Arsenal scored three times in the last 15 minutes to condemn struggling Stoke to a heavy defeat despite a fairly positive showing from the Potters in north London.
The Gunners, with more than one eye on Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final with CSKA Moscow, were not at the races for much of the afternoon but keep a grip on sixth place following a 3-0 win.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring with a controversial penalty as Bruno Martins Indi was adjudged to have fouled Mesut Ozil only for replays to show he won the ball.
The Gabon striker added a second soon after before substitute Alexandre Lacazette marked his return from knee surgery with another penalty.
Another half empty stadium.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 1, 2018
36pts off the League leaders.
I can barely be bothered to tweet.
And no, this is not an April Fool's joke.
Wenger's glorious revolution reaches its nadir.
Happy Easter! #afc pic.twitter.com/VgycTlBhqp
Few players came out of this game with much credit but, after a modest start to his Arsenal career following his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund, Aubameyang provided the decisive contributions. The Gabon international, who missed a penalty against Manchester City a month ago, once again took responsibility and coolly sent Jack Butland the wrong way from the spot before quickly adding a second.
Arsenal were struggling to break down their relegation-threatened hosts until they were awarded a rather fortuitous penalty, which was converted by Aubameyang. Referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot after Mesut Ozil went down in the box, although replays suggested Stoke defender Bruno Martins Indi touched the ball.
15 - Arsenal have won their last 15 home matches against Stoke in all competitions; a run that stretches back to August 1981 when Stoke won 1-0 at Highbury thanks to a goal by Lee Chapman. Routine.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 1, 2018
Arsenal took their run of successive home wins over Stoke to 16 matches in all competitions with this triumph, a streak going back 37 years.
Arsene Wenger decided to rest some of his first-team players with one eye on Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final with CSKA Moscow and a number of Gunners fans also took the opportunity for a break. There were numerous empty seats on Easter Sunday, with most of the noise coming from the sold-out away end. While the visiting fans created what little atmosphere there was, chants and jeers directed at Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey – who broke his leg at Stoke in February 2010 – were distasteful and unwarranted.
Arsenal: David Ospina 6 (out of 10), Hector Bellerin 6, Shkodran Mustafi 6, Calum Chambers 5, Nacho Monreal 6, Aaron Ramsey 6, Jack Wilshere 6, Mohamed Elneny 5, Mesut Ozil 6, Danny Welbeck 5, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 7. Substitutes: Alexandre Lacazette (on for Welbeck) 6, Henrikh Mkhitaryan (on for Wilshere, 76) 6, Granit Xhaka (on for Elneny, 76) 5.
Stoke: Jack Butland 6, Glen Johnson 5, Ryan Shawcross 6, Bruno Martins Indi 5, Erik Pieters 6, Moritz Bauer 5, Badou Ndiaye 5, Joe Allen 6, Ramadan Sobhi 5, Xherdan Shaqiri 6, Mame Biram Diouf 5. Substitutes: Saido Berahino (on for Diouf, 61) 5, Peter Crouch (on for Sobhi, 80) 5.
Arsenal v CSKA Moscow (Europa League quarter-final first leg, April 5)
Stoke v Tottenham (Premier League, April 7)