Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City: Andrey Arshavin Catalyst For Rejuvenating Win

Gunners rid recent woes with home win.

Following two successive 3-0 defeats, against the power and strength of Chelsea, and the financial might of Manchester City, Arsenal were granted a chance to get their season back on track with a home tie against Stoke City. However, rewind to just over a year ago, and the Gunners failed to blast their way past the Potters in the reverse fixture.

After the foot injury sustained by Robin van Persie while on international duty with Netherlands, it was imperative that Arsene Wenger found a way to concoct a similar vein of goal-scoring form while the Dutchman was in the team.

Against Stoke, though, Arsenal had chance after chance to tally up a weighty scoreline - like they have done on countless occassions this season - but only two of them counted.

Andrey Arshavin, who struggled to overcome the emotional turmoil accrued after Slovenia downed Russia in the World Cup play-offs, was fundamental to Arsenal's potency going forward.

Playmaking captain Francesc Fabregas laced a pass through to Arshavin in the third minute, leaving the diminutive attacker through on goal, but Thomas Sorensen managed to judge the situation and blocked "Shava's" route to the net.

Seventeen minutes later and the 28-year-old had won a penalty kick for his side. Fabregas stepped in to deputise for traditional taker, van Persie - so effective from the spot - but unfortunately for the home support, Sorensen again foiled the Gunners, and got gloves to the ball - although Arsene Wenger may question Sorensen's positioning. The goalkeeper appeared to leave his line early.

The Spaniard and the Russian combined brilliantly mid-way through the half to chalk a goal in favour of the Arsenal. The latter evaded the Potters defence of Faye and Huth, and slotted the ball beyond the reach of the 'keeper. The home side, clearly, took little time in overcoming their dejection from the earlier penalty miss.

Just before half-time and Arsenal could have had another penalty as Danny Collins appeared to handle the ball after a Samir Nasri strike, but referee Mark Clattenburg waved play-on.

After the break, the traffic was mostly in Arsenal's favour, and Arshavin was the catalyst for the clearer-cut of the Gunners' chances. Thomas Vermaelen - who had become a goal-scoring threat himself since his acquisition from Ajax - threaded a ball through to Arshavin, but a questionable first touch allowed Sorensen to smother the opportunity.

As the minutes began to accumulate, nerves became apparent within the home crowds, as Arsenal have rarely been able to protect a clean sheet, however, such trepidation was quelled with just over ten minutes to go as burgeoning Welsh starlet Aaron Ramsey doubled his side's advantage. Arshavin this time played the part of creator, with Ramsey neatly finishing after a well thought-out build-up.

With the game finished at 2-0, and maximum points in the bag, Arsenal can begin to breathe easier again, as they avoided a mini crisis of form.

Alan Dawson, UK