Stoke City vs Arsenal Preview
This Sunday we face the dreaded task of going to the Britannia Stadium, this, as recent times have shown is one of the hardest and most challenging fixtures for any team in the Premier League.
Last season we managed to come away with a draw, an early goal from Crouch and a tap in by Van Persie. This was a good result at the time, but this time round I think we need to get 3 points, we need to score our first goal of the season and can we find goals from Podolski or Giroud? That is the question on everyone’s mind, I think with the creativity of Cazorla, Theo, Arteta and Gervinho they will find goals in no time, however they may need a bit more time playing together to gel with the rest of the team.
Arsenal will have star defender Laurent Koscielny(Calf) missing and we don’t expect him to be rushed back into the starting XI too soon. Mertersacker may get the shout because of his physical presence, as we all know Stoke like to play the long ball, cross it in and lauch it in from set plays and throw-in’s. Per would have a better chance of challenging Peter Crouch for headers being 6’6.
Also Oliver Giroud who came on from the bench last week and impressed despite missing a big opportunity might get the shout up front as he would be a big help coming back and defender set pieces due to his height and strength. This would be his first start in the Premier League if he does although I think Mr.Wenger might stick with Podolski because of his experience, pace and ability to find the net.
We will have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain(Ankle) back from injury who, as in pre-season, is likely to feature in a central midfield role either from the start or from the bench. It will be exciting for fans to see him Cazorla and Arteta in midfield at some stage but let’s not forget Jack Wilshere is still out long term as well as Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky.
Santi Cazorla impressed fans and players on Saturday with his eye for goal and fantastic vision to spot a pass and then find his man more than 9 times out of 10. He is likely to start with Arteta and Diaby along side him in a midfield trio. I would prefer Coquelin to fill in at right back but Jenkinson will most probably start as he is the natural replacement. Also left back Andre Santos may not be in the side after a police chase during the week. Gervinho had a great game against Sunderland off the back of a good pre-season and is expected to start on the left. We have strength in depth with Ramsey, Arshavin, Koscielny/Mertersacker, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Giroud/Podolski all ready to come on from the bench.
Stoke have only one injury concern which is former Arsenal man Jermain Pennant who missed the Reading game with a thigh strain but is almost certainly going to be fit to take on his former employees. Also the Potters could have a new signing making his debut. Tom Huddlestone is having a medical from our North London rival Tottenham Hotspur and is expected to sign on a season-long loan.
We know this will be a tough game and here is what I think the probable starting line-up’s will look like.
Wilkinson Huth Shawcross(C) Wilson
Kightly Whitehead Whelan Etherington
Jenkinson Koscielny Vermaelen(C) Gibbs
Walcott Cazorla Gervinho
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