Stoke City 1 Arsenal 4
Crouch 67, Giroud 42, 80, Özil 55, Alexis 70

Arsenal ripped apart Stoke City with a swagger of play which asked a pertinent question of their notorious hosts. Olivier Giroud’s double, one goal either side of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez strikes as Stoke had to retort to attempted strong arm tactics and a hand from Peter Crouch which briefly saw a 2-1 scoreline to the Gunners. Is that all you got ? Wenger’s side would have wondered as despite the noise from the partisan home crowd, all you could hear in the end were the voices from the travelling section. “ 4-1 to the football team,” they taunted their traditional long ball adversaries. Mark Hughes’ men had no idea, no direction and in the end no points as Arsenal inched to a within a point of fourth place.

Wenger was delighted to see his side record their third consecutive Premier League win.

” I’m pleased with the result of course, but I think we were a team who were dominant, had a good structure in the game, who were patient, intelligent and stuck together in a moment where Stoke tried to make it rough for us. There was a patch in the second half where we had to stick together on a few corners.

” I think in the first half we were dominant throughout the game but in the second half they made it a bit more physical. We had to find some resources and keep our nerves to continue with the desire to play. We did that well,” said the Arsenal manager.

Wenger was warmly applauded as he walked past the away supporters, but would not have concerned himself with another light aircraft banner declaring ‘ Out means Out,’ after all his side had just outclassed and outplayed Stoke.

Another three man defence and we saw the height of Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and the impressive Rob Holding command and hold their ranks. The only time they were breached, was illegally when Crouch struck out a hand to direct the ball past Petr Cech.

By that stage of the game, Giroud had tapped in his 15th goal of the season from Hector Bellerin’s cross for a 1-0 lead at the break and followed by a mesmerising sequence of link up play by Alexis and Ozil, for the latter to clip over Jack Butland to double the Gunners advantage.

On this form and in this mood, Ozil is brilliant. The key is how to get this consistency from the German who can drift when on field matters require clear heads and clear vision.

Despite the protestations of the Arsenal defence, neither Mike Dean nor his assistant saw the Crouch handle the ball, the deficit was therefore halved, and no doubt added more weight for a video review system to be installed in the Premier League.

Briefly buoyed with their side, the home crowd woke up. A succession of corners and a Diouf header went wide from five yards. The Gunners began to regroup and fire back with lethal force. Alexis was signalling for a change but presented with he ball at his feet from Bellerin, the Chilean striker surged and struck low, nutmegging Shawcross along the way and beyond Butland for Arsenal’s third goal.

Substitute Aaron Ramsey almost scored within minutes of arriving on the pitch, but the former Wales captain was the instigator moments later, holding off his marker to pull back for Giroud. Racing in, the France striker powerfully connected to bury in an Arsenal fourth and a delighted Wenger had deservedly won at one of his notoriously difficult venues.

Wenger would not be drawn on rumours of a one year deal, or whether this 4-1 win over Stoke had silenced his critics.

” I’m paid to do my job for a club I love. I will do that will full commitment for as long as I’m here. I’m not influenced by that at all. All I can do is do my best. We have 69 points today, so let’s make it 72 on Tuesday. After that, I will give my best for the values of the club and the club as long as I am here.

Wenger paid special tribute to his star striker Alexis who carried on despite picking up a thigh knock and his stunning strike.

” I didn’t plan to take him off, he asked to come off. First, I thought he had done a stomach muscle, so I thought that it would maybe go away again. I left him on for a little bit to see how he responded. After that, he stayed on and scored another goal. That’s Alexis, he’s a fighter who always finds resources. He delivered the third goal which made the difference,” said Wenger who said he had more than an inkling that Crouch had handled the ball.

” I was suspicious about the noise of the ball. I went to the fourth official because it had been confirmed. I was surprised that he got to the ball when I saw his position. People told me it was handball.”