full stretch to stand up a cross to the far post and Giroud headed wide with the goal gaping.

Crouch was a constant menace at the other end and he had the perfect supply line - Bojan. The former Barcelona playmaker, drifting left and right to find space, curled in one cross that Crouch directed just wide.

Martinez spilled a speculative effort from Phil Bardsley and Cazorla arrowed a shot just over the bar in what was an open encounter - and far less attritional than the usual meetings between these sides.

Both defences looked vulnerable but it was Stoke who had a cutting edge and they doubled their lead 10 minutes before half-time. This time Walters found room for a cross on the right and Bojan darted between defenders to apply a cultured finish.

Giroud's deflected header forced Asmir Begovic to tip over but things went from bad to worse for Arsenal just before the break. Crouch was first to another corner, his header down deflected to Walters and he belted a shot into the roof of the net.

SECOND HALF

Wenger replaced Bellerin with Welbeck at half-time with Flamini going to right back and Oxlade-Chamberlain moving inside to partner Ramsey in central midfield.

It worked. Suddenly Stoke's back four had much more to think about and Arsenal so nearly clawed a goal back after 57 minutes when Alexis waltzed past Ryan Shawcross and Begovic only to shoot against the post from a narrow angle.

The game seemed to be up for the Gunners when Bojan beat Martinez with a low shot, but the goal was ruled out for an offside against Diouf, who was obstructing the Arsenal keeper's view.

It proved to be a turning point. In the 67th minute Flamini burst into the box and was impeded by Diouf; Cazorla stroked home the penalty low to Begovic's right.

The comeback was on and Arsenal found a second three minutes later, Ramsey demonstrating perfect technique to volley Alexis' corner past Begovic.

Stoke were nervous and the omens were good for the Gunners - no Premier League side has scored more goals in the last five minutes this season.

But with 11 minutes to go their task became more onerous when Chambers received a second yellow card - harshly - for a foul on Bojan.

Arsenal persevered, throwing everything forward in a desperate attempt to find an equaliser. But Stoke rode out the storm.

Referee: Anthony Taylor
Attendance: 27367