Sanchez boosts Arsenal’s top-4 bid
Striker Alexis Sanchez (in pic) capped an outstanding individual display with two goals as Arsenal moved up to fifth in Premier League with a 3-0 win over Stoke on Sunday.
Laurent Koscielny set Arsene Wenger’s side on course for the win with a sixth minute header but it was Sanchez who stood out, scoring either side of half-time at the Emirates Stadium to take his season tally to 18.
Sanchez’s latest heroics moved Arsenal level on points with fourth-placed Southampton, who were due to face Manchester United at Old Trafford later on Sunday.
And while a serious looking shoulder injury to Arsenal right-back Mathieu Debuchy took some of the gloss off the win, the return of Mesut Ozil for his first appearance since early October provided Wenger with another welcome boost.
Arsenal had no shortage of motivation in their efforts to revive their top four challenge in the wake of the New Year’s Day defeat at Southampton that had left them in sixth place. Tottenham’s loss at Crystal Palace on Saturday offered Wenger’s side a chance to leapfrog their north London rivals, while they were also keen to avenge a chastening 3-2 defeat at the Britannia Stadium last month.
On that occasion, Mark Hughes’ side had gone ahead after just 19 seconds and were in complete control when they reached half-time three up, sparking fierce criticism of Wenger.
But Stoke had lost on each of their 12 visits to Arsenal since 1981 and it soon became clear that run would continue as Wenger’s men set about the game like a side with a score to settle.