Gunners get back on track
Arshavin and Ramsey on the mark to fire Arsenal to victory
Last Updated: 05/12/09 6:03pm
The Russian is coming: Andrey Arshavin gives Arsenal the lead against Stoke
Arsenal put their miserable week behind them with a 2-0 victory over Stoke City.
Battered into submission by Didier Drogba's Chelsea in the Premier League and comprehensively beaten by Manchester City in the Carling Cup, a depleted Gunners got back to winning ways.
They went ahead courtesy of Andrey Arshavin's 26th minute strike and wrapped up the points when substitute Aaron Ramsey ran through to shoot past Thomas Sorensen.
As ever Arsenal could have won more comprehensively but a missed Cesc Fabregas penalty was indicative of a game in which the hosts wasted a number of great chances.
Arshavin could easily have had four or five but was denied by some poor touches, fine goalkeeping by Sorensen and some heroic last-ditch defending by Abdoulaye Faye and Andy Wilkinson.
Stoke were always in the game at 1-0 but rarely tested Manuel Almunia in the Arsenal goal before Ramsey finally killed the Potters off 11 minutes from time. The result also saw the Gunners leapfrog Tottenham into third place.
With Robin van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott out injured, Arsene Wenger's options up front were further reduced by the late withdrawal of Eduardo, who was left out with a "minor muscular problem".
Arshavin spearheaded the Gunners attack and started brightly but was denied early on by Sorensen who came out to block the Russian's shot.
Stoke's first meaningful attack came eight minutes in when Manuel Almunia had to come out and punch away one of Delap's trademark long throws.
Delap's throws were the Potters' main attacking option and Almunia looked nervous as he struggled to deal with the defender's third throw of the game 11 minutes in.
Arsenal were given a golden chance to take the lead in the 20th minute when Arshavin was tripped by Delap in the box and referee Mark Clattenburg pointed to the spot.
Fabregas stepped up to take the penalty but Sorensen stretched to his left to palm the ball around the post.
Six minutes later, Arshavin made amends by slotting the ball home from a Fabregas pass to pick up his seventh of the season and give Arsenal the lead.
They then came agonisingly close to doubling their lead straight after the goal. Armand Traore slipped in Fabregas, whose shot rebounded off Faye onto the post. The ball then fell back to the Spaniard, who lashed the ball towards goal only for Emmanuel Eboue to accidentally block the ball on the Stoke line.
Arsenal felt they should have had a second penalty on the stroke of half-time when Samir Nasri's pass brushed Faye's hand but Clattenburg waved away the Gunners' appeals.
Wenger had accused Stoke of deliberately attempting to injure his players during the fixture between the two at the Britannia Stadium last year and the Potters maintained their physical approach in the second half.
Wilkinson was lucky to escape a booking after his late challenge on Thomas Vermaelen two minutes after the break.
Arshavin, who continued as Arsenal's lone striker despite Carlos Vela's introduction, continued to pose a threat and forced Sorensen into a fine save shortly after.
Ramsey replaced Eboue, who hobbled off and went down the tunnel with an injury.
Tuncay then broke the offside trip to latch onto Liam Lawrence's long ball down field but he lacked pace and composure, allowing William Gallas to track back and block the striker's shot.
Arshavin was unlucky not to add his second when his shot was deflected onto the bar by Stoke captain Faye.
The home crowd sensed the Gunners needed a second and it came with 11 minutes left when Ramsey picked the ball up on the edge of the box, jinked inside and calmly stroked the ball past Sorensen.
Fabregas and Arshavin both had chances towards the end for the Gunners while Gallas finished the match hobbling with what looked like a thigh injury.
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Stoke City|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||3|
|6||Shots off Target||1|
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Ham United||26||39|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||26||27|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||26||22|