Giroud scores twice, Sanchez and Ozil star as Arsenal boost UCL hopes

Arsenal won comfortably at Stoke to crank up the pressure on Liverpool ahead of their trip to West Ham on Sunday. This is traditionally an awkward fixture for the Gunners, but Arsene Wenger’s men showed steel and skill to record just their second win at Stoke of the Premier League era.

Olivier Giroud started and finished the scoring, book-ending strikes from Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Stoke’s only goal ought to have been disallowed; Peter Crouch used his hand to steer the ball into the net.

Positives

Arsenal’s new 3-4-2-1 formation continues to look remarkably solid and it’s startling what a difference adding a third centre-back has made. Suddenly the defence has tightened up and the whole team looks more confident as a result.

It was also heartening to see Ozil and Sanchez combine as thrillingly as they did in the early part of the season. There are gifted players in this Arsenal team and now have a solid enough platform to show of what they’re capable.

Negatives

It’s difficult to see a negative in any aspect of the performance. The one concern will be the injury to Sanchez, who was substituted with what looked to be a thigh problem. The Chilean forward is utterly essential to Arsenal’s hopes of ending the season on a high.

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