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October 23, 2011
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: L. Mason
• Attendance: 59671
Y. Gervinho 27'
R. van Persie 73', 82'
P. Crouch 34'
90' + 4'
FULL TIME! The introduction of captain Robin Van Persie is enough to seal the three points for the Gunners. Stoke battled well throughout but couldn't cope with the host's and the Dutchman's class in the end.
90' + 2'
Arshavin tries to weave his way past roughly 6 Stoke defenders but is bodychecked (fairly) at the edge of the area. Ambitious dribble from the Russian.
90' + 1'
The Ivorian's reward for his efforts today is an impressive ovation as he is substituted for Emmanuel Frimpong.
A brilliant Begovic save denies Gervinho whose shot across goal from a tight angle goes out for a corner.
Arshavin's attempted crossfield looping pass almost finds Gervinho's back post run but is collected by a grateful Begovic.
Arsenal continuing to keep possession as Stoke chase somewhat aimlessly.
Stoke pushing hard now but a Kenwyne Jones shot is blocked after an impressive slaloming run.
Goal Robin van Persie
GOAL! Goodness me, talk about in form. Gervinho again the creative outlet as he runs down the left and slides it back to Van Persie whose strike just beats Begovic's fingertips. A mirror image of the Gunner's second.
Arsenal playing keep ball now in an attempt to relieve the pressure from Stoke's long balls up to Jones and Jerome.
Stoke were set to bring on Jones and Jerome before Van Persie's equaliser but now the forwards are tasked with getting their side back in the game rather trying to win it.
Arsenal's fans now in fine voice. A win here would surely signal a complete turnaround in the Gunner's fortunes this season.
Goal Robin van Persie
GOAL! Who else? Gervinho does brilliantly down the right hand side to evade the full back and pulls back for Robin Van Persie who somehow squeezes it between Begovic and near post to put Arsenal ahead.
Theo Walcott replaced by Andrei Arshavin who has come in for some harsh criticism since his performance against midweek. Will the diminutive Russian silence the doubters today?
Arsenal have improved so much since the introduction of their captain. Can they grab the winner?
Van Persie unhappy about a challenge at the edge of the Stoke area, he says an elbow was used but the referee is having none of it.
Brilliant from Van Persie. He receives the ball for the first time in the box and jinks and weaves before putting a delightful ball across the box which Koscielny somehow gets underneath with the goal at his mercy.
Robin van Persie
Am I allowed to say I called it? Marouane Chamakh is substituted for the Gunner's captain Robin Van Persie. Can he break the deadlock?
The Arsenal fans really getting restless now with their team's performance and urging them forward to try and break Stoke's formidable defensive line.
Really sluggish from Arsenal so far this half, in particular Chamakh. The Moroccan forward is sure to be the first Gunners casualty with the inevitable introduction of Robin Van Persie.
Diao's first action is to brilliantly and cleanly clatter Gervinho to gain possession in midfield. Stoke's poor passing today rather inevitably sees them gift the ball straight back however.
Substitution for Stoke City as Rory Delap is removed for Salif Diao who is sporting a rather fetching mask to help protect a facial injury.
A Stoke move breaks down after a poor pass from Whitehead to the sound of jeers from the Arsenal fans. Still, you'd imagine it is the visitor's support who will be the happiest if the result stays as is.
Arsenal have had several corners already this half but are yet to really trouble the Stoke defence. Another is wasted and Jon Walters is now down after running into Matty Upson in the defensive effort.
Yellow Card Andy Wilkinson
Walcott unhappy after being dragged back by Wilkinson. The full-back has been troubled by the Englishman's pace all day and now has a yellow card to think about.
Josh Clarke from the Emirates: "I'm not sure I've ever seen a team so desperately need a player as Arsenal do van Persie. To say the Gunners have been short of ideas after the break would be a gross understatement. Surely a matter of time before the Dutchman is thrown into the mixer."
More of the same here as Arsenal surrender possession trying to pass it and Stoke simply hit the ball long in an attempt to capitalise on a shaky Gunners defence.
Wilkinson hoofs the ball hopelessly forward and it is out for an Arsenal goal kick.
The corner bounces around the Stoke box and, after a comedic overhead kick from Koscielny, the ball is cleared.
A nice break from Arsenal but Walcott's attempted low cross is blocked and out for a corner.
Admirably ambitious effort from Walters at the edge of the Arsenal box there. Miles wide.
Arsenal get us back under way.
45' + 2'
HALF TIME! Stoke second best for much of this match until their set piece equaliser but Arsenal's confidence seriously lacking since. Can Arsene Wenger rally his Gunners side in order to continue their recent Premier League improvement?
45' + 1'
Should have had the lead! Arteta does well to keep the ball in play on the left and ghosts inside Whitehead with ease. His ball into the box constitutes a tap in for Chamakh but he somehow contrives to miss out on the chance and allow the defender back in.
Walters looks to have the run on Koscielny in the Arsenal box but the defender puts in a brilliant challenge which deflects off the Stoke man for a goalkick.
Arsenal's passing has suffered with Stoke's equaliser and they are surrendering possession far too easily. Can anyone grab the impetus before half time?
Josh Clarke from the Emirates: "Stoke's equaliser massively against the run of play, with Andre Santos arguably culpable after being caught napping in the build up. The Gunners need to be careful here, Stoke are quickly gaining momentum and the atmosphere has turned very sour in the Emirates in a matter of minutes."
A Delap throw-in pinballs out for a corner off Song. Has any team decided just how to defend those yet?
Stoke are much improved since the goal and the defensive frailty of their hosts will only serve to give them confidence.
Assist Jonathan Walters
Goal Peter Crouch
GOAL! Well, you can only say this is typically Arsenal too. A well worked Stoke free kick sees Walters heads it back across goal into the path of Peter Crouch who has an easy finish to get the Potters back on level terms. Conceding from a set-piece, who'd have thought it?
Yellow Card Dean Whitehead
Josh Clarke from the Emirates: "Spot of deja-vu here with that goal. Ramsey has prized open the visitor's defence on two occasions so far. The first Gervinho's cushion off the chest was too heavy, the second, just right, allowing the Ivorian to rifle under Begovic. Top stuff from Ramsey."
A good chance to break for the hosts is wasted as Chamakh lazily flicks it behind when a better pass was on.
Assist Aaron Ramsey
GOAL! So typically Arsenal, this. The ball breaks to Ramsey after a Walcott miscontrol and the Welshman takes one touch before beautifully scooping it over the back four into the path of Gervinho. He doesn't miss from there the Ivorian and smashes it under Begovic.
Koscielny dangerously turns in his own box under pressure from Crouch but manages to win a throw-in off the big striker.
Walcott looks to break from a poor Stoke free kick but Wilkinson slides in to stop his progress.
So close! Gervinho collects the ball at the back post from Arteta's free kick and rolls it back to Ramsey who smashes it just wide of Begovic's post.
Wilson brings down Walcott as the winger's pace looks to have got him away on the right.
Walcott's swinging ball from the right evades the onrushing Arsenal attackers and the outstretched palm of the Stoke City keeper.
All rather scrappy at the moment, and the visitors are certainly putting themselves about, with Rory Delap and Dean Whitehead getting especially stuck in.
Now the visitors press forward, and Jonathan Walters - rested for their midweek Europa League victory over Maccabi Tel-Aviv - lashes a shot just wide of Szczesny's right-hand post.
A good chance goes begging there for Arsenal, as Chamakh fails to properly connect with a Mikel Arteta corner kick. A real let off for the Potters.
Our man at the ground, Josh Clarke, updates us: Cagey start from both sides with incident being few and far between so far at the Emirates. Chamakh glanced his free header from an Arteta corner disappointingly wide, while Gervinho's heavy touch let him down when through on goal. Arsenal clearly on the front foot.
And we're underway at the Emirates.
Stoke make a host of changes from the team that put Maccabi Haifa to the sword, though the only change from their last Premier League lineup is Dean Whitehead coming in for the injured Jermaine Pennant.
The one surprise from the Emirates is the omission of Robin van Persie, with Marouane Chamakh drafted in to replace the Gunners talisman. Will be fascinating to see how the home side perform without their captain. I have a feeling they might be distinctly average.
Good afternoon, and welcome to Goal.com LIVE commentary of Arsenal versus Stoke City.
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