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Arsenal 3-1 Stoke: match report

Arsenal won without too much trouble, with three goals created by Mesut Ozil powering them to the top of the table.

Ian Walton

1-0 Aaron Ramsey 5'
1-1 Geoff Cameron 26'
2-1 Per Mertesacker 36'
3-1 Bacary Sagna 72'

Arsenal were not at their sharpest - indeed, they really haven't been yet this season - but they were more than good enough to defeat a Stoke City side that, for once, didn't come to London looking only to hoof, throw, and kick their way through Arsenal.

In fact, oddly it seemed at times that Arsenal and Stoke had reversed places to an extent. Arsenal scored all three goals on set pieces. The first, from Ramsey cleaning up a ball spilled by Asmir Begovic after Mesut Ozil put a free kick on frame. The second, on a Mertesacker looping header from an Ozil corner kick. The third, a Sagna header from a free kick taken by - yes - Mesut Ozil. On the other side, Stoke were trying and, for the most part, succeeding, at playing possession football. Yeah, it was weird.

It's really interesting to see how much things change when you add a player of Ozil's quality. On the whole he really wasn't spectacular today. He misplaced some balls you might not expect, and gave the ball away a few more times besides. But his set pieces are far, far better than any Arsenal set piece taker has done in a while. And PROTIP: it's a lot easier to score on set pieces when your taker is of this level.

Two young players got Premier League Arsenal debuts today, as well. Ryo Miyaichi came on as a substitute, and didn't really have the time to make a grand impact on the game. But due to a late injury/illness/something to Theo Walcott, Serge Gnabry got the start on the right side. He certainly didn't give the kind of performance Walcott might have - he drifted positionally a lot, and not in ways that were particularly helpful. But you could certainly see the quality in him. He was very good at retaining possession, didn't waste a lot of passes, and looked confident in his own strength and skill. He's only just 18, so he clearly still has a lot of growing to do, but Lt. Serge didn't look out of place in the Arsenal side.

This goes back to something that was discussed a lot in the summer, but faded a bit as the Ozil honeymoon set in. Arsenal sold a lot of players that were seen as surplus - guys like Arshavin, Gervinho, and Chamakh, the backups from the past couple of years. And we really didn't add anyone to take their place. Some were very worried about this, but I actually liked the move.

You look at our reserve team and youth team and see guys like Ryo and Gnabry coming through, along with players like Chuba Akpom and Gedion Zelalem and Isaac Hayden. There are players with legitimate talent and potential coming through, who will be hungry to prove themselves. And frankly, the players who left were, for the most part, not that good. I think Gervinho tried his hardest to succeed at Arsenal, but it was just not going to happen. Was Gnabry today worse than Gervinho or Arshavin would have been? I honestly don't think so. Giving young players a chance is a good idea, to me. And I was glad to see it pay off today.

Next is West Brom in the Capital One Cup. We may see some of these young players again. And some less young players. HAIL ENTROPY.