Arsenal vs Stoke Player Ratings

Stoke produced a plucky display at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday but were ultimate as a deflected free-kick from Lukas Podolski helped Arsenal to a 1-0 win.

Arsenal vs Stoke: Per Mertesacker; Steven N'Zonzi

By FOX SPORTS staff

In a game that was largely dominated by the Gunners, Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic looked to have earned his side a valuable point after making a series of fine saves in the first half to deny Theo Walcott, Laurent Koscielny and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

However, the Potters' resistance was eventually broken 12 minutes from time when Podolski, who had only come onto the pitch ten minutes earlier, drilled an effort from the edge of the box that was deflected into the back of the net.

Here, FOXSportsAsia.com takes a look at the movers and shakers from Saturday's game at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal

Wojciech Szczesny - 6.5

Given Arsenal's dominance, Szczesny hardly had anything to do throughout the 90 minutes.

Bacary Sagna - 7

Sagna completely nullified the threat of Matthew Etherington and also showed good initiative in pushing forward.

Although the Frenchman has been inconsistent since returning from injury, Saturday's display was reminiscent of him at his best.

Laurent Koscielny - 7

The ex-Lorient man put in an assured display in the heart of the Arsenal defence and also pushed forward to good effect, coming close to opening the scoring in the first half when his close-range header was blocked by Begovic.

Per Mertesacker - 6.5

Although the Gunners backline was hardly threatened, Mertesacker struggled to keep Peter Crouch under control and lost out to him in a number of one-on-one challenges.

The Germany international did however do well to weigh in with a couple of sharp interceptions.

Nacho Monreal - 7.5

Monreal had an excellent debut for Arsenal and looks set to become a new Emirates Stadium favourite if he manages to maintain this level of performance.

He never gave his direct opponent time to settle on the ball and also proved to be an attacking threat with his dangerous crosses.

Abou Diaby (off 68') - 5

It was a surprise that Aaron Ramsey did not start in the holding midfield role given his recent good form, and Diaby certainly failed to offer Arsenal the same tidy distribution the Welshman produces.

Although he kept his opponents busy with his galloping runs, they often amounted to nothing as he never quite knew what to do with the ball in an advanced position.

Mikel Arteta - 7

The Spaniard has spent much of this season playing as an anchorman, but it looked like he enjoyed the freedom he was given on Saturday as Arsene Wenger deployed him in a more-attacking role.

Arteta was neat with his distribution his steadying influence in the middle of the park meant the Gunners were always in control.

Jack Wilshere - 8

Wilshere was one of the best players on the park as he linked up midfield and attack to good effect.

The 21-year-old was never afraid to run at defenders but also held off challenges well, and was a real spark in the attacking third.

Theo Walcott (on 90') - 7.5

The England international started the game very brightly and looked the likeliest source of an Arsenal opening as he found space down the right time and time again.

However, Walcott was unable to make the most of his blistering pace as his delivery into the box was awful and he gradually faded out of the game.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (off 68') - 7

Oxlade-Chamberlain was extremely lively down the left and made his way into several promising positions, and it was a surprise that he made way for Lukas Podolski after the hour mark.

Olivier Giroud - 6.5

The towering Arsenal striker worked hard in his role of target man but it just wasn't his day as he failed to get into too many scoring positions.

Subs

Santi Cazorla (on 68') - 6.5

Although Cazorla's form has dipped in recent weeks, his energetic cameo display against Stoke suggests he could be back to his best very soon.

Lukas Podolski (on 68') - 7

Podolski came off the bench to good effect by netting Arsenal's winner in the 78th minute when his powerful free-kick took a wicked deflection and sailed past the wrong-footed Begovic.

Apart from his goal, he also showed good energy after coming on and is making it difficult for Wenger to leave him out of his starting XI.

Aaron Ramsey (on 90')

N/A

Stoke

Asmir Begovic - 8

Had it not been for Begovic, Stoke might have found themselves trailing by a couple of goals at the break after the Bosnian international made a string of fine saves to keep Arsenal at bay.

There was little he could do about Podolski's winner and the 25-year-old can be well pleased with his display, which is only going to generate more interest from reported suitors Manchester United.

Ryan Shotton - 6.5

Shotton defended admirably considering he spent the majority of the match up against the tricky Oxlade-Chamberlain, but he was slightly ineffective in attack.

Ryan Shawcross - 7

Despite his every touch inciting a round of jeers from the Gunners faithful, who have clearly not forgiven him for his career-threatening challenge on Ramsey in 2010, Shawcross coped well and lead his side with authority.

Robert Huth - 7.5

Huth was once again immense at the back for the Potters and headed away every ball that entered the visitors' area.

Andy Wilkinson - 5.5

Wilkinson has made his career out of his gritty approach but he looked a defeated man on Saturday as he was ran absolutely ragged by Walcott.

Jon Walters (off 84') - 7

The Republic of Ireland international put in a typical determined display although he was well matched by Monreal.

Few players can match Walters for bravery and he picked up his customary injury when a fearless challenge saw his forehand split open unintentionally by the Gunners left-back.

Geoff Cameron (off 84') - 5

The American has established himself as a regular in Tony Pulis' starting XI since joining from Houston Dynamo last summer, but while he is a useful utility to have, he struggles against the league's best sides, and spent most of Saturday's game chasing shadows.

Steven Nzonzi - 7

Nzonzi showed why he was once linked with a move to Arsenal after producing a combative display in the Stoke engine room.

He was effective at both ends of the ground and also looked menacing at set-pieces with his height.

Glenn Whelan - 6

HE was well placed in the middle of the park to make interceptions whenever there were stray balls but was generally overrun by the likes of Wilshere and Arteta.

Matthew Etherington - 5

Stoke could not rely on their set pieces for a lucky break against Arsenal at the Emirates stadium as the once-reliable Etherington's crosses were extremely poor by his standards.

His attempts to take on Sagna on the wings were also easily extinguished.

Peter Crouch (off 84') - 7

The target man did everything right in this game, coming out tops in all the aerial battles with Mertesacker and Koscielny.

However, he lacked the support from his midfielders and had to always collect the ball from deep, which meant that there was nobody in the advanced positions to benefit from his flick-ons.

Subs

Kenwnye Jones (on 84')

N/A

Cameron Jerome (on 84')

N/A

Michael Owen (on 84')

N/A



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