Arsenal marched to the Premier League summit with a 3-1 victory over Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium with £42 million summer signing Mesut Ozil playing a pivotal role in all three goals on his home debut.
They broke the deadlock inside five minutes when Aaron Ramsey tucked home a loose ball after Asmir Begovic had palmed out Ozil’s free-kick before Stoke equalised through Geoff Cameron, the American stroking the ball past Wojciech Szczesny after Marko Arnautovic’s volley had struck the post.
The visitors missed a great chance to take the lead when Kenwyne Jones miscontrolled when through on goal and it was to prove costly as Arsenal grabbed their second when Per Mertesacker headed home from Ozil’s corner.
Stoke improved after the break but it was the hosts who grabbed the important fourth goal when Bacary Sagna’s looping header found the far corner of Begovic’s goal.
Ramsey forced a great save from Begovic late on as Arsenal made it four wins on the bounce to move two points clear at the top of the league - although North London rivals Tottenham joined them on 12 points after snatching an injury time victory against Cardiff later on Sunday.
PRE-MATCH: Walcott withdraws from starting XI. The England winger withdraws from the Arsenal team with a minor abdominal injury to hand Serge Gnabry a spot on the right wing.
5’ – GOAL: Arsenal 1-0 Stoke: Arsenal win a free-kick 25 yards out. New boy Mesut Ozil stands over it... The German forces a save from Asmir Begovic but the ball bounces loose inside the area. Who is alive to the situation? None other than Ramsey who fires in the rebound. The Welshman is prolific!
26’ – GOAL: Arsenal 1-1 Stoke: N'Zonzi floats one towards new boy Arnautovic who lets the ball drop before striking his volley against the post. Not to worry, Cameron is on hand to place the rebound beyond the reach of Szczesny. Game on.
28’ – CHANCE: A long ball hoisted through the middle finds Kenwyne Jones inside the area. He's got acres of space but his first touch is woeful which allows Mertesacker to get back and make a challenge. Arsenal wobbling...
36’ – GOAL: Arsenal 2-1 Stoke: Mertesacker drops off his man to meet the corner with his head. It loops into the air, but Begovic can't dive as Koscielny stands between the keeper and the flight path of the ball. Arsenal regain the lead!
72’ – GOAL: Arsenal 3-1 Stoke: Ozil whips the free-kick into the penalty area, Sagna rises above everyone and sees his header hang in the air before dropping into the corner of Begovic's goal. Surely that secures the points.
Arsenal win four of their opening five Premier League matches of the season for the first time since 2008/09. They finished that season in fourth position.
Stoke have lost all six Premier League away matches to Arsenal making the Gunners their least favourite opponents.
Aaron Ramsey has scored seven goals already this season.
TALKING POINT: Are Arsenal realistic title contenders? Since suffering an embarrassing home defeat to Aston Villa, the Gunners have won four league matches on the spin. In Mesut Ozil they have a player capable of unlocking the tightest defenders but the question remains: can they perform against the Premier League elite?
MAN OF THE MATCH
Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal): Consistently broke up Stoke attacks and marshalled the Arsenal defence behind him. Looks like an inspired piece of summer business from Wenger.
Arsenal: Szczesny 7, Sagna 7, Mertesacker 7, Koscielny 7, Gibbs 6, Flamini 8, Ramsey 7, Wilshere 7, Ozil 7, Gnabry 7, Giroud 7. Subs: Arteta 6, Monreal 6, Miyachi 6.
Stoke: Begovic 5, Cameron 6, Shawcross 5, Huth 6, Pieters 5, Walters 5, Wilson 6, Nzonzi 7, Adam 6, Arnautovic 6, Jones 5. Subs: Pennant 6, Palacios 6, Ireland 6.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET