Arsenal 3-0 Stoke City

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Press conference

Wenger - Why we improved in the second half

Arsene Wenger was a happy man on Sunday evening - but for much of the first half against Stoke he cut a more frustrated figure.

We improved markedly after the interval, but why? This is what the Arsenal manager told the media:

on the game…
First of all, Stoke played well. Secondly, we didn’t play well in the first half at all. We lacked urgency, pace, drive. In the second half, we rectified that. As much as I felt that in the first half we could lose this game, in the second half I always felt we would win this game. That’s the difference in attitude of the team. Overall that explains why it was 0-0 at half-time and 3-0 after the game.

on if the first penalty was a penalty…
From outside, it looked a penalty. I will look at it again, I promise you. But I don’t think that Ozil dived.

on Lacazette’s impact…
Not only Lacazette, I think the urgency, the pace of the team was different. We lacked cohesion in the first half. It was hit and go, really slow. In the second half, our pace was much better.

on whether Welbeck was injured…
Welbeck had a back problem, yes.

on the attendance…
They will be back on Thursday, don’t worry. It’s explainable by the fact that it’s Easter. It’s a family happening where people go away and it’s a fact that we don’t think about a lot in the Premier League. There’s also the fact that we had a break. In the Premier League, in the last two or three weeks, we’ve faced that problem. It’s just down to the fact that we’re not fighting for the championship. People know that will not change now.

on whether the lower attendances will affect the Premier League’s product…
No, at home we’ve had quite a strong season. Maybe we’ve been one of the strongest for a long time. I think that’s a combination of quality and number of goals scored. The quality of the games we’ve produced here, even the two games we lost at home - against Manchester City was just after the League Cup final and the 33 shots on goal we had against Manchester United - we put in outstanding performances. It’s away from home that we have lost our opportunities and the fans are disappointed by that.

on Petr Cech…
He’s better today. He will maybe go out for a little session now. I still think he will be short for Thursday.

on what Gareth Southgate meant by ‘cleaning up our own house’…
I always support people who fight against racism. Since I’ve been in England, English football has tackled the problem quite well. Is the battle over? Certainly not because there’s still room for improvement. I don’t think that people ignore the problem here.

Post-Match Report

Arsenal 3-0 Stoke City: How it happened

Arsenal celebrate against Stoke

WHAT HAPPENED

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice and the returning Alex Lacazette was also on target as we secured our fourth win on the bounce to beat Stoke City.

In truth, we were not at our very best but after upping the pressure in the second half we made the breakthrough when the Gabon striker held his nerve from the spot after Mesut Ozil had gone down in the area.
 
Aubameyang – who had now scored for his third match in succession – then pounced on a loose ball in the area to grab our second, before Alex Lacazette scored the third from the spot to wrap up an ultimately comfortable win.

Alexandre Lacazette celebrates against Stoke

How does it feel to be back, Laca?

During a low-key opening period, the visitors were the quickest to settle and posed an immediate threat as Xherdan Shaqiri curled a shot inches wide from the edge of the area.
 
Aaron Ramsey saw a shot graze the crossbar after a scramble in the area, before having a goalbound shot blocked by Eric Pieters a few minutes later.
 
They were the only real pockets of excitement in the first half,  but there was more bite to our game after the restart, with Ramsey's sharp pass setting up a chance for Welbeck, but the forward sent a half-volley just wide.
 
Suddenly the game came to life and Mohamed Elneny tried his luck after meeting Bellerin’s cutback but his shot was saved, before Nacho Monreal tested Jack Butland with a firm drive on the follow-up.
 
Stoke remained a threat themselves, and came perilously close to taking the lead when Shaqiri’s inswinging corner hit the far post, before Aubameyang was put through on goal only to see Butland save again.
 
Lacazette – on for his first appearance for close to two months – added energy up front and saw a close-range shot blocked, while Calum Chambers also went close.
 
But finally we broke the deadlock with 15 minutes remaining when Aubameyang coolly slotted home from the penalty spot – much to the relief of the Emirates crowd.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores against Stoke

Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ozil both tested Butland in quick succession as we entered the final 10 minutes, before Auabmeyang reacted quickest in the box to fire home from eight yards.
 
Bellerin was then hauled down in the box in the final minute, and it was Lacazette’s turn this time to take the penalty and he made no mistake to seal a fine second-half display.

HOW IT HAPPENED

See how the match unfolded and get the standout stats with our play-by-play commentary

WHAT IT MEANS

Premier League table after Stoke (h)

WHAT’S NEXT

We return to Europa League action on Thursday when we host CSKA Moscow in the first leg of our quarter-final clash with the Russians.
 
We have only met them twice before, in the group stage of the 2006/07 Champions League when we lost 1-0 in Russia then drawing 0-0 at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal team

CAPTAIN JACK

Jack Wilshere took the armband against Stoke in the absence of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, and was at the heart of the action.
 
Here are some of his key moments:
 
22 – Bellerin crosses in low from the right, it bounces up off Wilshere’s leg and causes a scramble with Ramsey running on to it but his first-time shot grazes the crossbar
 
28 – Wilshere spins away from his marker on the edge of the area and drives in on goal and passes to Ramsey, whose shot is blocked Pieters
 
66 – Wilshere drops the shoulder to buy himself some space 20 yards out and lets fly with a shot but he doesn’t get clean contact on it and Butland gets down to make the save
 
76 – Wilshere is replaced by Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Jack Wilshere in action against Stoke

News

Watch our goals from the win over Stoke

We had to be patient - but in the end we ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over Stoke City on Sunday afternoon.

Following a goalless first half, we eventually took the lead with a quarter of an hour to play, when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coolly converted from the spot, after we were controversially awarded a penalty.

Auba added his second soon after, finishing clinically after a loose ball fell to him in the penalty area.

And Alexandre Lacazette - making his first appearance since February 10 - completed the scoring from the spot just before full-time.

You can watch all the action from our win now. Scroll up for extended highlights and scroll down for all the goals and a full match replay.

 

 

Interview

Auba - Why I let Laca take the second penalty

Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrate against Stoke City

It is a rare to see a striker on a hat-trick pass up the opportunity to take a penalty - but that is exactly what Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did on Sunday.

The Gabon striker had already scored twice against Stoke City, but when a last-minute spot kick was awarded he gave it to Alexandre Lacazette.

But why? This is what he told the media when he was interviewed alongside Aaron Ramsey:

on the scoreline not telling the full story…
AR: It was difficult in the first half. Sometimes that happens after an international break, where it takes you a bit of time to get into it. They’re fighting for their lives at the bottom and it was important for us to just stay in the game in the first half. We know that our quality can then come through in the end. We’re delighted to get the three points.

on it being frustrating…
PEA: Yes, it was not easy. It’s not always easy to start after an international break, but the second half was really good. I think the spaces were open so we did a good job in the second half.

on whether Thursday was on the players’ minds…
AR: No I don’t think so. I think we were committed today and fought until the end. Yeah, it was frustrating at times, but those things sometimes happen in games and it was important for us to not concede. We did that and won.

on whether he felt under more pressure after his penalty v City was saved…
PEA: Yes, a little bit. I was just thinking that I needed to score and be focused. I did, so there was a little bit of pressure but it was OK.

on why he didn’t take the second penalty…
PEA: I know that Laca is back and I’d scored twice, so I wanted to let him score. It’s normal. I think it’s good for his confidence, and that’s why.

on the lower attendance…
AR: I think it was alright. We didn’t let it affect us. They were behind us. They were frustrated in the first half and so were we, but they stuck with us and we’re glad that we got them the three points in the end.

on what his haircut means…
PEA: It’s my grandmother’s name. She passed away last week, so this is dedicated to her.

Alexandre Lacazette celebrates against Stoke

How does it feel to be back, Laca?

The Breakdown

How Laca and Micki helped change the game

We secured our fourth win on the bounce when we beat Stoke City on Sunday with three late goals.

In the latest episode of The Breakdown, Adrian Clarke examines the match in detail, focusing on:

  • Why we struggled to find our rhythm in the first half
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's eye-catching display
  • Why Lacazette and Mkhitaryan's introductions were vital
  • Aaron Ramsey's energetic and industrious performance

 

Interview

Jack - Why I'm buzzing for Lacazette

It was a fine return to the Arsenal team for Alexandre Lacazette after recovering from the injury that kept him out for close to two months.

The France international stepped off the bench to play a key role as we beat Stoke City, and afterwards Jack Wilshere told us why he was so pleased for his team-mate:
 
on getting the result we deserved…
We expected that a little bit. When they sit deep it’s hard to break them down, and you have to be at your best on the ball and I don’t think we were in the first half. Sometimes it’s like that after an international break, it takes 45 minutes to blow the cobwebs off. I think in the second half we tried to up it and as the game went on, they got tired, we upped it and our attacking play was too much for them.

on how important it was to keep defensive focus…
We knew they were going to sit in to hit us on the counter. You have to set yourself up so that if you lose the ball, you’re ready to press straight away. In the first half we weren’t really doing that. It was more stretched and we kept losing cheap balls, but in the second half we were much better.

on Lacazette and Aubameyang delivering…
I’m buzzing for Laca. I know how hard he’s worked. He didn’t take his injury well, but nobody does. He was down but he knew what it takes to come back. He’s worked hard and only trained a couple of days, but he was out there and looked like he’s not been away. It’s good for the team, good for him and I’m happy for him.

on CSKA Moscow…
It’s a big game. We needed that 90 minutes out of the way. We needed to get the three points, move on and keep the momentum going. We’ve won a few in a row and wanted to keep that going. Now we’ve got a big one on Thursday and we’re ready for that.

Fixtures

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Results

Premier League
The Emirates FA Cup