Alexis Sanchez stars as Arsenal take apart Stoke to close on top four

Olivier Giroud grabbed a brace as Arsenal bolstered their bid to gatecrash the top four with a convincing 4-1 victory at Stoke City.

The Frenchman started and finished the scoring to take his tally to 16 for the season as the Gunners continued their rich-vein of form with a sixth win in seven outings in all competitions.

Mesut Ozil and the mercurial Alexis Sanchez were also on target as the visitors eventually made their superiority count to move a point behind fourth-placed Liverpool with two matches to play.

Substitute Peter Crouch had threatened to drag the Potters back into it at 2-0 when he appeared to handle the ball into the net, but a controversial moment didn’t have an impact on the outcome as Arsenal finally won at Stoke for the first time since 2010.

Liverpool still have the initiative in the race for the Champions league places, but know that any slip against West Ham on Sunday could let the Gunners in when they host already-relegated Sunderland on Tuesday evening.