Arsenal 3 Stoke City 1

What was that phrase about being aware of cheap imitations? Like it or not, Arsene Wenger has tried that formula in the past, only to eventually come up short. In his desire to give Robin Van Persie a rest, Wenger put out a team capable of getting a result against Stoke at the Emirates on Sunday, but the real deal Dutchman had to eventually be called upon from the substitutes bench to put this game definitively beyond a typically physical if at times close to the wire visitors. Gervinho netted his first home goal of the season, and then Peter Crouch threatened to undo much good Arsenal work with a shock leveller. That was until the 66th minute and the introduction of Van Persie which was to settle the game for the Gunners.

Wenger wish

In his programme notes Wenger had called for another victory, and having taken the lead the game indicated that Wenger and the Arsenal fans would get their wish. Aaron Ramsey continues to grow and that confidence created a few openings that Theo Walcott and Gervinho almost profited from. Marouane Chamakh has been a player in desperate need to find form, but his free header wide from Mikel Arteta’s corner just summed up his wretched current form. Still despite some more of the rough stuff from Stoke, he and his team mates soldiered on.

Wing play

Arteta saw a well struck effort go wide from 25 yards and the moment of the half was to see Walcott zip past Marc Wilson as if he wasn’t there. The momentum was building and Ramsey almost netted after some good wing play from Gervinho, and then on 27 minutes and a role reversal, the Ivory Coast forward found the target.

Impeded

Stoke were content to defend in depth , but Ramsey’s deftly flighted pass fell just right for Gervinho to fire in with his left foot. But this Arsenal are capable of undoing all their hard work at a stroke and so that proved to be the case on 34 minutes. Laurent Koscielny was cruelly adjudged to have impeded Crouch and the beenpole striker prodded home from the free kick as the Arsenal defence looked on.

Stoke bus

A minute later and Arsenal were denied a nailed on penalty. Andy Wilkinson was all over Chamakh, but referee Lee Mason gave no spot kick. Replays suggested that he got that decision horribly wrong. Stoke’s spoiling tactics continued with sly blocks and off the ball nudges that were not spotted. Their bus was well and truly parked, but the introduction of Van Persie the masstro on 66 minutes would change all that.

Instinctive

Ryan Shawcross heard loud boos every time he touched the ball and he had more than an elbow on Van Persie’s head which again Mason failed to see. With the Gunners in the ascendency, Gervinho sped away and his cross from the right was perfect for Van Persie’s instinctive strike to squirm under the desperate dive of Asmir Begovic. Nine minutes before time the Emirates faithful roared in delight as, Van Persie had his second and Arsenal’s third.

Maligned Arshavin

The much maligned Andrey Arshavin looks to be up to proving his critics wrong. He showed some defensive capabilities, and offensively he was on fire. Running, chasing and supporting the attack, Arshavin fed Gervinho, this time on the left. Another cross and another goal from that supreme marksman Van Persie beyond the dive of Begovic. The Gunners then turned on the ole football and could have got a fourth and that too would have been deserved.

Gratitude

The win sets Arsenal up to 7th in the table and another win and another step on the road to gaining further confidence. For all that is good about football, it was vital that Arsenal saw off Stoke. That they did was in gratitude to the one and only Van Persie.