Arsenal 3 Stoke 1: Van Persie inspires Gunners to victory
Substitute Robin van Persie scored twice to give Arsenal victory over stubborn Stoke City at The Emirates
Robin van Persie came off the bench to inspire Arsenal to victory over resilient Stoke City at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The Dutchman scored twice in the second half to give the Gunners the three points after Peter Crouch has cancelled out Gervinho’s opener before the break.
The win hoists Arsène Wenger’s men up to seventh in the Premier League table on 13 points, six behind Newcastle United in fourth.
The game had started slowly, with Tony Pulis’s Stoke working hard to prevent Arsenal from settling into their usual passing rhythm.
Aaron Ramsey had the first real opportunity for the Gunners after 22 minutes when the ball fell to him on the edge of the box – but the Welshman’s shot flew just wide of the left-hand post.
And it was Ramsey who constructed Arsenal’s opener moments later. The Wales international chipped a pass over the Stoke defence which Gervinho expertly chested down before firing past Asmir Begovic to put his side ahead after 27 minutes.
Stoke, however, were level six minutes later courtesy of a well-worked free kick. Glenn Whelan’s delivery was kept in play before being headed on by Jonathan Walters for Crouch to apply the finishing touch.
Marouane Chamakh then spurned a glorious opportunity to put Arsenal ahead again just before the break, but his flick-on from Mikel Arteta’s cross went just wide.
Stoke continued to frustrate the home side after the interval, effectively containing the Gunners and preventing Wenger’s men from creating any clear-cut openings.
And with his side struggling to break down the stubborn visitors the Arsenal boss had no choice but to call on Van Persie, who the Frenchman had opted to leave on the bench.
On for the again disappointing Chamakh, the Dutchman’s impact was instant and emphatic.
Arteta fed Gervinho, whose near-post cut-back was squeezed in by the Arsenal captain to grab the Gunners’ 200th Premier League goal at Emirates Stadium in the 73rd minute.
Van Persie’s presence had visibly lifted the home side – and the striker turned in Arsenal’s third in the 82nd minute, again after impressive work by Gervinho, this time on the left wing.
Gervinho continues to impress since his summer move from Lille, but the Ivorian’s display was trumped by Van Persie’s simply sublime 27-minute cameo in north London.
Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny, Johan Djourou, André Santos, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Mikel Arteta, Alexandre Song, Theo Walcott (Andrey Arshavin, 71), Aaron Ramsey, Marouane Chamakh (Robin van Persie, 67), Gervinho (Emmanuel Frimpong, 91).
Stoke City: Asmir Begovic, Ryan Shawcross, Matthew Upson, Marc Wilson, Andy Wilkinson, Glenn Whelan, Rory Delap (Salif Diao, 60), Dean Whitehead, Matthew Etherington (Cameron Jerome, 74), Jonathan Walters, Peter Crouch (Kenwyne Jones, 74).