STOKE CITY'S wait for any return from a trip to the Emirates Stadium continues.
The Potters were beaten 2-0 by Arsenal in North London – their eighth successive defeat in the capital at the hands of Arsene Wenger’s side.
England star Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud scored either side of half-time to consign City to their third defeat of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign.
Mark Hughes’ side struggled to fashion any clear-cut openings and were indebted to goalkeeper Jack Butland who made a string of outstanding saves to keep his team in the contest.
Hughes made three changes to his side, handing Phil Bardsley his first league start of the season, Joselu his full debut and Marko Arnautovic a return to the starting line-up.
It didn’t take Butland long to show his pedigree as he produced a magnificent third minute save to tip Alexis Sanchez’s header onto his left-hand upright.
The Stoke No.1 had to be at his best again two minutes later to finger-tip a Sanchez free-kick behind as the home side looked to turn their early dominance into their first Premier League goal of the season at the Emirates Stadium.
Sanchez went closer still when his shot from outside the area stuck Butland’s left-hand upright just moments before Walcott headed over the bar from Hector Bellerin’s pin-point cross from the right.
Walcott tested his England colleague with a shot after cutting in from the left-hand side, while Laurent Koscielny was given time and space to shoot from distance but again Butland was equal to the task as he tipped over.
He thwarted Arsenal skipper Santi Cazorla but was eventually beaten 14 minutes before the break as Walcott latched onto a long ball forward and shrugged off a challenge from Marc Muniesa before firing under the on-rushing Butland.
City attempted to respond and Joselu forced Petr Cech to make his first save of the afternoon as he blocked the Spaniard’s shot after a promising counter-attacking move.
Aaron Ramsey squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to extend Arsenal’s lead at the start of the second half; the Welshman firing wastefully over the bar from an unmarked position inside the area.
Shaqiri provided City’s brightest moment of the afternoon moments later as he forced Cech to make a smart save after good approach play down the right by Phil Bardsley.
Joselu’s afternoon came to an end after 57 minutes as Hughes made his first change of the afternoon, bringing on Stephen Ireland for the Spanish striker.
Ireland had sparked City’s great escape on their last visit to North London as they came from 2-0 down to snatch a draw against Tottenham and the Irishman’s introduction certainly sparked an upturn in the Potters’ performance.
They were, however, still reliant on Butland who made another good save to keep out Mesut Ozil midway through the second half.
Bojan entered the action 16 minutes from time – at the expense of Mame Diouf – but before he had chance to make an impact City went close to falling further behind as Arsenal substitute Giroud somehow fired wide from six yards out.
Cazorla also went close after weaving his way to the edge of the City area but it was left to Giroud to seal Arsenal’s success five minutes from time as he planted his close range header from Cazorla’s free-kick beyond the reach of Butland.
The City ‘keeper made another stunning save to keep out Koscielny with 90 seconds of normal time remaining but despite his heroics it proved to be a disappointing day in the capital.
The Potters will look to go in search of their first league win of the campaign next Saturday when they face Leicester at the Britannia Stadium.