RVP brace bails out Gunners
Robin van Persie climbed off the bench to rescue Arsenal with two goals to sink Stoke 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium.
With the Gunners labouring against their battle-hardened visitors, Van Persie was let loose with 25 minutes remaining.
And within a quarter of an hour he had scored twice to bail out his shot-shy team-mates and take his goal tally to a remarkable 29 in his last 34 appearances for the club.
In Van Persie's absence, Marouane Chamakh got a chance to impress, and he should have given Arsenal the lead in the 10th minute with a free header from Mikel Arteta's corner.
The opener arrived in the 27th minute, with Aaron Ramsey the architect.
The Wales international, who had his leg broken by Stoke's Ryan Shawcross 18 months ago, collected a half-clearance from the Potters defender and chipped it back into the area. Gervinho's chest control was perfect, creating the angle for him to beat the diving Asmir Begovic.
But Stoke grabbed a shock leveller seven minutes later from a disputed free-kick after Laurent Koscielny was adjudged to have fouled Crouch.
As Wenger protested to fourth official Jon Moss, Glenn Whelan lofted the ball into the area, Shawcross' cross found its way to Jon Walters at the far post and his header back across goal was nodded in by Peter Crouch.
Van Persie finally made his entrance, replacing Chamakh. And it took only eight minutes for the new arrival to get Arsenal back on track. Gervinho beat Walters to reach the byline and pulled the ball back for new strike partner Van Persie, who squeezed the ball between Begovic and his near post.
And Van Persie had the final say with six minutes to go, Gervinho again the provider with a low cross which the in-form Holland star fired past Begovic to kill Stoke off.