Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City

Per Mertesacker

Mesut Ozil had a hand in all three Arsenal goals as they chalked up their seventh consecutive victory by comfortably beating Stoke.

Aaron Ramsey notched his seventh goal in eight games by knocking in after Asmir Begovic saved Ozil's free-kick.

Stoke equalised before the break when Geoff Cameron steered in after Marko Arnautovic hit the post.

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Arsenal 3-1 Stoke: Arsene Wenger hails 'very important' win

Per Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna then headed in Ozil set-pieces as Arsenal moved to the top of the Premier League.

This result was another demonstration of how Ramsey and Ozil, making his home debut, are becoming pivotal players for the Gunners.

Yet with a still lengthy injury list, there was a further worry for Wenger when Theo Walcott was ruled out before kick-off with a pelvic abdominal injury. However, his 18-year-old German deputy, Serge Gnabry, looked comfortable in his first game of the season.

Mikel Arteta also returned for the final 10 minutes following a thigh problem.

By that stage, victory was sealed in another game where Ozil, watched by Germany coach Jochim Loew, looked like he has been in the Arsenal side for years rather than the three weeks since his deadline-day move from Real Madrid.

And he performed a slight twist on this match by contributing to the type of goals usually associated with Arsenal's opponents.

It was from Ozil's free-kick that Ramsey continued his fine goalscoring run. Charlie Adam's trip on Jack Wilshere led to the set-piece and, when Ozil curled it over the wall, Begovic could only parry it into Ramsey's path.

After suffering a broken leg in a challenge from Stoke's Ryan Shawcross in 2010, the goal allowed Ramsey to put a positive slant on this fixture and show how he is evolving into a composed finisher.

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Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City: Mark Hughes rues set-piece weaknesses

Shawcross continued to be booed for his part in that incident but, despite allowing Arsenal to enjoy healthy spells of possession in the first period, Stoke were tidy with the ball when they got it and equalised midway through the first half.

Cameron was the driving force behind the goal, winning the ball near the halfway line and passing to Steven Nzonzi before continuing his run down the right. And, when Arnautovic fired against the post from Nzonzi's centre, it was Cameron who steered past Wojciech Szczesny from 16 yards for his first Stoke goal.

The visitors could have gone ahead had Kenwyne Jones been able to control Shawcross's long pass but it was the hosts who created more chances and went ahead before the break when Mertesacker headed in Ozil's corner.

That pattern continued soon after half-time as Gnabry grew in confidence, perhaps a status recognised by Robert Huth as the German knocked his fellow countryman to the floor in the build-up to Olivier Giroud's stinging effort.

But, despite holding a goal advantage, Arsenal's grip on possession began to slip and Stoke enjoyed their best spell with some slick passing and could have equalised again, only for Szczesny to stop Marc Wilson's angled effort from 18 yards.

Despite their evolution under Mark Hughes, where they have relied less on longer passes, Stoke were still robust in midfield.

Yet, with Ozil's accuracy from set-pieces, the Potters failed to heed the warning of committing fouls around their own penalty area and the record £42.4m signing showed all of his quality to curl another delivery onto Sagna's head for the completion of a straightforward Arsenal win.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes: "We are disappointed with the manner of the goals, we lost three goals to set plays and that's not something we usually do. And I don't think there are many occasions where they score from free-kicks or from balls into the box.

"We showed good courage to get on level terms, but their second goal was disappointing. In the second half we looked like we were the more likely to score and when they got a third it took the wind out of our sails."

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