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Mesut Ozil starred as Arsenal stretched their winning sequence to four consecutive Barclays Premier League matches with a 3-1 victory over Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium.
The Germany international had a hand in all three of his side’s goals on his home debut as Arsene Wenger's men eased to a comfortable win that sent them top of the Premier League.
Ozil's free-kick was parried into the path of Aaron Ramsey to score a fifth-minute opener, before Geoff Cameron cancelled that out for Stoke.
Per Mertesacker put Arsenal back in front at the break, with Ozil supplying the assist, before the club-record signing was on hand again to supply the third for Bacary Sagna to head in his first goal since February 2012 with 18 minutes left.
The only change for the hosts came just prior to the match, with Serge Gnabry called up as a late replacement for Theo Walcott, who was laid low with illness.
Mikel Arteta and Nicklas Bendtner both made their first appearances of the season on the bench. For the visitors, Marko Arnautovic made his first start for the club in place of Matthew Etherington.
Arsenal had won their last six in all competitions going into the clash and they were ahead within five minutes through Ramsey.
Ozil's free-kick was parried away by Asmir Begovic and Ramsey followed up to finish at the near post and claim his fourth goal in three games.
Stoke responded well, and they were level through Cameron after 26 minutes, with the American coolly slotting home from outside the area. Arnautovic saw his volleyed effort come back off the post, with the defender latching onto the rebound to put his side level.
Parity lasted just 10 minutes, though, and as Arsenal pressed forward, they were rewarded once again with the lead when Mertesacker put them back in front nine minutes before the break with his first goal of the season.
Ozil was the architect again as he swung in a corner and Germany international Mertesacker headed towards the far post, with the ball creeping in despite the efforts of the scrambling Begovic.
Olivier Giroud forced an impressive save from Begovic seven minutes after the break, following good work from Gnabry, before the French striker curled an effort over from inside the area soon afterwards.
Marc Wilson then had a sight on goal for Stoke just after the hour mark, but Wojciech Szczesny was equal to it and the Pole was soon required again, gathering a dangerous delivery from Steven N'Zonzi as the visitors applied pressure.
However, Arsenal went two goals clear courtesy of another header after 72 minutes, with Sagna getting his name on the scoresheet as he met another Ozil delivery and looped his header over Begovic and into the far corner.
Ozil was withdrawn to a standing ovation after 79 minutes, with Arteta on in his place, as Arsenal closed out the game to move top of the table.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "When you look at [Mesut Ozil's] numbers, his assists are not a coincidence, they are a reality of his game. I believe once he is fully integrated we will see even more from him. You could see today he has a good pace as well. At the moment he focuses a lot on his passing but he can create individually as well."
"We had two halves. In the first we were fluent and [we played] well going forward. In the second half we looked jaded physically and lost our technical quality, but we showed another aspect – that we can dig deep and fight when we are a bit under pressure.
"It's been a very good week for us because we won in Marseille [in the UEFA Champions League], we won in Sunderland and we won today, so overall it's been a very positive week. When you play Stoke, you don't expect to score three goals from set-pieces but it shows us how important the delivery is."
Stoke manager Mark Hughes: "We're disappointed to have lost three goals from set-plays. I don't think Arsenal over the years have scored many goals from set-plays, certainly not three in one game. Against us it's more galling, I think.
"Yes, we're disappointed but we certainly made a right fist of it and I think we tried to get the ball down, passed and moved and tried to pull them out.
"Just prior to their third goal I thought we had total control of the game and they looked tired, given that they had a tough game in midweek. I thought we created opportunities.
"As it was, the third goal really knocked the stuffing out of us and it was very difficult for us to get back on terms then. But I thought up to that point we were always in the game and playing the right way."
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|08 Feb 2014||v Liverpool (A)|
|02 Nov 2013||v Liverpool (H)|
|22 Feb 2014||v Sunderland (H)|