Arsenal 3 Stoke City 0
Aubameyang 75 pen, 86, Lacazette 89 pen

Arsenal overcame a resilient Stoke City in Sunday’s lunchtime kick off at the Emirates, prevailing 3-0 courtesy of a late second half onslaught. Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s double, one from the penalty spot and substitute Alexandre Lacazette who also slotted home from the penalty spot when dumped over in the area by Badau N’Diaye eventually saw off a stubborn Stoke who put up an initial struggle in the fight for their Premier League lives. A largely unforgettable first half which saw both sides fail to get going almost had the deadlock broken when Aaron Ramsey clipped the bar following Jack Butland spilling the ball. Booed off at half time, the Gunners almost went a goal behind from Xherdan Shaquiri’s corner which flew over Ospina but hit the post.

Stoke keeper Jack Butland seemed to be in the right place to continually thwart all that Arsenal threw at him, but he was finally beaten when the Gunners were awarded a penalty. Bruno Martins Indi caught Mesut Özil’s foot as he was about pull the trigger. Aubameyang took the resultant penalty, slotting to Butland’s left. Arsenal stepped up their intensity which saw Lacazette go close. Then, from Ozil’s corner, Monreal flicked on and Aubameyang placed his low shot beyond Butland to double the lead.

That seemed to sap the visitors who were caught again when N’Diaye shoved the surging Lacazette in the area. Despite being on a hat trick, Aubameyang ceded possession to Lacazette and he struck an almost identical spot kick to Aubameyang’s with an identical result.

Three goals in the final fifteen minutes and Arsenal had the game won, but Arsene Wenger admitted that his side had been made to work for the victory, and despite the sparse crowd at the Emirates stadium, the Arsenal manager insisted that there will be a better turn out when the Gunners host CSKA Moscow in their Europa League first leg on Thursday.

” It’s just that we’re not fighting for the championship,” reasoned Wenger of the empty seats. “People know that will not change now. They will be back on Thursday, don’t worry.

“It’s explainable by the fact that it’s Easter. It’s a family happening where people go away and it’s a fact that we don’t think about a lot in the Premier League. There’s also the fact that we had a break,” said Wenger.

That they had been made to fight for the game was evident when Stoke continuously pressed high up and to good effect. Arsenal failed to string any semblance of a passing game. In fact after one such sequence of pressing, Shaquiri’s left footed curler almost gave the visitors the lead. David Ospina was relived to see the ball go wide of his upright.

Emerging for the second half, matters were marginally better, Elneny saw his effort blocked after a neat flowing move, and when Özil picked out Aubameyang, the Gabon striker was one one with Butland but his attempt at finesse when power was needed meant that Butland recovered. When Bruno Martins Indi clipped Ozil, referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot and Aubameyang struck the opener. Another save from the Stoke keeper soon after,but the pressure remained as Özil put over the resultant corner. Monreal headed back for Aubameyang to strike his fifth goal in six games.

With Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Lacazette joining Özil and Aubameyang, the potency and movement of the Gunners offensive line was difficult for Stoke to live with. Danny Welbeck and captain for the day Jack Wilshere made way and the Gunners raised their game.

N’Diaye who had a chance to levels at 1-1 after a cushioned header from substitute Peter Crouch pushed Lacazette, and anothe penalty was awarded. Aubameyang wasn’t interested in his hat trick, instead allowing the France striker to take the spot kick to give the Gunners a third with a well taken strike. Stoke may have fought until the end, but Arsenal emerged the victor with their fourth win on the bounce. They’ll look to inflict the same on CSKA Moscow arrive on Thursday.