Arsene Wenger believes Theo Walcott can score enough goals to silence the criticism Arsenal are receiving for not buying a top-class striker during the summer.
Wenger failed to add to his strike options during the transfer window, but both Walcott and his replacement Olivier Giroud were on target at the Emirates Stadium as the Gunners moved second in the fledgling Premier League table.
“If Walcott plays and scores everybody says Walcott is good,” Wenger said. “But before the game everybody says ‘why did you not buy a striker?’
“If I bought a striker Walcott would not have played. It’s always a vicious circle.
“At some stage you’ve just to believe in your players and give them a chance.”
Walcott’s first Arsenal goal of the season, after his double for England at San Marino, came after 31 minutes but he might have had a hat-trick before then.
“I believe he can be a prolific goalscorer because you come out of the game and think how many chances he had,” Wenger said.
“The bigger the belief he will have to score, the more he will score. He gets in good situations.
“He scored a great goal, I must say. He needed technical quality to do it and calm in the finishing. It’s good that Giroud came on and scored as well.”
The Gunners poured forwards time and again but could not get the goals their dominant performance deserved.
Wenger, though, was never unduly concerned after a third successive clean sheet and a first home win following the opening day loss to West Ham and goalless draw with Liverpool.
He said: “If you want to be a bit critical, you could say there’s too big a difference between number of chances created and number of goals scored but that can come quickly once you win games at home.
“We had 30 shots on goal today and continuously we created chances from the first to the last minute.
“Players have the quality to score so at some stage that will come. We have stabilised our defensive record.”
Walcott may not keep his place in a big week for the Gunners, who begin their Champions League campaign at Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday night and travel to the reeling reigning Premier League champions Chelsea next Saturday.
“We play every three days for three weeks,” Wenger said.
“I will have to rotate the strikers without letting them drop their confidence.”
Stoke manager Mark Hughes rued the result which left his side bottom and still without a win this term.
“Today we weren’t good enough to go toe-to-toe with a very good Arsenal team,” he said.
“We weren’t bright enough in our defensive work. We allowed good players time and space to create and move.
“We just didn’t get to the source of the problem. We didn’t close people down.”
There were positives for Hughes in the performance of goalkeeper Jack Butland and the return as a substitute from a serious knee injury of Bojan Krkic.
“Jack Butland has shown what an outstanding young keeper he is,” Hughes said.
“As the season progresses we fully expect he won’t have as many opportunities to be man of the match. That’s our aim. At the moment he’s having too much to do.
“That’s a positive, probably the only other one was the reintroduction of Bojan. We’re delighted to see him back. On a day of negatives, those were the two highs for us.”