Giroud double helps Arsenal beat Stoke 4-1 in Premier League
STOKE, England (AP) — Olivier Giroud scored twice and Alexis Sanchez netted his 50th English Premier League goal as Arsenal beat Stoke 4-1 to maintain its push for Champions League qualification on Saturday.
Mesut Ozil grabbed the other goal for Arsenal, whose swagger is returning as it attempts to hunt down Liverpool and Manchester City for a top-four finish.
Arsenal stayed fifth but climbed to within one point of fourth-placed Liverpool and three of third-placed City with two matches remaining.
Only last month, Arsenal’s Champions League dream looked over after a demoralizing 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace, which sparked angry protests from fans against manager Arsene Wenger. Since then, however, the team has won five of six league games in what has become a familiar late-season charge.
In the last five years, no Premier League team has a better record in April and May than Arsenal.
Giroud got the nod ahead of Danny Welbeck as the starting striker for a fixture in which Arsenal has struggled in recent years, and responded with close-range goals in either half to book-end an impressive display from the visitors.
Giroud tapped home Hector Bellerin’s cross in the 42nd minute to put Arsenal ahead, and slid in to convert substitute Aaron Ramsey’s low center in the 80th.
In between, Sanchez slid in a brilliant through-ball for Ozil to take a touch and finish well in the 55th.
Sanchez scored himself in the 76th — moments after signaling to come off with an apparent left thigh injury — when he burst into the area and fired in a shot that deflected in off the post. He hobbled off as he was celebrating his milestone goal.
Stoke’s reply came through substitute Peter Crouch in the 67th, which made it 2-1. The striker appeared to punch the ball into the net from Marko Arnautivic’s cross but the goal was allowed.