With Arsenal coming into some fine form after winning their last three Premier League matches and their first Champions League group stage match against Marseille, I and the majority of Gooners were confident that Arsenal would see out the intense and fuelled battle against Stoke, taking the Gunners to the top of the table.
Mesut Özil's eagerly anticipated home debut was slightly overlooked by the anticipation over another possible world class performance from Welsh maestro Aaron Ramsey, against the team in which he suffered a horrific leg break three years ago.
Since then, there has been a strong rivalry between the two clubs, with Stoke being branded more of a rugby club than a football club, due to their aggressive and physical playing style.
Arsenal were due to set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation featuring Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Flamini, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Mesut Özil, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.
However, a late illness to Walcott forced him out of the squad and in came Serge Gnabry for his first league start for Arsenal.
Arsenal started the game excellently, it was only the 4th minute when a free-kick was given about 25 yards out after Wilshere made a trademark burst from midfield and was brought down by Charlie Adam.
It didn't take long before Özil would make his first significant contribution at The Grove after he struck the free-kick around the wall and low, only for Asmir Begovic to parry it out to the main man in form, Ramsey, to slot it home underneath the Bosnian's legs, running over to the Stoke fans and putting a finger to his lips to silence his most prominent critics, well second behind one tubby Piers Morgan.
Ramsey is in a rich vein of form right now, he is finally rediscovering some of that scintillating form that he showed in his early days at Arsenal and Cardiff, slotting home his 7th goal in all competitions.
He seems to be a real match winner for us right now, and it is vital that he starts alongside a holding midfielder, such as Flamini, so we have the right blend of stability and flair even if that means Wilshere doesn't start.
The Staffordshire club then hit back with some lovely interchanging football down the right flank through the likes of Geoff Cameron, Kenwyne Jones and Steven N'Zonzi. Something I've noticed a lot about Stoke this season, their increased ability to get the ball on the floor and play it around since Mark Hughes took over from Tony Pulis.
Cameron ran down the right and played a ball inside to Jones who rolled it back to Cameron, Cameron then played it back to N'Zonzi who played a delightful chip in the 18 yard box, which was met by new signing Marko Arnautović, from Weder Bremen. His effort hit the post only for it to rebound out to the awaiting Cameron to finish it home away to Szczesny's left.
Arsenal's heads did not drop there, though. Özil whipped in a corner from the right towards the near post. Captain Mertesacker met the cross with his head and guided the ball into the left of the net past a number of bodies.
The Emirates erupted once again as Arsenal restored their lead, through Mertesacker's fourth league goal for the club and Özil's third assist. Özil seems to be making a real impact already for the team, producing vital assists to goals and overall creating a lot more space for other members of the side to use.
The Gunners' third and final goal came through, yep you guessed it, another Özil cross. This time from the left. It was floated in towards the back post, with the least suspecting customer to meet it, right back Sagna.
His wonderfully guided header managed to float over the stranded Begovic and into bottom left of the bulging net.
Sagna, 30, will be out of contract at the end of the current season, and there is a lot of speculation regarding the renewal of it. Personally, I think he deserves a lucrative one, yes he hasn't managed to win any silverware during his time in north London, but has been a more than vital and loyal servant. Saving many a goal, most memorably, his goal-line clearance against Aston Villa in the league.
From there on in, Arsenal were on the home straight with the finish line being three points, there were a few more chances scuppered by the likes of Giroud and Ramsey, but it was relatively easy for they boys to close out the game, secure the victory and take Arsenal back to the top of the table.
It is clear to see that Arsene Wenger has got a brilliant group of players at his disposal, they seem to have a wonderful team spirit with a great bond. For me, this is very noticeable around the club whilst I am ball-boying, even the staff are in great spirits, each one of us and the stewards really do feel that something could happen this season.
I believe that if Arsenal are still in the Champions League and League Cup and up and around the top of the table by January, they will be a real force to be reckoned with. The club have recently released their annual financial figures and members of the Arsenal Supporters' Trust have analysed them, suggesting that the club could add another two players around the same value of record signing Özil, with the possibility of adding £450,000 to the wage bill.
There are bright times ahead at The Emirates, if Wenger can find the right balance in the midfield this season, choosing the right five players out of his 10, arguably the best 10 in the country - with the likes of Özil, Ramsey, Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Walcott , they will surely challenge for the domestic title this season.
Thanks for the read and the next part will be up in the following days after the Napoli game next Tuesday. Up The Arsenal!
Follow me on Twitter for more Arsenal updates @JDillonCarter
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