Van Persie guns down Stoke
Arsenal climb above the Potters into seventh
Last Updated: October 23, 2011 5:58pm
Supersub Robin van Persie came off the bench to score twice and earn Arsenal a 3-1 win over Premier League rivals Stoke.
The Gunners struggled to break down the organised visitors in a frustrating first half which saw ex-Spurs man Peter Crouch cancel out Gervinho's opener.
But the introduction of talisman Van Persie, who took his Arsenal goals tally to 30 in 2011, completely changed the complexion of the Emirates clash.
Arsenal lacked a real presence in the final third of the pitch until he replaced the ineffective Marouane Chamakh and bagged a nine-minute brace.
The victory, a fourth straight home league win for Arsene Wenger's team, helped them climb above their opponents and into seventh place in the table.
It was hardly a convincing performance from Arsenal, and yet a sixth win in their last seven matches is not exactly the record of a club supposedly in crisis not so long ago.
In Van Persie's absence, Chamakh got a chance to impress, and he should have given Arsenal the lead in the 10th minute with a free header from Mikel Arteta's corner but made a mess of his effort which flew wide.
Arteta fired a low drive narrowly wide and Gervinho just failed to control Aaron Ramsey's lofted ball into the area as the hosts warmed to their task.
In the 23rd minute Ramsey almost repeated his midweek heroics in Marseille with a fierce drive which fizzed just wide.
The goal Arsenal had been threatening arrived in the 27th minute, with Ramsey the architect.
The Wales international, who had his leg broken by Stoke's Ryan Shawcross 18 months ago, collected a half-clearance from the Potters defender and chipped it back into the area.
Gervinho's chest control this time was perfect, creating the angle for him to beat the diving Asmir Begovic from 12 yards for his second goal since joining the club.
But Stoke grabbed a shock leveller seven minutes later from a disputed free-kick after Laurent Koscielny was adjudged to have fouled Crouch.
As Wenger protested to fourth official Jon Moss, Glenn Whelan lofted the ball into the area, Shawcross' cross found its way to Jon Walters at the far post and his header back across goal was nodded in by Crouch.
Arsenal began the second half sluggishly, with the biggest stir caused by Van Persie when he began to warm up on the touchline.
Chamakh passed up another half-chance with an overhead kick which drifted wide following a goalmouth scramble.
The change was inevitable and Van Persie finally made his entrance with 25 minutes remaining, replacing Chamakh.
The Dutchman almost made an immediate impact with a neat turn and a cross which flew just over the head of Ramsey.
But it took only eight minutes for the new arrival to get Arsenal back on track.
Gervinho beat Walters to reach the byline and pulled the ball back for new strike partner Van Persie, who squeezed the ball between Begovic and his near post.And Van Persie had the final say with six minutes to go, Gervinho again the provider with a low cross which the in-form Holland star fired past Begovic to kill Stoke off.
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Stoke City|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|4||Shots on Target||1|
|5||Shots off Target||5|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|