Stoke City 1 Arsenal 0: Gunners go empty-handed
PUBLISHED: 19:41 19 August 2017 | UPDATED: 19:42 19 August 2017
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Arsenal slumped to defeat at Stoke, as Jese Rodriguez struck a superb debut winner for the hosts.
The former Real Madrid forward, who joined the Potters on a season-long loan from Paris St Germain this week, netted the only goal of the game after 47 minutes at the newly-expanded bet365 Stadium.
Arsenal were aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty in the first half and Alexandre Lacazette had an effort ruled out for offside among a host of other chances created by the visitors.
Jack Butland was also impressive in the home goal as Stoke claimed their first points of the season, but Arsene Wenger’s side will wonder how they came away with nothing.
The Gunners controlled a lot of the game and the likes of Aaron Ramsey – who received his usual booing treatment from the Stoke fans – and Granit Xhaka shone in midfield.
Arsenal had a deliberate ploy to chip the ball over the Stoke defence and it created a few openings.
Lacazette teed up Ramsey in such fashion but Mame Biram Diouf did enough to knock the midfielder off his stride and his shot was a tame one.
Diouf, however, was lucky not to concede a penalty when Arsenal tried this mode of attack again and he appeared to bring down Hector Bellerin. Referee Andre Marriner gave only a corner.
Danny Welbeck also got behind the defence from a clever dinked ball but Butland denied him.
For all the Gunners’ composure in possession, they were vulnerable to the counter-attack.
Stoke were starved of possession but Jese served warning of his threat with a powerful run to set up Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who was making his first start, but Petr Cech saved comfortably.
Choupo-Moting then turned provider but Ryan Shawcross headed his cross over.
Butland again had to be alert to smother a chance from Ramsey after Mesut Ozil floated a free-kick into the area and the Stoke keeper also saved a long-range Xhaka effort.
Stoke made a more positive start to the second half and were instantly rewarded as Jese started and finished the move that broke the deadlock.
The Spaniard carried the ball forward from inside his own half, exchanged passes with Saido Berahino – an early replacement for the injured Xherdan Shaqiri – and beat Petr Cech with a low shot across goal.
Berahino, still looking for his first Stoke goal, might have added to the lead but Cech palmed over his awkward bouncing header.
Welbeck had opportunities at the other end but first mistimed a header and then failed to get a clean shot away under pressure from defenders before Ozil had an attempt blocked.
Arsenal upped the tempo, sending on Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott while Stoke withdrew Jese, and Lacazette rifled in a shot, only to turn and see a flag raised.
Wenger’s men pressed on – annoying Stoke by not putting the ball out after Erik Pieters went down injured – but the hosts stood firm.
Arsenal: Cech, Mustafi, Monreal, Kolasinac (Giroud 66), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Xhaka (Iwobi 79), Bellerin, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette (Walcott 79).
Unused subs: Mertesacker, Ospina, Coquelin, Elneny.
Referee: Andre Marriner.