Jese Rodriguez scored a memorable debut goal as Stoke City edged Arsenal 1-0 in their Premier League encounter at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday night.
Signed on loan from Paris Saint-Germain earlier in the week, the fleet-footed striker made an instant impact on his start, finishing off a flowing move involving strike partner Saido Berahino in the 47th-minute to give the Potters their first win of the Premier League season.
Stoke were winless against Arsenal in their past six meetings and after an opening day loss to Everton, were desperate to get their Premier League campaign on track.
The club have made a raft of signings in recent seasons as they seek to rise above their mid-table status, but despite the considerable outlay, precious little has been achieved.
Manager Mark Hughes knew that and sent out 3-4-3 formation, somewhat mirroring Arsenal’s own.
The visitors, as expected, dominated possession, but Stoke always looked dangerous when they had the ball and new boy Jese tested Petr Cech early on.
Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal gave Shkodran Mustafi company in a three-man defence but the full-backs never looked comfortable against the pacy forwards Stoke had at their disposal.
Xherdan Shaqiri went down in the 23rd minute with an injury and Berahino replaced the stocky Swiss but Stoke’s momentum wasn’t disrupted despite the substitution.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, in a wing-back role, was the best Gunners player on the pitch and his bursts of acceleration on the wing were stretching Stoke’s back-line.
At the interval, the Gunners had enjoyed the better half by a slight margin but with Jack Butland standing firm in the Stoke goal, there was no goal with 45 minutes played.
And Stoke were fast off the blocks, stunning Arsenal with a breakaway goal as their forwards combined to devastating effect. Jese, who reportedly had just one training session before the game, latched on to Berahinho’s pass and his first-time finish with his left foot from a tight angle was a timely reminder of his qualities.
After a few seasons spent with on the sidelines at PSG and Real Madrid, question marks about the Spaniard’s quality had been raised but the early signs are positive that the 24-year-old can relaunch his career in England.
Arsenal’s record signing, Alexandre Lacazette, was kept quiet by Stoke’s physical defence and was unable to build on his debut goal against Leicester City on the opening weekend. The Frenchman was unlucky, however, to see a goal ruled out for offside. Replays suggested that it was an extremely tight decision and really could have gone either way.
Mesut Ozil too, was having an off day and while Wenger made a number of changes as the second-half progressed, there was to be no late flourish this time.
The Gunners will have to pick themselves up and hope to bounce back in their next game, a difficult away tie against Liverpool on August 27 while Stoke will look to keep their winning momentum intact when they take on Rochdale in the League cup on Wednesday.
In the earlier games on Saturday, Manchester United thrashed Swansea 4-0 to go top of the table, Liverpool edged Crystal Palace 1-0 and Leicester City beat Brighton 2-0. West Ham United went down 3-2 to Southampton, Watford beat Bournemouth 2-0 and West Brom nicked a 1-0 win at Burnley.