Premier League - Van Persie fires Arsenal to win

Sun, 23 Oct 15:26:00 2011

Robin van Persie came off the bench to score twice for Arsenal in their 3-1 win over Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League.

Arsenal 3 Stoke 1

Gervinho scored his first goal in front of his home crowd to put the Gunners ahead midway through the first half, only for the Potters to reply through Peter Crouch's close-range effort a few minutes later.

Van Persie started the match on the bench, but came on with 67 minutes played and pounced to net two goals that sealed all three points for the Gunners.

The win was Arsenal's third on the spin and it lifted them back into the top half of the table above Stoke, who continued their run of losing the match immediately following each of their Europa League group games.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made good on his pre-match pledge to rest his star striker and captain Van Persie despite the Dutchman being in the best form of his career.

Playing in Van Persie's stead was Marouane Chamakh, but the much-maligned Moroccan's poor form in front of goal continued in front of a weary Emirates crowd.

Just 10 minutes into the game Mikel Arteta's well-delivered corner was met by Chamakh, whose downward header bounces harmlessly wide of Asmir Begovic's goal.

The Potters were for the most part doing a good job of stifling the creativity of Arteta and Aaron Ramsey, though the latter did find ways through Stoke's obdurate defence on occasion.

The Welsh international lifted a canny pass over the defence for Gervinho to take on his chest, but Begovic was alert to the danger and denied the Ivorian a chance to shoot.

Not long after that chance, Ramsey tried the same trick again, and this time Gervinho got his shot away on the turn and beat the Bosnian keeper.

However, just as against Sunderland the previous weekend, Arsenal relinquished their lead before half-time after Crouch was fouled in an aerial duel with Laurent Koscielny. The subsequent free-kick was floated into the box by Glenn Whelan, Marc Wilson headed it back across goal and Jon Walters nodded it down for Crouch to convert from a yard out for his sixth career goal against the Gunners.

Arsenal felt they should have had a penalty almost immediately after the restart when Andy Wilkinson appeared to wrestle Chamakh to the ground, but referee Lee Mason was not interested in giving it.

The second half saw Arsenal continue to dominate possession but struggle to create any chances of note until Van Persie replaced the ineffectual Chamakh on 67 minutes.

The Netherlands striker took just six minutes to continue his devastating scoring form when Gervinho motored past makeshift full-back Wilson to the byline and pulled a pass back for Van Persie to squirm past Begovic inside the near post.

The pair combined again 10 minutes later to score a mirror image of Van Persie's first goal, with Gervinho attacking from the left this time and the Dutchman finishing first time.

Van Persie may have scored twice, but it was Gervinho who was given a deserved standing ovation when he was substituted in the 90th minute for scoring one and setting up the other two of Arsenal's goals.

Tony Mabert - on Twitter @tony_mabert / Eurosport

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