Arsenal maintain challenge for top four finish with victory over Stoke City
Arsenal beat Stoke City 4-1 in the Premier League at the Bet365 stadium this evening.
It keeps the Gunners in fifth position in the Premier League table, with two matches to play, as they make a late push to secure a top four finish.
Arsenal take on relegated Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, before completing their league campaign at home to Everton.
Arsenal are still reliant on Manchester City and Liverpool dropping points in their remaining matches to get that top four spot.
Manchester City moved into third place in the table with their 2-1 win over Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium earlier in the day.
They are three points ahead of Arsenal with two matches to play. Manchester City are at home to West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday before completing their league campaign with an away trip to take on Watford.
Arsenal’s gap to Liverpool is now one point ahead of the Reds visit to the London Stadium to take on West Ham United tomorrow. Liverpool complete their league season with a home match against relegated Middlesbrough.
Goals from Olivier Giroud (2), Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez secured the three points for Arsenal. Peter Crouch scored for Stoke City.
It was only the Gunners second win away to Stoke City in the Premier League era.
Arsenal took the lead in the forty-second minute after a flowing team move involving Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin.
Giroud had the simple task of turning the ball into the net from Bellerin’s low cross.
The Gunners doubled their lead in the fifty-fifth minute after more incisive build-up play.
It ended with Ozil playing a one-two with Sanchez before lifting the ball over Jack Butland into the roof of the net. It was Sanchez’s tenth Premier League assist of the season.
The Potters got back into the match with a controversial goal in the sixty-seventh minute.
Peter Crouch turned the ball into the net from Marko Arnautovic’s cross with his hand.
Despite protests from the Arsenal players the goal was allowed to stand by referee Mike Dean.
Crouch has now scored nine Premier League goals against Arsenal.
The goal lifted Stoke and the home crowd. Arsenal had to withstand a spell of sustained pressure and corner kicks from the home side.
It was Arsenal though who scored the decisive next goal in the seventy-fifth minute.
Sanchez ran onto a pass from Bellerin and broke into the penalty area before beating Butland with a low right-footed finish.
It was Sanchez’s twenty-first Premier League goal of the season, and his fifteenth away Premier League goal this season – only Kevin Phillips (16 in 1999-00) has scored more in a single campaign.
It was Sanchez’s fiftieth goal in the Premier League in his Arsenal career.
Sanchez is the eighth player to score fifty Premier League goals for Arsenal, with only Thierry Henry (83 games) and Ian Wright (87) reaching the milestone faster than the Chilean (101).
Sanchez is also the first player to record double figures for both goals (21) and assists (10) in the Premier League this season.
The Gunners final goal came in the seventy-ninth minute when substitute, Aaron Ramsey got the better of Glen Johnson in the penalty area before cutting the ball back for Giroud to slide in his second of the match.
Arsenal have scored 4+ goals in five away league games this season. It’s their most in a season since 1936-37 (also five).
This is what Arsene Wenger had to say after the match:
“We had a difficult week but we have won convincingly so the focus is there, the fighting spirit is there and we’re pleased to win. I believe when the team plays well we have the right individual talent to win.
“When they scored the ‘hand-goal’ they came back but when you go to places like Stoke you need at some stage to suffer and stick together and that is what we did.”
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Holding Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Coquelin, Ozil (Welbeck), Sanchez (Ramsey), Giroud (Walcott)