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17:00 5th December 2009

Arsenal 2 Stoke City 0

THOMAS SORENSEN'S outstanding display couldn't prevent Stoke City from slipping to a 2-0 defeat in their Barclays Premier League match against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon.

The Danish international pulled off a string of outstanding saves - including one to deny Cesc Fabregas from the penalty spot - but he was beaten by well-taken goals from Andrey Arshavin and substitute Aaron Ramsey as the Gunners ended their run of poor results.

It was Russian international Arshavin who proved to be a constant menace to the battling Potters and he could have had a hat-trick but for the brilliance of Sorensen.

City boss Tony Pulis could draw some comfort from the fact that his side showed plenty of character and spirit in difficult circumstances to restrict Arsenal and they still had a chance of claiming at least a point going into the closing stages of the game.

Pulis made three changes to the side which held Blackburn to a goalless draw, two of them enforced by the one-match suspension being served by Dean Whitehead and the groin injury from which Ryan Shawcross had failed to recover sufficiently.

Rory Delap replaced Whitehead in the centre of midfield, while skipper Abdoulaye Faye was recalled to the starting line-up alongside Robert Huth.

The other change saw Tuncay given his first Premier League start for the Potters as he came in for Ricardo Fuller to partner Mamady Sidibe.

City quickly found themselves having to face up to a wave of Arsenal attacks as the home side looked to bounce back from their recent setbacks and it was Sorensen who prevented the game from being settled in the opening stages with some excellent stops.

Arshavin was causing most of the problems and he found space to burst through and force a fine save out of Sorensen as early as the third minute.

The Russian star then turned provider two minutes later with a neat pass to pick out Samir Nasri and once again it was City's keeper who came to the rescue.

City settled after those early scares and with Tuncay looking sharp up front, they looked to create some problems for the Gunners defence.

But Arsenal appeared to have the chance to go in front in the 20th minute when the lively Arshavin was brought down on the right hand edge of the box by Delap and referee Mark Clattenburg had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Fabregas took the penalty and struck his effort to the left of Sorensen, but the 'keeper guessed correctly to pull off an outstanding save.

Unfortunately, the reprieve lasted only six minutes and it was Fabregas and Arshavin were involved in the move that led to the opening goal.

It was Fabregas who found Arshavin bursting into box and he held off the close attention of Andy Wilkinson to thread his shot wide of Sorensen and into the far corner to finally break City's spirited resistance in the first quarter of the game.

The Potters were lucky not to fall further behind two minutes later when Faye deflected an Armand Traore cross onto a post leaving Fabregas with what appeared a simple task to score, but his shot hit Emmanuel Eboue and deflected wide.

Having overcome that anxious moment, City managed to hold out until the half-time break, although a Nasri cross did flash across the face of their goal with no Gunners player there to apply the finishing touch inside the six yard box.

The second half began much as the first had done with Arsenal carving out a couple of good opportunities to stretch their lead.

Arshavin was the thorn in City's side once again, forcing a fine save out of Sorensen in the 50th minute and then seeing a close range shot deflect off Faye and clatter against the bar with the 'keeper well beaten on that occasion.

Pulis made a couple of tactical switches as the half progressed, replacing Sidibe with James Beattie and then bringing on Fuller for Liam Lawrence.

Any hope that City had of snatching a point was killed off in the 79th minute when Arsenal secured a two-goal cushion through substitute Ramsey.

Huth tried to intercept a ball played forward but as he challenged Arshavin and it opened a gap for Ramsey to stride forward and stab his shot past Sorensen.

Arsenal went in search of a third goal and it took a fine tackle from Wilkinson to prevent Arshavin from scoring again after he had been found by Fabregas.

    Data provided by Press Association


    The Potters played out four replays to finally beat Bury in the FA Cup in 1955