Arsenal 4 Stoke City 1

Last updated : 24 May 2009 By Footymad Previewer
Arsenal cruised to a comfortable 4-1 victory over Stoke City with all the goals coming in the first half.

With potentially £2.5million at stake in Premier League prize money, the result of the game clearly had more significance for Stoke.

But they had to kiss those funds goodbye as they were 3-0 down inside of 18 minutes.

The Gunners went ahead in the 12th minute from an own goal by James Beattie.

The Stoke striker was making his 300th career Premier League appearance, but was not celebrating when he turned in Cesc Fabregas' cross from the right flank past his own goalkeeper.

Stoke's heads dropped further four minutes later when Robin van Persie converted a penalty with clinical precision after he was brought down by Ryan Shawcross.

Abou Diaby made it 3-0 when he rose highest to head home powerfully from van Persie's perfectly flighted free-kick.

The Gunners were enjoying themselves and substitute keeper Thomas Sorensen was tested in the 27th minute by a fierce Diaby shot and then got his outstretched boot to the ball to deny Theo Walcott three minutes later.

At the other end, rookie keeper Vito Mannone got his eye in with a fine save from a Beattie free-kick.

There was little he could do however in the 31st minute when he was sent the wrong way from the penalty spot by Ricardo Fuller after he had been brought down by a needless Kolo Toure challenge.

Van Persie came close to an immediate response but his rocket of a free-kick cannoned back of the crossbar and Sorensen was on hand to palm away Andrey Arshavin's overhead kick form the rebound.

Sorensen denied the Russian again in the 38th minute after he let fly with a shot that the Stoke keeper gathered in mid-air.

Van Persie made it 4-1 four minutes before half time when he fired in an overhead kick when beyond the Stoke rearguard but onside as a consequence of the ball being headed to him by Rory Delap.

The Gunners continued to dominate in the second half and could have gone further ahead just after the hour when van Persie was fed by Fabregas, but Sorensen bravely smothered the ball.

Sorensen was well beaten when Diaby met Emmanuel Eboue's precise cross from the right but his glanced header bounced inches wide of the right post.

That was the extent of the action as Stoke packed their defence and the Gunners seemed happy to pass the ball around in pretty triangles.