The Frenchman started and finished the scoring to take his tally to 16 for the season as the Gunners continued their rich-vein of form with a sixth win in seven outings in all competitions.
Mesut Ozil and the mercurial Alexis Sanchez were also on target as the visitors eventually made their superiority count to move a point behind fourth-placed Liverpool with two matches to play.
Substitute Peter Crouch had threatened to drag the Potters back into it at 2-0 when he appeared to handle the ball into the net, but a controversial moment didn’t have an impact on the outcome as Arsenal finally won at Stoke for the first time since 2010.
Liverpool still have the initiative in the race for the Champions league places, but know that any slip against West Ham on Sunday could let the Gunners in when they host already-relegated Sunderland on Tuesday evening.
Arsenal’s Champions League hopes are alive and kicking – but would it be enough for the fans?
The Gunners’ bid for a 21st straight season of dining at Europe’s top table have looked bleak in the past few months – but now they are on a charge. Liverpool have faltered and if the Merseysiders slip up at West Ham on Sunday, the door will open for Wenger to sneak into the top four once again. For most clubs finishing in the Champions League places and reaching the FA Cup final would be enough, but Gunners still feel they have not lived up to expectations. After the Bayern Munich humbling Wenger’s future looked in major doubt, but the Frenchman may well end up doing enough to fight on. Watch this space.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – Quite simply the Gunners’ talisman. Provided a sensational pass for Ozil’s goal and scored the match-clinching third despite appearing to pick up a knock.
STOKE CITY: Butland 7, Johnson 5, Shawcross 6, Martins Indi 6, Pieters 6, Whelan 6, Cameron 6, Allen 6, Arnautovic 7, Diouf 5, Shaqiri 6. Subs: Berahino 7, Crouch 7, Sobhi n/a.
ARSENAL: Cech 6, Holding 7, Mustafi 7, Koscielny 7, Bellerin 8, Coquelin 7, Xhaka 7, Monreal 8, Sanchez 8, Giroud 7, Ozil 7. Subs: Ramsey 6, Walcott n/a, Welbeck n/a.
Matchcast: Full match stats and commentary
70′ – ARSENAL HIT THE POST. Monreal ghosts into space but sees his header from Bellerin’s deflected cross cannon back off the woodwork.
42′ – GOAL! STOKE 0-1 ARSENAL. Bellerin sprints free on the right and puts a low cross on a plate for Giroud to tap home from close range.
55′ – GOAL! STOKE 0-2 ARSENAL. The visitors double their advantage. Ozil plays a sublime one-two with Sanchez and coolly clips the ball over Butland.
59‘ – STOKE CHANCE. Arnautovic surges free on the left and fires in cross that Diouf can only guide wide from six yards out. Stoke almost back in it!
67′ – GOAL! STOKE 1-2 ARSENAL. Crouch loves playing against Arsenal – and he’s got Stoke right back in this. The towering forward gets to the near post to meet Arnautovic’s cross, but it looked like it may have gone in off his hand!
76′ – GOAL! STOKE 1-3 ARSENAL. Sanchez restores Arsenal’s two-goal cushion. The forward was hobbling just moments ago, but takes a pass in his stride and drills a low shot in off the far post.
80′ – GOAL! STOKE 1-4 ARSENAL. It’s four! Giroud slides Ramsey’s ball into the net after the Welshman had raced to the right of the area and cut it back for the striker.
Alexis Sanchez is the first player to record double figures for both goals (21) & assists (10) in the premier League this season.
Sanchez has scored 15 away league goals this season; only Kevin Phillips (16 in 99/00) has more in a single PL campaign.
Only Thierry Henry (83) and Ian Wright (87) netted 50 PL goals for Arsenal in fewer appearances than Alexis Sánchez (101).
Giroud’s first goal was the first time Arsenal have opened the scoring in a Premier League game at Stoke City.
The Sanchez to Ozil combination has provided five PL goals this season, only Swansea‘s Sigurdsson to Llorente (6) have combined for more.
Crouch scored his ninth PL goal against Arsenal – only Wayne Rooney (11) & Robbie Fowler (10) have scored more v The Gunners.