A match that had four goals and not much else ends. Arsenal were below par today but here's the thing: they found a way to win, scoring from three set-pieces, and Mesut Ozil got, hmmm, two and a half assists on his home debut. Greater tests await Arsenal, of course. Stoke played in fits and starts and took their goal well but their defending for Arsenal's goals was atrocious and they are still a limited side going forward. So Arsenal go top. How long will they stay there? Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.
Full-time: Arsenal 3-1 Stoke
Arsenal are top.
90 min+3: Ramsey almost scores again. Miyachi won the ball in Stoke's half and finds Giroud who, in turn, spots Ramsey to his right. He holds off Ireland, spins and hammers a rising shot which Begovic turns over for a corner, which Arsenal deign not to score.
90 min+2: Arsenal's fans are celebrating being top of the league. It won't be long before Everton have taken their rightful place at the top of the pile though.
90 min+1: Stephen Ireland is booked for fouling Mikel Arteta and not even a sob story about his grandmother can save him from Mike Dean's wrath.
90 min: Both sides have been playing out time since Arsenal's third. It's amazing how little can happen for long stretches in a football match.
88 min: QPR weren't very good at defending set-pieces under Mark Hughes.
86 min: Without playing well, Arsenal are going top of the league. Is there a cliche that can be applied here?
Juan Mata Shinji Kagawa also isn't playing for United.
80 min: Mesut Ozil's home debut is over. Mikel Arteta is on.
79 min: Apparently Robin van Persie is out of this afternoon's Manchester derby with an injury.
77 min: Pennant curls the corner to the near post. Walters flicks it on but Shawcross's volley is deflected over. From the second corner, Pennant's cross is headed harmlessly wide by Shawcross.
76 min: Pennant's first contribution is a clever disguised path to Wilson, whose cross from the left is deflected behind for a corner to Stoke on the left.
75 min: Jermaine Pennant, who once scored a hat-trick for Arsenal, replaces Kenwyne Jones.
74 min: Arnautovic, who can make things happen when he gets the ball, gets the ball and tries to make something happen with a shot from 25 yards. Szczesny dives to his right to save and hold.
73 min: That's the cue for Arsenal to bring on Nacho Monreal and Ryo Miyachi for Jack Wilshere and Serge Gnabry.
GOAL! Arsenal 3-1 Stoke (Sagna, 72 min)
Arsenal get that third and, you're not going to believe this, it's another from a set-piece. It's also another assist for Mesut Ozil. He curled a free-kick to the far post from the left and Sagna loops a header over the despairing Begovic and into the far corner. How very strange. Is Arsene Wenger going to whip off a mask and reveal it's really Sam Allardyce in the Arsenal dug-out?
69 min: Arsenal might need a third goal here. They're inviting pressure. Another cross from Cameron is put behind for a corner by Flamini. Again, though, the corner is a waste.
68 min: Stoke are pressing. Cameron curves a low cross towards the far post and Szczesny plunges upon it in the six-yard box to deny Walters.
67 min: Wilson Palacios replaces Erik Pieters and is afforded a warm welcome as a former Tottenham player.
65 min: Wilshere is down. Poor Jack. To compound issues, he's got grass in his mouth.
64 min: Arsenal deal with the corner.
63 min: So nearly the moment Arsenal's fans are craving. Ozil breaks into the Stoke area on the right but fires straight at Begovic from an angle. Up the other end, Wilson lets fly from range and forces Szczesny to parry his fizzing shot wide for a corner. Meanwhile I've just remembered that Robert Huth played Stamper in Tomorrow Never Dies.
60 min: "Spot on regarding Huth, Jacob," says Duncan Brown. "Consistently, cynically, dangerously dirty. Is there a nastier piece of work in the premiership? Does he even qualify as a footballer?" He's a good defender, I guess, but you have to question what goes through his head at times. He'd make a very good henchman in a James Bond film.
59 min: Charlie Adam, who has been poor, has the face on as he's replaced by Stephen Ireland. Remember him?
57 min: Ozil ghosts past Cameron, darting towards the Stoke area. He rolls the ball to the right for Giroud, who blasts his shot into orbit. It was clear to see what he was trying to do - curl the ball into the far corner with his right foot - but he leant back.
56 min: Huth is soon clattering into Giroud from behind, conceding a free-kick around 35 yards out. Shawcross heads Ozil's free-kick away. "At least they have the decency to still boo Shawcross," says Linda Howard. "I don't know how Ramsey doesn't suffer panic attacks everytime he hears Shawcross' voice. All I'd hear is "Crunch, crunch." Ah, the resilience of youth."
55 min: Huth was booked, by the way.
53 min: Robert Huth, a disgrace of a footballer, knocks over young Gnabry with one of his charming agricultural challenges. He's a piece of work. It all came from a terrible pass from Adam, who put his team in trouble by playing a blind pass straight to Gnabry. The youngster found Giroud but couldn't support him because he was flattened by Huth, the big galoot. The referee played advantage though and Giroud brought an excellent save out of Begovic with a fierce drive from the edge of the area. Arsenal do not score from the corner.
51 min: Stoke are enjoying a decent spell of possession, without getting near the Arsenal area.
50 min: Swansea have doubled their lead at Selhurst Park. Nathan Dyer has their second and it's Crystal Palace 0-2 Swansea.
49 min: Gnabry cuts in from the right flank and cracks a left-footed drive straight at Begovic from the edge of the area.
48 min: It's a sloppy, low-key start to the second half.
46 min: The second half begins. "My dad has switched off the Arsenal game and is making me watch Barcelona's match from yesterday," says Karen Brigden. "As an Arsenal fan of some 30 years this pees me off no end. If anyone can think of a way to exact revenge I would be much obliged." Tell him you're adopted.
"The atmosphere in the emirates is like that of a tennis match....silence and occasional bursts of cheering, protesting or celebrating," says Nick SP. "English stadiums seem passionless nowadays. Maybe it´s because football in some areas is now a yuppy sport...the peeps are half watching the game and half checking their iphones. Not only that but people now seem dumbdowned more than ever....watch videos of fans 20 years ago and they´re lively!"
It's unsettlingly quiet today. Home crowds aren't usually that loud in the Premier League but this is on another level. There have been long periods without a peep from anyone. I suppose that's what happens when ticket prices are so offensively expensive.
Half-time: Arsenal 2-1 Stoke
A strange half. Arsenal, without ever playing with any intensity, have scored twice from set-pieces against Stoke, who have provided the only moment of real quality. See you in 15 minutes.
45 min+3: In which nothing is occurring.
45 min: There will be three minutes of added time.
44 min: The physios are on for Mertesacker and Jones, who are both down after a clash of heads.
43 min: Ozil embarrasses Wilson on the left but he can't find Giroud with his cutback.
40 min: Gnabry sends Ozil on a dreamy, loping run down the right flank. He dribbles into the area and lays it back to Gnabry, who's falling as he skews his left-footed shot high and wide from 18 yards out.
39 min: Giroud plays a cracking one-two with Wilshere but isn't quick enough to reach the return pass before Begovic.
38 min: All we need now is for Arsenal to bring on Rory Delap.
GOAL! Arsenal 2-1 Stoke (Mertesacker, 36 min)
Arsenal have now scored from two set-pieces against Stoke. What bizarro world are we in? Having threatened a few minutes ago, Mertesacker now has his goal. Ozil floated a corner from the right towards the big German. He was around 12 yards from goal and although there was no real pace on the cross he rose above Nzonzi and directed a header through the bodies and towards the far post, where Koscielny did enough to put Begovic off. Koscielny threw himself at the ball but got nothing on it and it just fell into the back of the net, almost in slow motion.
33 min: It's not quite clicked for Arsenal. They're missing Walcott's pace; without wishing to be harsh, Gnabry hasn't offered the same threat. They've struggled to get in behind Stoke's defence. They've played a lot of football in front of it.
32 min: The goal has stung Arsenal into life. Ozil and Wilshere combine daintily on the edge of the area and Wilshere drops a shoulder to make space for the shot, only to see his drive deflected wide by Pieters (who looks like a good signing, by the way). From Ozil's corner, Mertesacker flicks it goalwards at the near post but it's headed away by a random Stoke defender before it can cross the line.
30 min: Arsenal up the pace and Wilshere slips a pass through to Giroud. He's in a central position but perhaps takes a millisecond too long to shoot. When he does, Huth/Shawcross* throws himself in front of the ball to deny him.
*delete as applicable.
29 min: Stoke, without doing a lot, deserve that goal, if only because Arsenal hadn't done much to merit theirs. The visitors had been exerting a level of control on the match in the minutes leading up to their equaliser.
28 min: Suddenly Arsenal are rocking. Kenwyne Jones is in behind the Arsenal defence but a loose first touch allows Mertesacker to intervene.
GOAL! Arsenal 1-1 Stoke (Cameron, 26 min)
Out of nothing, Stoke score a superb equaliser. Nzonzi clipped a wonderful first-time pass from right to left over Mertesacker and through to Arnautovic, who watched the ball fly over his head and on to his left foot. He didn't bother to bring it down and instead opened up his foot to cushion a fine effort against the right post from eight yards out. The rebound came back to Cameron on the edge of the area and he controlled a splendid shot into the bottom-left corner with barely a moment's thought.
25 min: A fancy bit of footwork from Gibbs on the edge of the area, as he tricks his way past Walters, is followed by a dismal shot with his right foot. It's still going. "Sadly, I belong to the same 'technical' generation as, say, the Fiver, so am uncertain how to replicate wondrous and exotic squiggly letters I know and love from other tongues," says Alex Whitney. "Or at least, my baby seal-killing iPad refuses to do the Romanian 't' that represents the sound 'ts,' so no love in Cupertino for the Romanians then. And as far as Ramsey, mouthwatering to think that he gets to learn from Özil firsthand the next couple years. Deelish."
23 min: If Charlie Adam's free-kicks are worth £10m then this free-kick was worth around 3p. He slams it disappointingly in the wall but Stoke are adept at keeping the ball in and around the area. Eventually, after a spot of head tennis, Gibbs slices a fairly panicky clearance behind for a corner, which is nutted away by Mertesacker.
22 min: Now then, here's a chance for Stoke. Arnautovic holds the ball up well on the left and then rolls a cute pass into the path of Adam, whose run had gone unchecked by Ramsey. He's knocked over by Sagna just outside the area on the left. Stoke have a free-kick in a very dangerous position.
21 min: The ground is so quiet I think you can make out a man eating a bag of crisps at the top of the stand.
19 min: Stoke are actually defending well, though, which will make it even more galling that they let in such a sloppy goal. Arsenal haven't done much beyond Ramsey's goal and haven't had a shot since then. Ozil has been quiet. "Turkish has 2 "i", one with the dot and one without the dot (and I'm not Turkish), Fatih Terim has the one with the dot which is pronounced like an "i" in French or Spanish," says John David. "Without the dot its more like... too difficult to describe in words. Burak Yılmaz is the one without the dot but unless you have watched Turkish TV you will not have heard it pronounced properly." This is a very educational afternoon. And oh so very Guardian.
18 min: Wilson hoicks an up-and-under into the Arsenal area and Szczesny does well to claim with Jones sniffing about. "As an Arsenal fan, I've always felt that Bendtner's best trait was that he was not a confidence player," says Tanay Padhi. "I remember him missing about three hundred chances in the Premier League one weekend(might have been Birmingham), getting all sorts of stick, only to score a hat-trick against Porto in the Champions' League knock-outs three days later."
16 min: Stoke are miserably short of ambition out there. It's a bit like Fulham at Stamford Bridge yesterday; perfectly happy to sleepwalk their way to a dignified defeat. Only, is there really any dignity in not bothering to attack properly? It's making for a very low-key occasion.
15 min: "I was at the net, that's why I didn't run," yawns Tom Lutz, lazing about in the Australian sun, the git.
14 min: Here's the first real glimpse of Gnabry, who scampers towards the right byline and wins a corner off Pieters. Ozil's corner is easily claimed by Begovic. If only he'd been so sure with his handling with Ozil's free-kick.
13 min: Ah, Stoke. They appear to be targeting Wilshere at the moment. He's just taken another buffeting from Nzonzi, raising the hackles of the Arsenal fans, who aren't appreciating the rough treatment being dished out to their favourite son.
12 min: Stoke have been fairly abysmal so far. Arsenal are pipe-and-slippers comfortable. To clarify, Walcott is not on the bench for Arsenal. "I can do you one better than 3," says Ben Young. "The Russian letter щ can be pronounced as shch. Ok, it's not and accent but then neither is ß."
10 min: Jack Wilshere is grimacing and feeling his thigh. I'm not sure if he pulled something or if he took a knock. He just can't catch a break at the moment. The right breaks, anyway. "What about the funny Turkish mini capital "i" which isn't really a capital "i" but makes all your typing on a Turkish keyboard really hard?" says Ross Fitzgerald. "It's how you know to pronounce the unofficial Kurdish capital in Turkey of Diyarbakir without an "eer" sound at the end. I think. I'm not Turkish though, or Kurdish, so I really have no idea. Not sure which players have it in their name I'm afraid. (If I was Turkish I would know some I bet.)"
9 min: Stoke fans cheer ironically after being awarded a free-kick. Meanwhile it emerges that Walcott was ill yesterday but that cleared up and his absence is actually because of a minor abdominal injury. I think the Sky reporter said he's on the bench and available if required, which he's not at the moment.
8 min: "With the possible exception of Christophe Duggary and Nigel Gleghorn, Bendtner is the best player I have ever seen in a Birmingham City shirt," says Tom Lutz. "So much better than anyone else he didn't even need to run when he played for us. At least I think that's why he wasn't running."
Tom was a bit like that when I played tennis with him. We still downed Bakwoski and McCourt in straight sets though.
7 min: At Selhurst Park, Swansea have taken the lead against Crystal Palace thanks to a goal from Michu.
GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Stoke (Ramsey, 5 min)
Aaron Ramsey does it again. Incredible. He cannot stop scoring. He's the Welsh Gareth Bale! It was indeed Ozil who took the free-kick. It was to the right of the D, made for a left-footer. He curled it low round the wall and Begovic dived low to his right to push it out but only as far as Ramsey, who finished clinically with his left foot. He saunters off towards the Stoke fans with his finger to his lips and a smug look on his face. An assist of sorts for Ozil.
4 min: Wilshere bursts through the middle and he's brought down around 25 yards from goal in a central position. Ozil stands over it. What an introduction this would be.
3 min: It is so quiet inside the Emirates. Before the match, Ozil said he's expecting a great atmosphere. I'm not sure he did his research that well. "Am I the only one who is fond of Nicklas Bendtner?" says Justin Davies. He's certainly unique. I enjoy him.
2 min: Giroud tries to flick a header to Gnabry. He's fouled. A chance for Arsenal to lump a free-kick into the box. They do not.
Football! Stoke get the game underway, kicking from right to left in the first half. Shawcross, who is being booed, swiftly looks for Jones, who can't find Walters on the edge of the Arsenal area.
Here come the teams. The camera focuses on Serge Gnabry, now one of three Germans in the Arsenal side. Ryo Miyachi is also on the Arsenal bench because of Walcott's late withdrawal. "The Russian Щ originally stood for the 'shch' sound, but now is more frequently pronounced 'shsh'," says Christopher Price. "If Szczesny were to write his name out in Russian he would begin with the Щ. Also, in Polish that E in his name is a nasal and written like ę."
Arsenal fans do banter.
"What are the odds of The Greatest Striker That Ever Lived being an 80th minute impact sub and scoring the winner?" says Fintan Beirne.
BREAKING TEAM NEWS
Theo Walcott has fallen ill and Serge Gnabry, an 18-year-old German, is in the Arsenal side. They think very highly of Gnabry at Arsenal but this does highlight their squad's lack of depth.
"I must say I quite like the "í"," says a man who prefers to remain nameless. Let's call him Heisenberg. "It is like a Morandi painting, so subtle that you hardly notice the difference between it and the common "i" … at first glance they look the same (like 2 Morandi still lives) but then on closer inspection … ah yes … used in Spanish to denote an accent on that particular vowel in a word. But then again, maybe I like it as it forms part of my Spanish girlfriend's first name and thus I believe I'm biased. As for least favourite … don't really have one … have always felt that languages without are a touch bland when seen written down."
"It's got to be the Czech Ř," says Christopher Crawford. "Czechs are very proud of it and it's unique to their language. The pronunciation is something like a tangling of tongues at the bastard marriage of the English r and z."
"The Icelandic (and Old English) letter Thorn (Þ, þ) has always been a favorite," says Sergio. "If I am correct, it is the only letter with an ascender and descender. It also sounds and looks 'tough', if an accent is allowed to do so."
An update on the greatest striker in the world
Nicklas Bendtner, on the bench this afternoon, last scored in the Premier League for Arsenal 999 days ago, a draw with Wigan on 29 December 2010. Do you ever find yourself wondering what might have been different if Bendtner had scored that chance against Barcelona? I rarely do.
"Talking accents, I've always been a fan of what I unculturally (if that's a word) call the big b (ß) apparently actually called the eszett," says Tom Webster. "Representing 2 letters in one, that's a win in my book."
Is there an accent that can represent three letters in one? Or is that greedy?
Team news. Arsenal are unchanged but one of their missing Spaniards, Mikel Arteta, is back on the bench after injury. Santi Cazorla is still out for another two to three weeks though. Stoke give a first start to their new Austrian striker, Marko Arnautovic.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini, Ramsey; Walcott, Ozil, Wilshere; Giroud. Subs: Viviano, Jenkinson, Vermaelene, Arteta, Monreal, BENDTNER, Gnabry.
Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters; Walters, Wilson, Nzonzi, Adam, Arnautovic; Jones. Subs: Sorensen, Whelan, Pennant, Palacios, Crouch, Etherington, Ireland.
Referee: Mike Dean.
Is the umlaut your favourite foreign accent? I think the ç is up there. What's your favourite accent? What's your least favourite accent? What's the sexiest accent? Let's get linguistical.
Hello. There should be a bit of needle to this match: Arsenal don’t like Stoke, Stoke don’t like Arsenal, Arsene Wenger has never seemed to be that fond of Mark Hughes and the feeling is mutual. But, for all that, this might not be as much of a culture clash as in previous seasons. Under Tony Pulis, Stoke were a tedious eyesore, based around a tiresome reliance on throw-ins and set-pieces, but there have been tentative attempts to develop a more nuanced style under Hughes. Do not mistake them for the second coming of Barcelona, though, even if they did sign a player from the Nou Camp this summer: Stoke still have that formidable defence but their physicality can be used as a basis to provide a platform for someone like Charlie Adam to pull the strings in midfield. They were very good at West Ham recently and should have beaten Manchester City last week.
But Arsenal are also in form. It would, of course, be very Arsenal if they didn't win this. But maybe we are seeing a new Arsenal, an Arsenal that is capable of winning a record 10 away games on the trot. Since that traumatic defeat at home to Aston Villa on the opening day, they have been excellent, impressive in wins over Fenerbahce, Fulham, Tottenham, Sunderland and Marseille. Öh, and they've signed Mesut Özil, whö will be förmally intröduced tö the Emirates töday; can he dö it ön a warm Sunday afternöön in nörth Löndön against Stöke? Öne can önly imagine. It is, of course, to be höped that Arsenal's fans have all cöme dressed as umlauts.
There are those who say that Ozil isn't what Arsenal needed but that's pure poppycock. Everyone needs Mesut Ozil. You can never have enough Mesut Ozil in your life. Mesut Ozil Mesut Ozil Mesut Ozil. There. Ozil. Arsenal do need another centre-back, back-up for the improving Olivier Giroud and Wojciech Szczesny has been a bit flap-happy lately but they have a very good side, if not a great squad. The midfield, at its best, is surely as good as any in England and Aaron Ramsey's critics have gone very quiet all of a sudden. Amazing how it's taken him so long to recover the outstanding form he was showing before suffering a career-threatening injury as a teenager - I believe he is well acquainted with Stoke. Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere in central midfield? It's enough to make you envious. Tottenham will do very well to finish above Arsenal this season.