Mesut Ozil’s looping header sent Arsenal rising to the English Premier League summit with a 3-1 victory over Stoke on Saturday, capping a strong week for Arsene Wenger’s side.
Arsenal had to come from behind after Charlie Adam converted a 29th-minute penalty but looked more convincing after Theo Walcott’s equalizer just before halftime. Ozil’s header on the other side of the break put Arsenal in front and Alex Iwobi netted the goal in the 75th minute that pushed his team top on goal difference ahead of Chelsea, which plays West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
The only concern for Wenger will be Arsenal’s solitary clean sheet in its last 10 games in all competitions. But the north London club has quickly moved on from an erratic November with a trio of victories at the start of December. After overpowering West Ham 5-1 last week, Arsenal won 4-1 at Basel on Tuesday to secure top spot in its Champions League group for the first time in five years.
Stoke profited from a contentiously awarded penalty after Granit Xhaka caught Joe Allen with his elbow and Adam converted from the spot.
But a slick move down the right flank carved open Stoke for the equalizer. Alexis Sanchez passed to Hector Bellerin, whose cross was turned in at the far post by Walcott.
Four minutes into the second half, Stoke’s defense was static as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s delicately placed chip flew over them and the unmarked Ozil’s header flew over goalkeeper Lee Grant. It was the first time Ozil has scored in successive league games in 22 months.
Stoke substitute Peter Crouch missed a chance to equalize before Iwobi wrapped up the victory.
Sanchez was tripped as he cut into the penalty area, but referee Lee Mason allowed play to continue as Iwobi burst into the penalty area and regained the ball before netting his first goal of the league campaign.