Little Arshavin cuts Potters down to size

Arsenal 2 Stoke City 0

The storm clouds that had begun to gather over the Emirates were blown away by an Arsenal side inspired by the brilliant Andrey Arshavin and a victory that was more emphatic than the scoreline suggests. The two managers shook hands at the end, but for the visitors there was a collective shaking of heads.

Successive 3-0 defeats, most notably last Sunday's against Chelsea, had threatened to derail Arsenal's season but there was enough quality on show in Arsène Wenger's 500th League game in charge for the manager to enjoy his landmark day at the end of a difficult week. Arshavin's exquisite finish in the first half should have signalled a rout but the Gunners had to wait until substitute Aaron Ramsey's equally fine effort 11 minutes from the end to seal the points.

Wenger, his feud with Mark Hughes now filed away, was delighted: "After the disappointments against Sunderland and Chelsea there is some relief for the team," he said, again playing down the Carling Cup's importance after the loss at City. "If we hadn't won there may have been questions that mentally we were touched by it. So yes, it was an important win."

There were only three starters from the trip to Eastlands, but still there were concerns about Arsenal's firepower. The addition of Eduardo – missing yesterday with a muscle strain – to an injured list containing Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner, initially offered little encouragement to a subdued home support.

This left the tiny Arshavin to forage alone against Stoke's giant centre-backs, a contest that might have favoured Tony Pulis's men but the Russian proved a threat from the off.

Cesc Fabregas, sparkling in his 250th game for the club, provided him with an opening after three minutes but unusually Arshavin's first touch was heavy, allowing Thomas Sorensen to save. Sorensen also stopped Samir Nasri's close-range shot after Arshavin's reverse pass.

Stoke already knew the scale of their task here yet some erratic goalkeeping from Manuel Almunia in the early stages, not least from Rory Delap's long throws, offered some hope.

Arsenal lost their foothold briefly and then squandered an invitation to regain it when Fabregas's penalty was saved by Sorensen after 20 minutes. Delap had tripped Arshavin but the Spaniard's spot-kick was saved low to Sorensen's left.

Arshavin shot wildly from a pass by Tomas Rosicky – who picked up a groin injury – but his next effort broke the deadlock. A one-two with Fabregas saw Arshavin in possession with just Andy Wilkinson on his shoulder and before the left-back could intercept, the striker had pulled the trigger and deposited the ball into the far corner of Sorensen's net.

Arsenal should have doubled their lead when Fabregas's shot from Armand Traoré's cross struck Emmanuel Eboué, who had just moved away from the Stoke goalline.

As if their opponents' football was not posing Stoke enough problems, their offside trap was comfortably repelling most forays by the Potters, and Tuncay was caught out so many times he should have been presented with an assistant's flag. On the one rare occasion the Turk managed to stay on, Williams Gallas blocked his shot.

The Emirates demanded a second but Arshavin's effort flew up off Abdoulaye Faye's foot to hit the bar and Thomas Vermaelen's header went wide. At last, though, Ramsey eased the nerves. Not long on for Eboué, the Wales international finished superbly with the outside of his right boot from the edge of the area after a one-two with Arshavin.

"They may have started to get a bit uptight but the timing of the second goal was just right for them," said Pulis. "Arshavin was brilliant. His movement was excellent and he caused us problems all day. We were a bit in awe."

Attendance: 60,048

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Man of the match: Arshavin

Match rating: 7/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind"

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album