Arsenal 4 Stoke 1: Van's the man as Gunners end season in style
24 May 2009 08:10
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Arsenal swept aside Stoke with three quick first-half goals to sign off instyle from a difficult Barclays Premier League campaign.
An own goal from James Beattie, making his 300th league appearance, was swiftlyfollowed up by a penalty from Robin van Persie and Abou Diaby's bullet header.
Stoke, safe from any last-day relegation drama, pulled a goal back from thespot through Ricardo Fuller, only for Rory Delap to then gift Van Persie hissecond four minutes before half-time.
Arsenal, already secure in fourth place following a 21-match unbeaten run, hadlittle other than somewhat wounded pride left to play for after going out ofboth the FA Cup and Champions League at the semi-final stage.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is now certain to strengthen his squad over thesummer as he looks to claw back the 18-point gap on champions Manchester United.
Chants of "there is only one Arsene Wenger" rang out around Emirates Stadium before kick off, as the home fans showed their united appreciation for the French coach who has endured one of the most testing of his 12 campaigns at the helm, but allayed fears he was set to quit for Real Madrid.
There was an early opening for Stoke when Delap's long throw into the penalty area was headed wide by Ryan Shawcross.
Theo Walcott got away down the right and cut the ball back to Denilson, whose 20-yard shot was well saved by Steve Simonsen.