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Arsenal 2 Stoke 0: Walcott and Giroud net as Gunners win

Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud grabbed the goals as Arsenal registered their first home win of the season with a 2-0 victory over Stoke City.

The Gunners dropped points against West Ham and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium earlier in the campaign but made no mistake in what was a comfortable afternoon against Mark Hughes’ side.

The hosts created a number of chances in the opening stages, but initially struggled to find a way past impressive Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland.

Yet there was nothing Butland could do about Walcott’s strike just after the half-hour mark after a fine pass from Mesut Ozil.

The FA Cup holders created numerous chances to double their lead, but sloppy finishing kept Stoke’s chances alive until Giroud made it 2-0 with five minutes to go.

The victory takes Arsenal up to second in the table with 10 points from five games, while winless Stoke slip to the bottom.

Arsene Wenger’s men pushed forward from the off and Alexis Sanchez came close to gifting the hosts the lead after three minutes. Santi Cazorla set up the former Barcelona forward with a fine cross, but the Chile international’s header was kept out by Butland.  

Sanchez threatened again shortly after when he tried his luck with an opportunistic long-range strike, but his attempt struck the post and bounced to safety.  

Arsenal kept on pushing for an opener with Walcott angering his team-mates in the 11th minute when he unleashed a shot from a narrow angle rather than set up one of his fellow attackers.  

Stoke caused the Arsenal defence problems for the first time when Xherdan Shaqiri fired in a dangerous free-kick but Petr Cech rushed off his line to push the ball clear.  

Butland was called into action once more midway through the first half, but the 22-year-old showed his class with another fine save to deny Cazorla. 

Walcott finally got the better of the Stoke goalkeeper after 31 minutes, though. Ozil set up the England international with a sublime through ball and Walcott coolly slotted home.

Stoke made a lively start to the second half with Shaqiri trying to set up Marko Arnautovic, but the Austria international just failed to pick up the pass in a dangerous position.

A sublime attack involving Sanchez, Ozil and Aaron Ramsey should have resulted in Arsenal’s second goal but Wales international Ramsey aimed too high and the chance went begging.

Stoke again escaped when full-back Phil Bardsley nearly put a cross from Ozil into his own net but the ball flashed just wide of the goal and out for a corner.

Arsenal continued to create chance after chance, yet poor finishing from Walcott and substitute Giroud kept the away side in the game.

Stoke’s fortune ran out, however, after 85 minutes when Giroud headed home Cazorla’s free-kick to settle matters.

Sat 12 Sep, 2015
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