Arsenal ‘in the fight’ for the title after coming from behind to beat Stoke
FA Premier League: Arsenal 3, Stoke City 1
10 December, 2016 — By Ella Jessel
ARSENE Wenger insisted his side were “in the fight” for the title after Arsenal came from behind to beat Stoke 3-1 and go top of the Premier League this afternoon (Saturday).
The Gunners mounted an impressive comeback after going 1-0 down to a Charlie Adam penalty, responding by scoring three to add to their recent flurry of goals.
The victory sees Arsenal leapfrog Chelsea into the top spot on goals scored, though Wenger stressed that could change when the blues take on West Brom at Stamford Bridge tomorrow (Sunday).
“It’s good but let’s wait until tomorrow,” he told reporters after the game, adding: “We are in there, no matter what the results will be. That’s good, we’re in the fight.”
In an evenly-matched first half, the visitors had a number of decent chances and Marc Muniesa almost scored an early wondergoal with a left-footed volley that forced a brilliant save from Petr Cech.
But it was through a penalty that Stoke took the lead after Granit Xhaka went in for a tackle with his arms dangling in the air and clattered midfielder Joe Allen in the face.
Charlie Adam calmly sent Cech the wrong way with Wenger left seething at the referee’s decision on the touchline.
The afternoon looked to have taken a turn for the worse for Arsenal when Shkodran Mustafi injured a hamstring and had to be substituted for Hector Bellerin, returning after a month out with an injury.
But there was no sign of rustiness from the right-back. His pace and incisive passing injected purpose into the Arsenal attack and it was not long before Bellerin set up Arsenal’s equaliser with an excellent cross to Theo Walcott who swiped it in from close range.
Arsenal shifted up a gear in the second half and took the lead when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain managed to pick out a meandering Mesut Ozil who calmly headed the ball in a delightful slow-motion loop over the flailing arms of keeper Lee Grant and into the back of the Stoke net.
Speaking after the game, the Arsenal boss praised his side for keeping calm at 1-0 down: “The key was not to get my frustration into the game and to keep our nerves and composure and that’s what we did. We kept passing the ball and we didn’t panic.”
Stoke had chances of their own and almost scored when Mark Hughes made a timely substitution, sending on Peter Crouch for a corner. He lolloped to the back post and, rising high above a clutch of four red shirts headed the ball into the bottom right corner. Cech managed to get low and push it away.
But Arsenal sealed the win in the 75th minute with the efforts of another impact substitution Alex Iwobi, on for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who dashed straight at the goal and fizzed a shot passed the Stoke keeper to make it 3-1.
It was an impressive win for the Gunners, who have now not lost in the league since the opening day of the season and have notched up more goals than any other premiership team.
ARSENAL: Cech, Gabriel, Mustafi (Bellerin 25’), Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Xhaka, Walcott, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Iwobi 69’), Sanchez (Giroud 78’)
Subs not used: Gibbs, Perez, Ospina, Elneny.
Tickets sold: 59,964