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Friday, 8 February 2013

Podolski strike seals win over Stoke

Arsenal had to battle to gain all three points against a resurgent Stoke side on Saturday afternoon as a single goal from Lukas Podolski was enough to seal a hard fought victory. It was a frustrating game as the Gunners failed to create many clear cut opportunities due to the tight Stoke defence and Begovic pulling off some great saves in goal. This meant that Arsenal had to bide their time and be patient in their build up but they eventually got the goal they deserved, although it may have been rather fortuitous. It was a vital win that saw Arsenal put more pressure on the teams bidding for a top four place as both Everton and Chelsea dropped points. There were a few changes from the team that beat Liverpool in the week as Nacho Monreal made his debut at left back, having signed from Malaga on deadline day. Meanwhile Arteta returned from injury and Oxlade-Chamberlain started. Cazorla and Podolski were both named on the bench.
Nacho Monreal made his debut as Arsenal beat Stoke
The first shot on goal came on 13 minutes as Jonathon Walters hit an optimistic effort from outside the box but Szczesny was equal to it and made a simple save.

The Gunners first chance came through Diaby on the right hand side as he crossed towards the near post but Giroud couldn't direct the header.

Just after the half hour mark Oxlade-Chamberlain was denied brilliantly by Begovic. Wilshere's corner came all the way to Chamberlain at the back post who from close range some how saw his shot saved.

From the resulting corner they almost scored again as Walcott delivered at the second attempt into Koscielny but Begovic was there once more.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was then to come close again as Wilshere slipped him in but Begovic did enough to tip it wide of the post.

The score at half time was 0-0.

Arsenal came the closest early on in the second half as Monreal linked up well with Wilshere before crossing towards Giroud. However Huth was in the way to deny the Frenchman making contact with the ball.

Shortly after, Giroud got a more clear cut opportunity as he linked up with Wilshere before blazing over the bar.

Most of the chances were falling Arsenal's way and Giroud was then presented with another one as he got on the end of Cazorla's cross but his looping header bounced wide.

With just under 15 minutes left, the Gunners finally took the lead and it came from a set-piece. Podolski was the man who grabbed the goal as his free-kick found the back of the net via a big deflection.

It was then almost 2-0 as Cazorla skipped around the Stoke defence before baring down on goal and firing over the bar. 

The final score finished Arsenal 1-0 Stoke:

The teams lineups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Diaby(68), Wilshere, Arteta, Walcott(90), Oxlade-Chamberlain(68), Giroud.
Subs: Mannone, Jenkinson, Santos, Ramsey(90), Rosicky, Cazorla(68), Podolski(68).

Stoke: Begovic, Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Wilkinson, Cameron(84), Etherington, Whelan, Nzonzi, Walters(84), Crouch(84). 
Subs: Sorenson, Kightly, Whitehead, Adam, Owen(84), Jones(84), Jerome(84). 

My man of the match: Mikel Arteta

Referee: Chris Foy
Attendance: 59,872

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