Arsenal faced Stoke City today in Premier League action, and added to the ongoing narrative of Arsenal pretty, Stoke ugly as Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 win that was all about the sweet goalmaking machine that is Alexis Alejandro Sanchez Sanchez.
Arsenal was threatening from the get-go, and if not for the goal-stopping heroics of Asmir Begovic (and the reticent card-in-the-pocketness of referee Jon Moss), it could have been more lopsided than 2-0 at the half. In the sixth minute, Alexis Sanchez found Laurent Koscielny's forehead as a corner-kick developed into Alexis sexytimes, and the Gunners were up 1-0. In the 33rd minute, Alexis freelanced in front of the goal before delivering a low shot that eluded Begovic to double the lead.
But the first half wasn't entirely joyful. Ten minutes into the match, Mathieu Debuchy ran toward the goalline to snuff out a potential attack from Marko Arnautovic, and Arnautovic thanked him by shoving him into the advertising boards. After being tended to by medical staff for several long, nervy moments, they stretchered Debuchy off, reportedly with a dislocated shoulder. By that point, Hector Bellerin had already been deputized as emergency right-back.
Also, fan favorite Ryan Shawcross and the handsome and suave Olivier Giroud fought the entire first-half -- including a Shawcross push out of bounds that begged for a penalty kick, but no such luck. This Vine showcases a particularly stellar moment in the proceedings:
Arsenal started where they left off in the second half. In the 48th minute, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain earned a free kick on the edge of the box thanks to a clumsy Steve Sidwell tackle, and Alexis' shot bounced off Begovic's gloves and the post before comically landing in the net to make it 3-0.
And, lo and behold, Sidwell received the match's first yellow card several minutes later, leading to the day's biggest applause, and to a bit of a yellow card party for multiple Stoke defenders, including Team America's Geoff Cameron.
Shortly after what would have been a ridiculous Santi Cazorla goal in the 67th minute, Theo Walcott came on to spell Oxlade-Chamberlain. Also, Mesut Özil came on for Giroud in the 73rd minute for Arsenal's final substitution. Walcott had a solid chance to make it 4-0 in the 80th minute on a gorgeous throughball from Alexis ... but he's going to need to work on his finishing, it seems. Özil also had a chance at a goal in the 87th minute, but he too needs to get back into form.
Goalkeeper David Ospina didn't have to do too much -- he failed to snuff a late-game goal from Cameron, which appeared to make it 3-1 (but the offside flag kept the clean sheet going), and dove to save a very-late-game Stephen Ireland shot, but Stoke didn't do all that much to test him.
Today's terrible (but fitting) song: