STOKE CITY brought the curtain down on their home schedule for the 2016/17 season in bitterly disappointing fashion on Saturday evening.
Needing a victory to keep alive hopes of a record breaking fourth successive top 10 finish, the Potters were undone by a rampant Arsenal side in front of the live television cameras at the bet365 Stadium.
Olivier Giroud’s effort on the stroke of half-time got the ball rolling for the Champions League chasing Londoners, who knew there was no room for error if they were to cling on the coattails of both Liverpool and Manchester City above them.
Their hopes of securing maximum points significantly increased when the lively Mesut Ozil rounded off a flowing move with a clinical finish from eight-yards shortly after the interval.
The hosts did offer some resistance following the German international’s effort and managed to halve the deficit through substitute Peter Crouch, who expertly headed home his ninth of the season from close range just minutes after being thrust on to the field.
A brief onslaught gave the home supporters hope that City could peg back the clearly rattled visitors, however, a goal on the counter attack 15 minutes from time put to bed any ambitions of a triumphant home finale.
Alexis Sanchez, one of the Premier League’s most potent and impressive frontman, was allowed too much time and space inside the penalty area, and his strike fortuitously flicked off the foot of Ryan Shawcross and left Jack Butland helpless.
It didn’t take long for Arsene Wenger’s men to rub further salt into the Potters’ wounds, as French international Giroud swept home his second of the evening after being picked out by a pinpoint centre from Hector Bellerin.