Arsenal defeated Stoke City 3-0 as Premier League football returned to The Emirates Stadium after the recent International Break. The Gunners, who had lost four of their last six games, were in desperate need of some points and got exactly what they wanted. Here are five things we learned from the game.
Poor first half from ArsenalArsenal played one of their season’s worst footballing half during the first 45 minutes. Even by Arsene Wenger’s own admission, Gunners were way too sloppy, giving the ball away frequently. It almost felt as if Arsenal had more misplaced passes than they had completed in the opponent’s half.
In the absence of Granit Xhaka, who was on the bench, Arsenal struggled to knock the ball around and start playing their football. Wilshere, Özil and Ramsey were very poor in the first 30 minutes of the game. Arsenal did improve in the dying moments of the first half, but couldn’t cause much damage having only one shot on target at the end of the first half. They were lucky that Stoke didn’t punish them for their mistakes.
It’s all about the Thursday nightsArsenal have clearly shifted all their focus to the Europa League now. Arsene Wenger rested key players in Laurent Koscielny, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Granit Xhaka against Stoke ahead of the Thursday night clash against CSKA Moscow. With a top four finish now being virtually impossible, it clearly leaves no other option but to win the Europa League for Wenger’s men to qualify for the Champions League.
Alexandre Lacazette back for ArsenalAlexandre Lacazette suffered a minor setback that kept him out for about a month but the striker came back with a superb display yesterday. It was only after him coming on in the second half when Arsenal actually started playing some decent football.
The Gunners, who were kept quiet by Stoke for a long time started threatening the Pottwrs defence when Lacazette came on. The result, three goals.
The striker’s sharpness saw his team score three goals, one for the Frenchman himself, while Aubameyang grabbed the other two.
Lacazette-Aubameyang partnership is the way forward?A lot of people talked about Aubameyang’s arrival having an impact on Alexandre Lacazette’s performance when he signed in January. There were talks about the manager not trusting Lacazette enough, which could lead to a possible disruption among the two strikers in the dressing room.
However, the duo proved all critics wrong as Aubameyang, who was on a hat-trick, gave away his penalty to Lacazette. Aubameyang later explained the reason for giving away the penalty and how the penalty would be “good for his confidence”, as Lacazette had just returned from an injury. That did show the kind of positive air shared between the two.
Also notable, was the fact that Arsenal played some amazing football and scored all three goals of the game while the two were playing together on the field. So, the Aubameyang-Lacazette partnership might be the way going forward for Arsenal in seasons to come.
It’s looking bleak for StokeStoke City sit 19th in the table, with only West Brom being worse than them this season. The Potters have struggled way too much this season, and might finally return to the Championship after nine seasons in the Premier League.
What will have been most frustrating about Stoke’s performance in the game was how they couldn’t take advantage of Arsenal’s sloppy first half. Given how poor the Gunners were in the first half, any half decent Premier League team would have punished them, but Stoke just couldn’t do anything about it. The one time that Stoke came close, Xherdan Shaqiri hit the crossbar, that moment was enough to sum up how Stoke City’s season has been.