Arsenal picked up their first home victory of the season as they earned a 2-0 victory over Mark Hughes’ Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.
Goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud were enough to see off a tame Potters side but many raised their eyebrows at the lack of goals after yet another profligate afternoon for the Gunners frontmen.
Arsene Wenger’s side created a league-leading 29 shooting opportunities against Stoke but saw just two strikes beat goalkeeper Jack Butland, who made a further ten saves throughout the contest.
Photo: Ronnie Macdonald
The Gunners’ failure to buy a world class striker in the summer transfer window was clear for all to see as both Walcott and Giroud squandered clear opportunities to extend Arsenal’s advantage.
The Potters were more than happy to defend and rarely showed much attacking intent and a top quality striker, such as Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, would have helped to break down Stoke’s stubborn unit. Walcott does deserve some credit though as he produced an incredible burst of pace to latch onto a lobbed Mesut Ozil pass before firing low past Butland to give Arsenal the lead.
Walcott has come under scrutiny in recent weeks and many believe that the England international’s best position is actually on the wing. His pace, energy and enthusiasm can commit defenders and his trickery is one of his greatest traits.
However, Wenger is sticking with his guns to play Walcott as the frontman - a decision that certainly paid off in this latest victory. In fact, he has scored 11 goals in his last 11 Premier League starts, which isn’t a bad record at all. At the time of writing, Walcott is valued at 40/1 with betfair to finish as the division’s top goalscorer this season.
Photo: Ronnie Macdonald
Olivier Giroud, meanwhile, also got his name on the scoresheet late on. The Frenchman is under pressure to perform well at the Emirates Stadium, particularly with the European Championships on home soil next summer. Many Arsenal supporters believe that they should be playing Walcott and Alexis Sanchez on either side of Giroud in attack but Wenger has opted to entrust in Walcott and the Englishman is currently producing the goods.
Giroud, on the other hand, has scored just two goals in his last 12 Premier League appearances - a statistic that perhaps tells a lot more about why Walcott is still getting the nod as Arsenal’s main man.
Up next for the Gunners is a trip to Stamford Bridge. Arsenal have struggled to beat Jose Mourinho’s side in the league over the past few years but their recent victory in the Community Shield, as well as Chelsea’s poor domestic form, could mean that the Gunners emerge victorious in this one. With a bit of luck and an excellent tactical strategy, Wenger’s men are more than capable of earning all three points in a huge game for both clubs.