Arsenal 3-0 Stoke: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette on target late on
By Stephen Mills
Last Updated: 01/04/18 11:40pm
Late goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette left Stoke deep in the relegation mire as Arsenal won 3-0 on Super Sunday.
Aubameyang scored from the penalty spot on 75 minutes after Mesut Ozil had been fouled by Bruno Martins Indi and added a second 11 minutes later when he smashed in from a corner.
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Arsenal were awarded a second penalty with one minute left and Lacazette stepped up to leave Arsene Wenger's side in confident mood ahead of Thursday's Europa League quarter-final with CSKA Moscow.
The result flattered the home side, but leaves Stoke in 19th place in the Premier League table and three points from safety with only six matches remaining to preserve their top-flight status.
Arsenal: Ospina (7), Bellerin (7), Mustafi (6), Chambers (6), Monreal (6), Ramsey (8), Elneny (7), Wilshere (7), Ozil (6), Aubameyang (8), Welbeck (6)
Subs: Lacazette (7), Mkhitaryan (7), Xhaka (6)
Stoke: Butland (7), Bauer (7), Martins Indi (5), Shawcross (6), Johnson (6), Pieters (6), Allen (6), Ndiaye (5), Diouf (6), Shaqiri (7), Sobhi (6)
Subs: Berahino (6), Crouch (6)
Man of the match: Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
The Emirates Stadium was far from full once again - and those in attendance saw few chances in the first half with Xherdan Shaqiri curling an early left-footed effort shot inches wide and Aaron Ramsey looping a 23rd-minute shot onto the top of the crossbar.
The home fans booed their players off at half-time and the game lacked tempo until the 69th minute when Shaqiri hit the post direct from a corner, moments before Jack Butland rushed off his line to deny Aubameyang.
The breakthrough eventually came with 15 minutes left to play when Ozil darted into the box and was tripped by Martins Indi, although the Stoke defender was adamant he touched the ball first. Aubameyang, who missed his previous spot kick against Manchester City, stepped up to send Butland the wrong way.
Jack Wilshere, who missed both of England’s friendlies last week, started in one of seven Arsenal changes from the win over Watford. David Ospina replaced the injured Petr Cech in goal as Arsene Wenger appeared to have one eye on Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final with CSKA Moscow. Mame Biram Diouf and Erik Pieters returned as Stoke made four changes.
Butland produced a great save to deny substitute Henrikh Mkhitaryan at the near post and then dived to stop Ozil from range - but from the resulting corner he was beaten again.
Shkodran Mustafi flicked on Ozil's corner and the unmarked Aubameyang was lurking to rifle the ball beyond the goalkeeper and into the net with four minutes to play.
There was more misery for luckless Stoke in the final minute when Badou Ndiaye barged over Lacazette on the edge of the area and the Arsenal substitute was allowed to take - and score - the resulting penalty, even though the selfless Aubameyang was on a hat-trick.
- Arsenal have won their last 16 home matches against Stoke in all competitions, a run stretching back to August 1981.
- Stoke are winless in their last 18 Premier League matches in London (W0 D6 L12), since winning 2-1 at Tottenham in November 2014.
- Arsenal have scored 3+ goals and kept a clean sheet in consecutive Premier League games for the first time since October 2015.
- Aubameyang has been directly involved in six of Arsenal's last nine goals in the Premier League (five goals and one assist).
- The Gunners have scored two penalty goals in a Premier League game for the first time since December 2012 (v West Brom).
Arsene Wenger (Arsenal): "It was a game I feel mentally first half we were not in the pace of the game, we were a bit sloppy, lacked cohesion. If you are mentally not at the races, you are in trouble. Because when you play against a team who wants to stay in the Premier League nowadays, you have a fight, and you have to be ready mentally for it."
Paul Lambert (Stoke): "I've just told the players that I've come here a few times and not played as well as that, even when I've won. The team was absolutely outstanding, we looked great throughout the game and looked a threat and before Arsenal scored we hit the post. Shaqiri's had a few chances and Badou (N'Diaye) has had a chance. I thought our general game was first class, and I thought we were really hard done by with the first penalty.
The pundit - Thierry Henry
Alexandre Lacazette changed the game. When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went on the left and Lacazette came on as a No 9, he started to make runs that a No 9 should make.
He started to be the guy that they were looking for to make those penetrative runs - and Aubameyang got his chance when he went on the left and made that run.
England World Cup watch
Stoke’s Jack Butland might have been beaten three times in the last 15 minutes, but he could have done little about the two penalties, nor Aubameyang’s excellent strike. Indeed, the goalkeeper enhanced his reputation with a string of fine saves, denying Mkhitaryan at his near post and Ozil from long range as well as rushing off his line to deny Aubameyang. He spilled a first-half ball, which presented Ramsey with a chance, but otherwise Gareth Southgate will have been impressed.
From an Arsenal perspective, Jack Wilshere played the full 90 minutes and captained the team after missing England’s fixtures through injury, but Danny Welbeck was disappointing in attack and was substituted on 61 minutes seemingly short of fitness.
Man of the Match: Aaron Ramsey
Arsenal took a long time to find their stride against a stubborn Stoke and the victory was ultimately built on the control and thrust offered by Aaron Ramsey in the middle of the park. Sky Sports expert Alan Smith said: "It was a bit of a messy contest, but I thought Aaron Ramsey kept his standards high, made good runs and led by example. He got into good positions."
Arsenal host CSKA Moscow in the quarter-final of the Europa League at the Emirates on Thursday evening before hosting Southampton in the Premier League, live on Sky Sports next Sunday. Stoke face another north London side next Saturday when Tottenham visit the bet365 Stadium.