Arsenal moved top of the Premier League as they came from behind to beat Stoke at Emirates Stadium. The visitors took the lead through Charlie Adam’s penalty after Granit Xhaka elbowed Joe Allen. Theo Walcott turned in substitute Hector Bellerin’s cross just before half-time for his 100th club goal. Mesut Ozil headed over goalkeeper Lee Grant to give Arsenal the lead before substitute Alex Iwobi side-footed home the third. The Gunners leapfrog Chelsea on goals scored, with Antonio Conte’s side facing West Brom at Stamford Bridge on Sunday at 12:00 GMT.
Arsenal came into the game in great form after putting five past West Ham last Saturday and scoring four in Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday. Unbeaten in the league since an opening-day home defeat by Liverpool, that record looked in danger when Xhaka caught and cut Welshman Allen with his elbow, prompting referee Lee Mason to award the penalty from which Stoke scored. He did not show the Swiss a yellow card. The Gunners had already lost Shkodran Mustafi to injury, with the German later ruled out for at least three weeks. His replacement, Bellerin, had a superb game. The Spain right-back frequently drove forward and it was from his low cross that Walcott glanced the equaliser. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain chipped a wonderful pass over the Stoke defence for Ozil to head his ninth league goal of the season, with Potters right-back Erik Pieters still running back having had to leave the pitch following treatment.
Iwobi, who scored in Basel, ensured Arsenal moved top ahead of Chelsea, having scored four more goals than the Blues. They are level on 34 points with a goal difference of +21. Will Arsenal have the mental and physical stamina to still be in that position come the end of the season? Stoke were also in excellent form, winning five of their previous nine games and losing just one. They had only conceded five times in that run but history was not in their favour, having lost their past 14 visits to Arsenal and not winning there since August 1981. Marc Muniesa went close with an early 30-yard volley before Adam sent Petr Cech the wrong way to mark his 31st birthday with his first goal of the season. Twice Stoke came close to scoring only for Arsenal to score almost immediately afterwards. Marko Arnautovic threatened to make it 2-0 after an excellent run in the Gunners’ box but was crowded out just before Walcott’s equaliser. Mark Hughes’ side increasingly found themselves on the back foot in the second half but came close to an equaliser when Peter Crouch was brought on for a corner and immediately headed down to force a smart, low save from Cech. Within two minutes Iwobi made it 3-1 to put the game to bed.