Arsenal were by far the better team against Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, when Theo Walcott's first-half finish and Olivier Giroud's late header sealed the points.
- Arsenal 2 – 0 Stoke City
- Alexis hits woodwork twice
- Walcott gives Arsenal a well-deserved lead
- Giroud heads home the second late on
Arsenal put the Potters under constant pressure right from the start, with Alexis Sanchez hitting the post twice as Arsenal camped out around the Stoke box and forced Jack Butland into a number of fine saves.
The Gunners took the lead when Theo Walcott latched onto a long ball over the top from Mesut Ozil, taking it under close control with his first touch before finishing past the onrushing keeper with his second.
Despite Arsenal's clear superiority, Walcott's effort was all that separated the two sides until Olivier Giroud's introduction late on. After fluffing an earlier chance the big French centre-forward got his head to a Santi Cazorla free-kick to wrap up the points.
The first half was one of relentless Arsenal pressure, and they set the tone early on with a chance in the second minute. Alexis Sanchez got his header on target from Santi Cazorla's cross and Jack Butland was called into action for the first time to save it onto the post, with Theo Walcott shooting wide from the rebound.
Alexis would proved to be a threat throughout the game and got an early free-kick on target that forced Butland into a diving save. The Potters goalkeeper was beaten moments later by the Chilean, but his effort bounced back off the post to safety.
Arsenal's next Chance came via Walcott when the England international picked up the ball at pace down the left flank and cut inside onto his right foot to force another save, but was guilty of missing the target with a subsequent header.
The Gunners had 72 per cent possession in the first half along with their multitude of chances, and even centre-back Laurent Koscielny got to try his luck with a spectacular long-range effort that called Butland into action yet again.
The seemingly inevitable Arsenal breakthrough came just past the half-hour mark when Francis Coquelin's tackle allowed Mesut Ozil to pick up possession in his own half and float a pinpoint through-ball forward towards Walcott, who took it down perfectly with his first touch before slotting it past the onrushing keeper.
Arsenal again had the lion's share of possession and chances early in the second half but seemed to have eased up a little bit after the break.
One of Arsenal's better attempts to add a second goal came in the 68th minute when Ozil was put through on goal, but the German was unable to squeeze it past Butland at his near post. Meanwhile, a rare foray into the opposition half for Stoke resulted in a ballooned effort wide of goal at the end of a relatively toothless counterattack.
Olivier Giroud almost got lucky soon after coming on in the 75th minute when Stoke failed to clear their box and a mistake saw the ball fall at the Frenchman's feet just in front of goal, but he clearly wasn't expecting a shooting opportunity and scuffed his hasty shot wide. Cazorla then carved out an effort for himself with a strong run across the box that ended with just a goal-kick.
Giroud then made the points safe with a header in the 85th minute. Cazorla stood over a free-kick out wide and the big Frenchman was on hand to meet the cross with a no-nonsense header that made the closing stages even more comfortable for the Gunners.