Sunday, September 22, 2013

Gunners Go Top: Arsenal 3 - Stoke City 1

At least for the time being, Arsenal sit atop the Premier League table (and will stay there if Tottenham don't beat Cardiff later today by more than two goals). It was a fairly workmanlike performance by the Gunners today; they did not dazzle, but they got the job done. Emblematic of that effort was Mesut Ozil, making his home debut for Arsenal. His passing and movement were not quite as sharp as in his earlier performances away from home, but he nevertheless assisted on each of Arsenal's three goals, all of which came off of set pieces. Ramsey, too, seemed a bit off the boil, but still scored Arsenal's first goal of the match. The defense were solid for most of the game, though Stoke frankly didn't create many good chances, despite having a good deal of possession in the second half. Mathieu Flamini was outstanding for the Gunners in his role as holding midfielder. His work rate was excellent, and he made several timely interventions in the defensive third. Eighteen-year-old Serge Gnaby made his first appearance in the starting line-up for Arsenal, as a late substitute for Theo Walcott, who picked up a slight injury in warm-ups. The young German gave a solid performance, showing strength in possession, and working back very well on defense. He even put in a decent shot on goal.

All in all, a solid performance from a team that looks increasingly likely to fulfill its manager's promise of really competing for silverware this season.

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