Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League thanks to a point from a goalless draw at Stoke. Arsene Wenger’s side missed the creativity of Mesut Ozil, who was injured, but had chances to win the game only to be denied by Jack Butland. The England goalkeeper tipped over Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s long-range strike, before denying Olivier Giroud’s header.
Stoke finished strongly as Jon Walters had a late header cleared off the line by Aaron Ramsey. The draw means Arsenal move ahead of Leicester on goal difference. Stoke remain seventh.
Arsenal have started 2016 well poised to challenge for a first league title in 12 years, and key to their impressive form this season has been Ozil. The German tops the Premier League assist chart with 16, so his absence yesterday because of a foot injury was undoubtedly a big blow for the Gunners.
It did, however, provide Oxlade-Chamberlain with the chance to step up. He certainly looked like he had a point to prove, forcing Butland into a fine one-handed save with a curling strike midway through the first half.
However, he was also guilty of losing possession at times and became increasingly anonymous as the game wore on. If he is to prove himself an able deputy for Ozil, he will need to a show a lot more than he did yesterday. — BBC