Arsenal 3-0 Stoke City: Victory pushes sorry Potters towards relegation
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette added to Stoke’s Premier League woes as Arsenal recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory on Sunday.
With so little to play for at the Emirates for the Gunners, they failed to hit their stride early on and were deservedly met by boos from the home supporters at the half-time whistle.
But Arsenal soon found their attacking spark in the second half and went ahead via an Aubameyang spot-kick, before he doubled his tally just four minutes from the end.
Stoke tired quickly in the latter stages and it showed as the returning Lacazette added insult to injury from 12 yards out just before stoppage time.
Arsenal went into the match 13 points behind fourth-placed rivals Tottenham and it showed against a team fighting for their lives in the Premier League.
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Paul Lambert’s side started the match on the front foot and Swiss dangerman Xherdan Shaqiri nearly opened the scoring in the opening stages, curling a left-footed effort just wide of David Ospina’s right post.
But despite suffering an international break hangover, Arsenal came closest to scoring next on 23 minutes when Aaron Ramsey pounced on a loose ball to clip the top of the crossbar after Hector Bellerin’s cross eventually found its way into the penalty area.
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With so little to play for ahead of the Europa League quarter-final with CSKA, Arsenal failed to show any real form of threat following this open and went into the break without Jack Butland having to make a save.
The mood inevitably at the Emirates was tense and the half-time whistle was met by loud boos from the Emirates faithful who made the short trip to watch this pretty drab affair.
The hosts immediately stepped up the intensity in the second half and went close to scoring twice in the in the first 15 minutes.
Danny Welbeck saw his volley drag just wide of the post just moments before Badou Ndiaye made a goal-saving block to deny Mohamed Elneny.
Arsenal were on the up and the loudest cheer of the game came when Lacazette, who hasn’t featured since February 10, was brought on in place for Welbeck.
The substitution provided Arsenal with a real spark and Stoke’s defence started to stretch. Aubameyang, who drifted out to the left, wasted a golden opportunity after hitting his one-on-one straight at England goalkeeper Butland.
But luckily for the £55million striker, he wasn’t to be denied moments later. The former Borussia Dortmund man struck home an emphatic penalty into the corner of the net in the 76th minute after Mesut Ozil was brought down by Bruno Martins Indi.
And Arsenal ended up punishing the Potters in ruthless fashion, with Aubameyang netting late on, drilling home past Butland after being unmarked in the penalty area.
Lacazette then received his Easter present, scoring the third and final goal of the game from the penalty spot with just one minute of normal time remaining after Ndiaye barged into the back of the French striker.
The first 75 lacked any excitement for Arsenal but the last 15 more than made up for it. And the Gunners faithful took the opportunity to taunt their travelling foes during the closing stages, chanting ‘You’re going down’ at full volume.
Arsenal now go into the game against CSKA, their biggest match of the season, having won back-to-back Premier league games for the first time since November.