If you couldn’t watch the game, unfortunately, you probably missed one the best overall performance by Arsenal this season. Because before you get to see something similar, we probably could have gone into extinction- A new big bang theory which explodes and the resultant force knocks Earth closer to the sun; Kim Jong-un apparent nuclear weapon plans; Creative sinister method by ISIS to send an astronaut into space to drop nuclear bombs on Earth..
After the FA Cup victory against Hull City, this was perfect platform to build on the momentum. Let’s face it, when we play at home, there is always that sense of belief that we got this one and the decent record at home against the visitors helped calmed the nerves.
We didn’t waste any time to show our intentions right from kickoff. Nancho Monreal found Alexis Sanchez, and the Chilean’s right footed shot from the left side of the box was saved by Begovic.
Since it’s a tradition that opposition goalkeepers fancy a’ Neuer’ against us, we already envisaged what to expect from Begovic.
The Bosnian didn’t disappoint; Rosicky’s shot from the right side of the box was easily handled after a clever pass from Cazorla.
However, the immense pressure was piling and Stoke were left flat-footed. An inch perfect cross by Sanchez from the left flank met Koscienly, the defender directed his header to the bottom right corner.
An early lead was probably Arsene’s echoing words in the dressing room before kickoff. Yet after Koscielny did just that, the Manager was presumably anxious because:
A) The team might lose focus after the goal
B) This is a Rugby team, and an early one against them could infuriate the players to do Nasty Rugby stuff that are clearly obnoxious and disallowed in football.
Arsene was spot on. The quick goal provoked the mind of the devil to cast us into a furnace, and with a grimaced face, we gnashed our teeth in despair.
A silly reaction from Marko Arnautovic resulted in a shoulder injury for Mathieu Debuchy, forcing the French defender to come off with barely ten minutes of play. Bellerin took his place.
We blew a big chance for a second when Sanchez immaculately found Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, but the English winger’s effort from outside the box went just wide.
Stoke almost pressed hard the panic button when, from a set-piece situation, Whelan right footed shot from the centre of the box failed miserably to hit the target.
A moment of brilliance by the magical Sanchez, however, almost settled the dominating affair in the first half. First an intricate combination with Rosicky, then the former Barcelona man made his trademark surge into the box, he left Shawcross for dead like an Elephant on a rollerskates, then planted his shot into the bottom left corner. It was a scintillating finish.
He wasn’t done. Is he ever done? After restart, from a freekick, he made no mistake to work Begovic to a save, shockingly, the Stoke stopper fumbled with his catch and the ball rolled into the net. It was game over and ostensibly for banter sake, Mark Hughes brought in Stephen Ireland to make it a colorful event courtesy of his ever-radiant head.
Earlier, Theo Walcott replaced Chamberlain, and then Ozil came on for Giroud. We weren’t expecting much from the duo, but the former could have been a surprise inclusion in the score sheet after Sanchez teed the Englishman through on goal but his subsequent effort was that of a player without match fitness.
3-0 it ended.
Afterwards Arsene said:
“We had a strong start and we knew that was vital today.
“Alexis Sanchez is one of the best players. He’s a fighter with a combination of talent and fighting spirit which is very difficult to find.
“He plays with passion and you want people to enjoy what they’re doing on the pitch and show it as well.”
It was some valuable 3 points especially with the demeanor of the other games that concerns our battle to secure a champions league berth. Up next is a daunting trip to Manchester to battle the er, well, League Champions.