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Premier League

  • 23 October 2011
  • • 13:30
  • • Emirates Stadium, London
  • Referee: L. Mason
  • • Attendance: 59671

Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City: Robin van Persie comes off the bench to save Gunners as late double stuns Potters

Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City: Robin van Persie comes off the bench to save Gunners as late double stuns Potters

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The introduction of the in-form Netherlands international changed the game for the home side after a display that showed drastic impotency in the absence of their captain

It took the introduction of Robin van Persie for Arsenal to kill off an initially resilient Stoke City side as the hosts won 3-1 in their Premier League encounter at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.

Gervinho opened the scoring after excellent work by Aaron Ramsey, though Peter Crouch bundled home an equaliser before the interval.

Arsenal came up short in the ideas department, before Van Persie was brought on and chalked up a quickfire brace after some smart play down the wing by Gervinho on both occasions.

It was a game that served to perpetuate several popular Arsenal stereotypes, most notably a marked listlessness without captain Van Persie, though the Gunners' revival continues after the ground-out win.

The one surprise on the team sheet was the relegation to the bench of Van Persie, perhaps with the forthcoming match with Chelsea on Arsene Wenger’s mind. Marouane Chamakh was drafted in to replace the Gunners’ top scorer, with Alex Song laying claim to the captain’s armband.

The visitors made one change from the last Premier League encounter, with Dean Whitehead replacing Jermaine Pennant after the winger failed to recover from the hamstring troubles that also saw him miss the Europa League tie with Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

It was Chamakh who had the first opportunity to open the scoring yet after being found free in the box by a Mikel Arteta corner, the Moroccan unconvincingly glanced his header wide.

Gervinho’s heavy touch let him down when through on goal after Ramsey’s pass prized open the Stoke defence, though the Ivorian made no mistake in a similar incident a few minutes on, collecting the Welshman’s delightfully scooped pass on his chest, before rifling past Asmir Begovic from close range.

After almost exclusively being camped in their own half for the entirety of the match, Stoke managed to plunder an equaliser, with Andre Santos caught napping by a quickly taken free kick, allowing Crouch to see home Jonathan Walters’ nod across goal.

It took the Gunners a long time to regain stability after conceding, with Wenger’s side markedly reeling before Arteta’s cross eluded Chamakh by the narrowest of margins on the stroke of half-time.

Intrigue was hard to come by as the teams re-emerged, with both sides looking jaded as they pressed for a goal which could decide the encounter. Arsenal controlled possession but genuine incision up top was at a premium in the absence of Van Persie.

The introduction of the Dutchman sparked some life into the hosts though Stoke’s resilience made things increasingly difficult for the Gunners, as the Emirates crowd began to palpably agitate.

Such fears were allayed though, when Gervinho bundled his way along the byline to centre for Van Persie, who tucked an effort into the near post, with Begovic unable to keep the ball out despite getting behind the ball.

The same partnership linked up again to deliver the killer blow to Stoke, as Gervinho cut down the opposite flank to cut back for Van Persie, who yet again did just enough to force the ball beyond Begovic.

With that, the game was over, as Arsenal cantered home to climb up to seventh in the Premier League table.

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