Last Updated: 02/02/13 4:56pm
Arsenal claim what was a deserved victory, but it didn't come easy. Begovic was outstanding throughout and Arsene Wenger's side needed a wickedly deflected free-kick to prevail. Thanks for sticking with us this afternoon.
Clash between Owen and Arteta after a heft challenge from the Spaniard. Owen responded by seeming to punch Arteta in the ribs, but the referee took no action.
The game is quite frantic now, with neither side in the ascendancy. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played.
Triple substitution for Stoke as Kenwyne Jones, Cameron Jerome and Michael Owen are sent on for Crouch, Walters and Cameron.
Going back to the goal, the linesman was flagging for an offside against Walcott from the free-kick, but he was not active and referee overruled him. Good refereeing.
Great chance for Cazorla as he bundles his way past the Stoke defence with a combination of luck and skill, but saw his poked right-foot shot tipped over by Begovic.
Breakthrough at last for Arsenal as, from the foul Wilkinson conceded, Podolski's low free-kick is deflected past the helpless Begovic.
Wilkinson booked for a foul on Walcott as the England winger cut in from the right and looked to skip along the edge of the box.
Monreal shoots from 25 yards out .... is this the moment to mark his debut in style? .... no, because it's badly sliced and almost hits the corner flag.
James Trammell tweets: "Great to see great names like Cazorla & Podolski replacing solid names like Diaby & Ox. Depth is an undervalued commodity."
Half-chance for Arsenal as Cazorla reaches the right byline and lofts a cross to Giroud, who looped a header narrowly wide. Begovic had it covered, though.
Arsenal back on the front foot again and the pressure is starting to build back up. The hosts have resumed pinging it around the final third and probing.
Podolski has taken over on the Arsenal left, with Cazorla in the centre. Stoke has edged their way back into the game in the last 5-10 minutes and Arsenal have simultaneously lost their momentum.
Stoke finally find a yard of space to get a shot away, but it fell to the wrong man, Shawcross, who blazes a left-footer well wide. Walcott is down now after a clash with Wilkinson. It seems like he was caught by a stray hand, but it wasn't intentional. Cazorla and Podolski about to come on...
Stoke finally break Arsenal's monopoly of the ball and start pinging it around themselves for a while. Just like Arsenal, though, they're lacking penetration.
Arsenal are hogging possession now and are just playing it around the final third waiting for an opening to present itself.
Wilshere is currently the best player on the pitch by some distance. He has been involved in all of Arsenal's good play and his incisive passing is causing Stoke no end of problems.
Good chance for Arsenal as Giroud plays a one-two with Wilshere in the left corner of the box before sending a scooped left-footed shot over the bar. Nice interplay, but needed a better finish.
Play has been stopped again by an injury to Walcott, but the England winger is fine to play on and, as I write, the game resumes. Stoke aren't going to get many chances in this game, so if they want to win, they need to take whatever comes their way.
Dele Ojomo tweets: "Stoke may not know how to win when they want to win sure know how to draw a game. I fancy a win here but I fear for a draw."
Great defending from Huth as Wilshere frees Monreal on the left, where the Spaniard clips the ball up towards Giroud, only for Huth to out-jump him and clear.
Arsenal dominating possession now and Stoke are back to 10 men behind the ball. I reckon there will be one goal in this game at best. If you're fancying a bet, 0-0 wouldn't be a bad one.
Better from Arsenal now, though, as Oxlade-Chamberlain beats Shotton on the left and sets up a period of pressure in the Stoke box, but the hosts couldn't create a shooting opportunity and the ball was eventually cleared.
Arsenal haven't been able to pick up where they left off at the end of the first half. The break came at precisely the wrong time for them. Fairly scrappy start to the second period.
It sounds like Walters had half-a-dozen stitches in his head wound at the break. He's now Stoke's second player wearing a bandage along with Robert Huth.
Sadjad in Iran e-mails to say: "mysteriously Arsenal have scored better in the second half through this season. I believe they score two goals in the first quarter of the 2nd half."
The teams are back out on the pitch and the second half is about to start. Last chance to get a cuppa in.
Adam MacArthur e-mails to say: "The game is going to Stokes plan. Soak up Arsenal pressure then hit them on the counter in the second half. Walcott and co will need to find a way past an inspired Begovic and soon if they are to get anything from this game, I feel."
Jordan Ling e-mails to say: "Wenger should bring podolski on for diaby and change to a 4-3-3 formation with podolski, giruod and Walcott the front 3."
Mark Wood in London tweets: "Arsenal are looking good should get 2 goals in 2nd half and well done to aw for signing monreal looks like a solid player."
Nathan McNally tweets: "Arsenal should try 3 at the back if this attacking continues, bring cazorla on for the extra attacking option."
Donatello tweets: "If Gervinho comes back to Arsenal in the form he is in at the AFCON, he could be a real threat."
Leo Hoey tweets: "A club like arsenal should not be aiming for top 4 each year, if we finish top 4 this year ill be amazed."
Arsenal have been the better side in the first half and should really be in front. Stoke have offered virtually nothing going forward and will need to step it up after the break. What are your thoughts? Does Tony Pulis need to make a change? Could Arsene Wenger do with bringing Cazorla and Podolski on? Tweet me @MattSkyCycling or drop an e-mail to email@example.com and I'll publish your comments.
Fresh Prince tweets: "I actually do believe in my arsenal boys we can do it well done wenger for monreal"
Walters has had a bandage put on his head but, bizarrely, it is covering his entire right eye, so he looks a little bit like a pirate. Play is back under way.
A clash of heads between Walters and Monreal has brought respite for Stoke. Walters is down with a cut to his right temple, but Monreal looks OK.
Arsenal are laying siege to the Stoke goal right now and both Walcott and Giroud have just had snapshots blocked. Stoke desperately hanging on.
Brilliant save again from Begovic! Wilshere slides the ball in behind the Stoke defence and into the path of the onrushing Oxlade-Chamberlain, who opens up his body and curls a shot towards the far corner, but Begovic pushed it wide with a strong arm. All Arsenal now; Stoke on the wrack.
Donatello (not the artist or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle) tweets to say: "Arsenal need to be more clinical in front of goal, at times anyway!"
Guy Incognito tweets: "Andy Wilkinson should stop emailing you and concentrate on defending!" Actually, that's my fault - it was Andy Wilson who e-mailed. Apologies.
Fantastic save from Begovic! A cross is swung in from the left and I Laurent Koscielny fires a point-blank header goalwards, but Begovic once again got his body in the way. Moments before, a corner fell to Giroud at the back post six yards out, but rather than head for goal, he inexplicably nods it back across goal. On both occasions, Stoke's marking was non-existent.
Alex Bullions tweets to ask: "I wonder if Monreal will be as fast as Gibbs?" Answer on evidence so far: not quite, but he's not slow either.
Will.I.Am (not the pop star) tweets to say: "Arsenal need to do more with possession need to win this game."
Fantastic chance for Arsenal! Walcott beats Wilkinson to win a corner, which Per Mertesacker flicks on to the back post, where the unmarked Oxlade-Chamberlain controls and fires off a snap-shot from three yards that Asmir Begovic does brilliantly well to save. For once, dreadful marking from Stoke.
Alas, Ryan Shotton can launch a throw-in a mile too and duly does so, with the ball falling to Shawcross, who turned into half a yard of space and fired a shot harmlessly high and wide. Arsenal need to step it up here. Stoke will be increasingly happy.
Slightly embarrassing moment for Monreal just now as he fails to control a routine ball out to the left wing and let's the ball roll out for a throw. Fear not, though, Arsenal fans - Rory Delap joined Barnsley last week.
Can't say there's too much penetration about Arsenal's play right now - and that was no better exemplified than a moment ago when Walcott attempting to shoot through a forest of Stoke defenders rather than attempt to pick a pass. Needless to say, his effort was blocked and cleared. I'd give Arsenal 6/10 so far and Stoke 5/10.
Andy Wilkinson e-mails to ask: "I wonder if Walcott's confidence has come from his more central role?"
Chance for Stoke as the ball drops to Glenn Whelan 25 yards out, but for some reason the Ireland international decided to almost lay down when striking the ball and it flew embarrassingly over. Arsenal respond with an attack down the left through Monreal and Oxlade-Chamberlain, who wins a corner, but nothing comes of it.
The early tempo with which Arsenal started the game has dropped now, which has helped Stoke get back into it. Possession is pretty much 50/50 right now, with neither side doing much with it.
Despite what I just said, Stoke are still pulling everyone but Crouch back behind the ball as soon as Arsenal regain possession. The pattern for the game has definitely been set.
Signs now that Stoke are coming to life as they start to push more men forward. Crouch just received a high ball 20 yards out with his back to goal, span and sent a deflected shot well over. Nothing came of the resulting corner. Better from the visitors.
Hang on, scratch what I just said because Jon Walters has just picked up the ball in the Arsenal half, drove forward and let a right-foot shot fly, but it was straight at Wojciech Szczesny.
It's been a solid enough start from the new Arsenal man, Monreal. He is supporting Oxlade-Chamberlain well but hasn't really been tested defensively. The game has just quietened down a touch now, with Arsenal's tempo dropping slightly. Stoke still can't get a foothold in the game. I can't see their goals coming from anything other than set pieces on the evidence so far.
Oliver Robinson e-mails to say: "Cazorla isnt on the starting 11. arsene needs to boost Santi's morale."
Great start to the game from Arsenal, and particularly Walcott, who has just raced across the field and set up another attack by releasing Oxlade-Chamberlain. However, the young winger's cross was overhit and, again, the chance was lost.
Another attack from Arsenal down the right as Mikel Arteta releases Walcott, who makes a mug of Andy Wilkinson by stripping him for pace, but his cutback was behind Olivier Giroud and Stoke were let off the hook.
Stoke haven't got going at all here. They finally managed to get hold of the ball, but then twice in quick succession, poor passing saw them give it sloppily away.
All Arsenal early on here as they ping it patiently around midfield. Stoke have already got 11 men behind the ball.
And now Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain follows suit by letting the first shot of the game fly from just outside the box. It was slightly scuffed and went harmlessly wide, but was very positive nonetheless.
Positive start from Theo Walcott as he wins the ball inside his own half and goes on a blistering 50-yard run down the right wing. Nothing came of it, but that's was a real signal of intent.
Thomas Armitage e-mails to say: "My name is thomas I'm 8 and I'm going with 3-1 arsenal with Walcott Giroud and Podolski then Crouch."
Colin Kelly in Ireland e-mails to say: "We are all frustrated at the lack of silverware coming to Arsenal and we all know that Arsenal's enterprise in developing a fab new stadium and maintaining a top four place in the premiership will one day soon be rewarded with that elusive silverware. But we must keep the faith and remain loyal. In the meantime, we pay tribute to the top amazing fans of such a great club."
The teams are just emerging from the tunnel. Stoke are in their changed strip of dark blue and burgundy stripes.
Dele Ojomo tweets say: "Fielding returning players (Diaby & Arteta) in the middle Vs a physical Stoke? Resting Poldi & Carzola when creativity's key?
Nine minutes to go until kick-off and the Emirates is barely half full. Either people have decided to stay away today or there's a monster queue at the burger kiosk.
Matt has tweeted again and reckons he's cracked the conundrum as to why Cazorla is on the bench: "With Cazorla playing on the bench it can allow Diaby to win more tackles in the air with Crouch , Nzonzi and hHuth."
Who wants another stat? Is that a hand up at the back? Yeah, you in the blue coat? OK, here we go then: If only the second half of games counted this season Arsenal would be second (46 points), two points behind Manchester City (48).
Matt has just tweeted to say: "I think arsenal can get a win today if giroud, podolski and walcott convert all of there chances and stop giving away fouls."
If you've not been keeping an eye on it, I can tell you the final whistle has just blown at Loftus Road, where QPR and Norwich have drawn 0-0 in what can only be described as a stinker. Adel Taarabt had a penalty saved.
I take it back, these stats are quite interesting. For example: Arsenal have made more errors leading directly to a goal than any other team in the Premier League this season (12).
Next up: Despite the intense rivalry, there have been just six yellow cards shown in total across the four games between Arsenal and Stoke at the Emirates. That is actually fairly eye-opening.
Right, I think it's about that time where I start bombarding you with some ridiculously obscure facts produced by our friends at Opta. Everyone sitting comfortably? Good. Here we go then: Arsenal have won five and lost just one of their last eight Premier League games against Stoke (drawn two), with four of those wins coming at the four meetings they have had at Emirates Stadium.
Alex in Enfield e-mails to say: "Arsene has lost the plot. Everyone but him can see Sagna is out of form and jenkinson is the better current option. And why are Cazorla and Podolski benched? Makes no sense."
Edd Irwin all the way from Durban, South Africa, e-mails to say: "Stoke have had a torrid time defense wise lately. They will be tested again this afternoon. I can't see Stoke getting anything out of this game but I'd like to think we get a point."
James Nathan Groves tweets to say: "We (Arsenal) need to come out full steam instead of waiting till the second half to pull our fingers out like lately!"
Stoke City team: Begovic, Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Wilkinson, Walters, Cameron, Nzonzi, Whelan, Etherington, Crouch. Subs: Sorensen, Jones, Owen, Adam, Whitehead, Kightly, Jerome.
Arsenal team: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Diaby, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Giroud. Subs: Mannone, Jenkinson, Santos, Ramsey, Rosicky, Cazorla, Podolski.
Stokie Phil in "sunny Spain" has just e-mailed to say: "Would like to see Stoke have a real go today & make a game of it. We need to improve our performances away from the Brit or we could get dragged into a relegation battle. 1-1 would be good."
Team news is just starting to reach us and I can tell Arsenal fans that new-signing Nacho Monreal starts as one of five changes to the team that drew with Liverpool on Wednesday. Full teams to follow...
Good afternoon and welcome along to our live coverage of Arsenal v Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium. I'm Matt Westby and I'll be taking you through all the build-up and then the match itself. If you want to hit me with a prediction, rant, rave or just a comment on the game, tweet me @MattSkyCycling or drop an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be happy to publish what you have to say. Enjoy the game.