Arsenal cruised to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Stoke City at the Emirate Stadium with Mesut Ozil, who was making his first home debut, providing all of the ‘Gunners’’ goals.
Arsene Wenger introduced Germany international Serge Gnabry for the ill (pelvic/ abdominal problem) Theo Walcott but retained the other members from the squad that beat Olympique Marseille midweek, while Nikolas Bendtner and Mikael Arteta were recalled to the bench.
The only change made to the Stoke side which held Manchester City to a scoreless draw last week was the introduction of new signing Marko Arnautovic for Matthew Etherington.
Welshman Aaron Ramsey continued his terrific show of goal-scoring form by placing the hosts in the lead five minutes after kickoff. The midfielder has now scored seven times in his last eight games.
USA international Geoff Cameron stunned the home crowd when he drew level with his first goal for his new club before Per Mertesacker put the Gunners back in front in front of the 60,000 supporters gathered at the Emirates.
Frenchman Bacary Sagna completed scoring for Wengers’ men, who has now climbed to the top of the Barclays Premier League table on 12 points from five matches.
Arsenal commanded much of the first-half play, following Ramsey’s opener. Ramsey fired a low shot past goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who was duly punished for palming away an Ozil free-kick in the path of the Wales midfielder.
Stoke recovered from a poor start and scored the equaliser few minutes after Kieran Gibbs had wasted an individual effort in front of the visitors’ goal area.
Australian Arnautovic ran off the back of Mertesacker and volleyed against the woodwork and, Cameron was in hand to fire between two defenders and beyond Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal came pressing for a second goal when Mertesacker leaned into a near post header from a corner, but his glancing effort was cleared by Eric Peters with Begovic out of sight.
The German defender succeeded in placing the hosts in the ascendancy few minutes after missing his previous attempt. He looped into the far corner of the post a muscular header after Laurient Koscielny had distracted Begovic nine minutes before the interval.
Wenger’s men left for the half-time team talk with a one goal advantage but at the start of the second-half, Stoke got off the better side.
Ozil then fluffed a goal-scoring opportunity in the 68th minute following flick-ons by Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere after a long goal-kick from Szczesny.
The visitors maintained possession and territory in the final 20 minutes but failed to create clear-cut chances.
They were paid for their lack of goal incentives when Sagna leaped highest to meet an Ozil free-kick at the far post and then headed home past Begovic.
Stoke struggled to force their way back into the game and aside from a Stephen Ireland’s volley over the top apart, they still couldn’t have a clear sight at goal.
Arsenal almost crafted a fourth goal when Giroud played in Ramsey, but the Welshman’s powerful effort from tight angle fizzed over the top. 3-1 it ended as Arsenal climbed top of the log.