The Arsenal futures of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez remain in doubt but the duo proved key to avoiding a potential slip-up in their English Premier League top-four ambitions at a historic bogey ground with a 4-1 win over Stoke City.
Ozil and Sanchez will be out of contract at Arsenal at the end of next season and negotiations over extensions have been stalling, but they proved their worth with a goal each to send the Gunners one point behind fourth-placed Liverpool, who take on West Ham on Sunday. After Olivier Giroud‘s 42nd-minute opener, the pair combined for a sensational second – Sanchez’s pinpoint pass finding Ozil in the box and the German obliged with a lovely dink beyond Jack Butland. Stoke pulled a goal back in controversial fashion as substitute Peter Crouch steered Marko Arnautovic‘s cross into the back of the net with his hand, but Sanchez eased Arsenal’s nerves when his deflected strike found the bottom-left corner with 14 minutes remaining. Prior to scoring his 50th Premier League goal the Chilean signalled to the bench that he was experiencing discomfort in his left thigh and he was swiftly substituted, and his replacement Aaron Ramsey set up Giroud for his second – the Frenchman justifying his selection ahead of Danny Welbeck.
The result means that should Liverpool fail to pick up maximum points at London Stadium, Arsenal will qualify for next season’s Champions League by winning their final two home games against Sunderland and Everton.