Date: 13 May 2017 14:58
Another protest in the form of a plane banner will fall on deaf ears with the Gunners still in contention to secure Champions League football again
Stoke away is traditionally a fixture where Arsenal’s clichéd weaknesses are laid bare in front of them, but not on this occasion.
Arsene Wenger’s side were dominant in possession and able to win the majority of their duels amidst the backdrop of another plane banner protest against their under-fire French coach, who could yet stay two more seasons in north London.
Alexis inspires Arsenal win at Stoke
Such protests become almost meaningless and easily forgettable when Arsenal come out of tough Saturday evenings like this with all three points, even more so when you take into consideration that a top-four spot remains a possibility.
The Gunners had failed to score in three of their last four Premier League visits to the bet365 Stadium but this match told a completely different story to Arsenal's familiar failings in such ferocious fixtures. Goals from Olivier Giroud (2), Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez fired Wenger’s men to a comprehensive and impressive victory which drew them to within a point of fourth-placed Liverpool, who must travel to West Ham on Sunday.
It was the efforts of Alexis which emphasised the character which the team should show in every single game and have, in fairness, been exhibiting in the wake of their demoralising defeat at Tottenham.
After appearing to suffer a muscular injury deep into the second half, the Chilean signalled to the bench that he wanted to be substituted - and he was, but not before finishing expertly past Jack Butland just minutes later to kill the game as a contest.
If anything defined the personality of Arsenal’s much-sought after 28-year-old maestro, then it was that inspirational moment of defiance. Alexis has now become the 8th player to score 50 Premier League goals for Arsenal and he is the first Premier League player to record double figures for both goals (20) and assists (10) this season.
On an afternoon full of positives for the visitors, there was even a cameo appearance from Aaron Ramsey, who had been surprisingly dropped to the bench after impressing against Southampton. His assist for the fourth and final goal is a sign of how influential he can become as Arsenal’s box-to-box playmaker.
Ridiculous Wenger out banner slammed
While birthday boy Francis Coquelin did an excellent job in mopping up in defensive midfield, it’s clear that the best midfield partnership Wenger can field right now is the Xhaka-Ramsey pivot which worked so successfully at St Mary’s on Wednesday.
Written off as Arsenal’s worst ever season under Wenger, the promise of another cup final at Wembley and 22 consecutive years of Champions League qualification cannot be argued with. While they’re not quite there yet - much will depend on the extent of Alexis' injury - you can be sure that they will do everything possible to win their final games and hope that Liverpool slip up to give them a golden opportunity of securing qualification.
Wenger in, Wenger out, every fan has a view on the managerial situation at Arsenal right now but protests are quietly losing the traction they once had.