Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace sees Arsenal home safely against Stoke

Arsenal 3 Stoke 0: The Gabon international scored twice in the final 15 minutes before substitute Alexandre Lacazette added a third from the spot

Jon West
Emirates Stadium
Sunday 01 April 2018 15:22
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice as Arsenal eventually saw off Stoke
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice as Arsenal eventually saw off Stoke

Two late goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang enabled an Arsenal side that all too obviously had Thursday's Europa League clash with CSKA Moscow on its mind to see off opponents who have simply forgotten how to win.

Substitute Alexandre Lacazette was also on the scoresheet in a defeat that pushes the second-bottom Potters, who have tasted victory just once since Christmas, closer to relegation.

The Arsenal starting line-up really did have the look of 'saving a few for Thursday' about it, with Petr Cech, nursing a groin problem. absent and Laurent Koscielny, niggled by Achilles trouble, on the bench. Indeed, this was the first Premier League this season that kicked off without Cech and midfielder Granit Xhaka.

It was a cagey affair until late on

Stoke's team had an air of desparation about it as Paul Lambert frantically searched for any sort of formula to get them out of the bottom three. Ibrahim Afellay has been told to stay away from the club following one lacklustre training session too many but Erik Pieters was back after missing the last match because he had gone clubbing, albeit around £70,000 lighter in his pocket.

Stoke's greater need for three points manifested itself in the first near miss of the game. Mame Biram Diouf laid the ball back to Xherdan Shaqiri, who shifted the ball on to his preferred left foot and curled it inches wide of David Ospina's right-hand post.

The Potters continued to dominate as Arsenal passes went astray, but a ball into the box aimed at the diminutive Shaqiri would have been better suited for Peter Crouch, watching from the bench.

Shaqiri was much happier with the ball at his feet and it toom a good tackle from Shkodran Mustafi to half a direct run.

Ozil was adjudged to have been felled in the box

Arsenal's carelessness was underlined by Aaron Ramsey over-running the ball and then taking Badou Ndiaye out after Wilshere had gifted away possession once again.

It took the Gunners an age to shake off the Sunday slumbers but when they did it almost resulted in the opening goal.

England's Jack Butland won't want reminding of the feebleness of his punch under pressure from Wilshere. It just about cleared the six-yard box. where Ramsey was able to hook it over the keeper and on to the top of the crossbar.

Ramsey saw another effort deflected behind before Hector Bellerin's attempt at a Marco van Basten worldy saw the ball disappear into the crowd.

Aubameyang dispatched is first

Mohamed Elneny did his best to raise the tepid temperature with a late challenge on Joe Allen to earn the game's first booking but the half-time whistle was a welcome relief for all.

Neither side made changes for a second half that began with Danny Welbeck lashing a passable chance wide, Elneny seeing an effort blocked and Nacho Monreal forcing Butland into a diving save.

That was the cue for both sides to swap forwards on the hour mark with the fit-again Alexandre Lacazette coming on for Welbeck and Diouf, having taken a knock, replaced by Saido Berahino, 35 hours of action without a goal and still counting.

Shaqiri had been quiet but curled a right-footer straight at Ospina from an decent position - and then saw a corner deceive the keeper but bounce off his back post. It was to prove Stoke's final moment of menace and their doom was not long in arriving at the other end.

Lacazette added a third from a second late penalty

Butland did well to deny Aubameyang but Stoke then imploded by giving away two penalties either side of a sloppy second goal.

Bruno Indi Martins conceded the first with a challenge from behind on Ozil and Aubameyang made no mistake from the spot. Poor marking gifted the striker a second and substitute Lacazette was allowed to convert the final spot-kick a minute from time after Badou Ndiaye had bundled him over.

Arsenal (4-3-3): Ospina 6; Bellerin 7, Chambers 7, Mustafi 9, Monreal 7; Elneny 5 (Xhaka 75), Wilshere 6 (Mkhitaryan 75), Ramsey 6; Ozil 6, Welbeck 5 (Lacazette 61, 7), Aubameyang 7. Subs: Macey, Koscielny, Kolasinac Iwobi.

Stoke City (4-3-3): Butland 5; Johnson 6, Shawcross 7, Martins Indi 7, Pieters 7; Bauer 6, Ndiaye 6, Allen 6; Sobhi 6 (Crouch), Diouf 6 (Berahino 61), Shaqiri 8. Subs: Ireland, Cameron, Haugaard, Campbell, Sorenson.

Referee: C Pawson (South Yorkshire) 7

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