Arsenal Vs. Stoke City, 2011 Premier League: Robin Reliant Does It Again

There isn’t much more one can say about Robin van Persie. The Arsenal captain scored another 2 goals this afternoon, to make it 25 goals in 26 Premier League appearances in 2011 and to turn 1-1 into 3-1 for Arsenal. The fact that his two goals came in little under 25 minutes makes his performance all the more remarkable.

Arsenal started well, holding onto the ball well, and dealt with Rory Delap’s long throws with ease. Marouane Chamakh had a free header from Mikel Arteta’s corner, but headed wide. Aaron Ramsey played a wonderful chip into Gervinho’s run, but the Ivorian winger couldn’t quite bring the pass under control. No matter though; minutes later, Ramsey tried the same routine from an even closer angle, and Gervinho brought it down before rounding Asmir Begovic and tucking away for 1-0.

Arsenal’s weakness at set pieces, though, came back to bite them. For some reason, Lee Mason gave Stoke a free kick when Laurent Koscielny jumped above Peter Crouch. Whelan’s ball to the right was headed across by Shawcross, headed back in by Walters and tapped home by Crouch. Not a foul, but, the only blemish on the Arsenal defence who dealt with set pieces fairly well. Moments later, Arsenal should’ve had a penalty; Andy Wilkinson grabbed Marouane Chamakh from behind and brought him down. It was more of a foul than the one Mason gave, highlighting the inconsistencies that make him one of the worst referees in the League.

Arsenal passed and tried to probe their way through Stoke’s defence in the second half, but the game was crying out for Robin van Persie. On he came, for the ineffectual Chamakh, and almost immediately, he scored. Gervinho did ever so well to beat Marc Wilson, get to the byline and cutback for van Persie, who’s shot beat was hard enough so that Begovic could only get a touch. It was the kind of goal van Persie has been scoring a lot recently, showing his superb poaching instincts to go along with his Bergkamp-esque creativity and passing range.

van Persie added a second 9 minutes later. Arshavin played a superb pass to put Gervinho in, who slid for van Persie who again hit his shot hard enough so that Begovic could only get a touch. 3-1, and all 3 points for Arsenal, making it 6 wins out of 7 for the team supposedly "in crisis".

Arsenal move up to 7th, just 2 points behind Liverpool and 4 behind Newcastle, while Stoke drop to 9th.

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