Robin Van Persie’s double ensured Arsenal end the season in winning ways, easily dispatching Stoke side who looked desperately out of their depth.
Support for Arsene Wenger rang around the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal finished the season on a flourish. Not only were the fans creating much noise the banners had a touch of sophistication about them; an accent over the E in Arsène Wenger showed just how much the Frenchman means to the Arsenal faithful. And a comfortable win over Stoke City meant the Gunners could enter next season with a justified sense of optimism.
It was a Stoke side who looked out of their depth apart from goalscorer Ricardo Fuller and goalkeeper but you can only defeat what’s in front of you. Denilson, who’s statistics should have meant ending the season with at least the club player of the year brought down Fuller but the Brazilian had another strong game. Positionally sound in a game where Arsenal committed numbers forward such was the space afforded by Stoke, the minor blemish was a bit of inexperience when sticking his foot out for the penalty.
Arsenal’s two main men, Van Persie and Fabregas combined to set-up the first goal, an own goal by James Beattie as the latter’s cross-shot was helped in. The pair have set up 21 goals this season, the Dutchman ensured his position at number one in the assists chart after setting up the second. Abou Diaby rose for a header to effectively end the game. The midfielder had a mixed game; some good runs cancelled out by bad decision making.
Wenger’s team selection seemed to be one of experiment and learning for next season; Van Persie playing the lone furrow which may be his position next season, Arshavin on the left (who still needs work though it seems he is not enjoying it) while Diaby got his chance in the centre. Bendtner came on on the right and his link up play, close control and decision making is improving. The movement from the whole team was better as when Van Persie dropped off, there was urgency to get beyond him which was missing at Old Trafford.
Van Persie then completed the rout, first with a penalty after he had been brought down and then taking advantage of a bad header by Delap to expertly volley home. Stoke can hold their head’s up high after a season of over-performance but the second half was anything but that as they mentally tired as well as physically, never leaving their own half. It was an impressive win from Arsenal but the number one priority should be balancing the squad rather than the checkbook which should see the Gunners compete far stronger next year.
Man of the match: Robin Van Persie
Arsenal: Mannone (7), Sagna (7) (Eboue 57), Toure (7), Song Billong (7), Gibbs (7), Diaby (6), Fabregas (8), Denilson (8), Arshavin (6) (Vela 71), van Persie (8)*, Walcott (7) (Bendtner 46).
Subs Not Used: Szczesny, Ramsey, Silvestre, Djourou.
Goals: Beattie 10 og, van Persie 16 pen, Diaby 18, van Persie 41.
Stoke: Simonsen (Sorensen 21), Wilkinson, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Dickinson, Lawrence, Diao (Pugh 64), Whelan, Delap, Beattie, Fuller (Cresswell 69).
Subs Not Used: Olofinjana, Kelly, Tonge, Sonko.
Goals: Fuller 31 pen.
Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Stoke City|
|4||1st Half Goals||1|
|9||Shots on Target||2|
|14||Shots off Target||2|