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Arsenal Vs Stoke PL Preview

After an intolerable international break – what already seems like the 89th this season – we can finally look forward to the Premier League returning, as Arsenal take on Stoke City at The Emirates.

Before the international hiatus, we had recovered a little from a hellish period that saw us slump out of contention for any sort of respectable league placing, but our handsome wins over AC Milan and a professional victory over Watford has seen at least an improvement.

We’ve got plenty of work to do though.

The Europa League is only at the Quarter-Final stage and we’re still eight points behind fifth place, so every game is pretty much win or bust at this stage. Good thing we’re playing Stoke City then, right?

Before we panic and hark back to the many nightmares we’ve had against the Potters, there is a contrast to this match-up that has a derby feel of sorts. When we travel to Stoke, this is when the nightmares begin and we have a truly sketchy record against them at their home ground.

When it comes to welcoming them at our ground though? They’ve never won at our place in the Premier League era. In fact, you have to go back to 1981 to find a Stoke win at our ground.

Can we make it continue though? We need to, and we have the chance to nudge Paul Lambert’s side towards the exit door a little more.

In terms of our team, Wenger revealed that Alexandre Lacazette should be fit for consideration for the game, but the length of his layoff should mean a probable substitute appearance for the French striker. Lacazette will be keen for minutes too, with the World Cup looming.

Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey were doubts too, but both have been passed for fitness according to our manager. Chambers may slot in to preserve Koscielny for the CSKA game on Thursday. Jack Wilshere may miss out though, after injuring himself whilst on England duty, although he’s in full training.

In attack, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan should be ably assisting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with one spot on the right up for grabs. That will be either Danny Welbeck’s or Alex Iwobi’s.

We do at least have Petr Cech’s 200th clean sheet out of the way, after waiting nearly four months. We will have to be up for a fight as Stoke will bombard on set plays and have the height to cause us problems.

The reverse fixture was another nightmare – a 1-0 win for Stoke where Jese scored his one and only goal in his loan spell thus far – and despite their lowly league placing, they will again pose a threat.

We need to rack up the wins and this game is a great opportunity to not only keep up our slim chances of breaking the top four monopoly, but also giving our match against CSKA Moscow the appropriate foundation.

A loss in this game would quickly see a return of the cloying negativity that has been the hallmark of this season. The only answer is winning, and we really should be getting maximum points in this game. Our home form alone is the biggest factor.

So, let’s see our boys put in a decent performance. #UTA

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Chambers, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 to The Arsenal

Stoke Vs Arsenal Preview

The Premiership came back with a bang last week, and Arsenal’s win over Leicester showed the good and bad of the League.

A hatful of goals and some diabolical defending – mostly from our own motley crew – meant we were left biting our nails for the whole match, with late goals sealing the points.

While we can castigate our side over our naivety regarding Leicester’s ‘highly original’ gameplan, we must remember a couple of things.

Firstly, the defence that lined up was a patchwork quilt of a backline, with our three first choice central defenders out through a combination of injury and suspension.

Secondly, the defending may be partially blamed on Arsene Wenger, but he can also take credit for the inspired substitutions which grabbed us the points. Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud snaffled us the points from a losing position, but will they be part of the team?

If Giroud gets a spot, that would mean either Alexandre Lacazette being benched or we change formation. Wenger isn’t a big fan of changing a winning team, and rightfully so. Lacazette also scored last week, and the new French striker should get the chance to pit himself against the quintessential English defence in Stoke.

Aaron Ramsey though, should have a better chance of coming back into the side, at the expense of Mohamed Elneny. It wasn’t a case of the Egyptian having a bad game, but more that Ramsey and Xhaka look like the first choice pairing and Wenger will want to play them together as much as possible to forge a stronger bond between the pair.

Alexis Sanchez’s story looks like it will never end, with his Instagram antics being extrapolated in a vain bid to find out where his future lies. His immediate future is not in the side though, as his abdominal strain will keep him out again. Wenger stated in his Presser though, that he should be OK for next week against Liverpool at Anfield.

Mesut Ozil was not effective against Leicester, and looked way off the pace. Every game will give him a step nearer to where he needs to be, so expect the German to play. In regards to our defence, Per Mertesacker and Shkodran Mustafi should be fit to play against Stoke, so a firmer rearguard is on the horizon, although Koscielny is still suspended.

Stoke have some players to hurt us, with Xherdan Shaqiri and Bojan able to play at the highest level, but consistency evades them. 

However, on their day they are a handful and we must be watchful. It is their defence though, that looks strongest.

With Kurt Zouma on loan from Chelsea and Ryan Shawcross an excellent aerial defender, the Potters are equipped to not only stave off set-pieces, but also pose a threat from their own. 

They also have in their ranks Jese on loan from PSG, so their attack may be hard to predict. Will Peter Crouch bombard us? Or will the Spanish new boy be given a shot?

We have a record at the Britannia that must be improved. Two wins from ten games shows a weakness when visiting the Potteries, and Mark Hughes will be keen to extend this. A win for the Gunners though, could show that this season is where our backbone has become evident and where it needs to be to be considered a title contender.

We may all be consumed with ins and outs at The Emirates, but let us not lose sight of the real reason we obsess over signings – and that is to win games. We have a game, an important one. Let us forget about the infernal window and support the team.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Welbeck, Ozil, Lacazette.

Predicted Scoreline – Stoke 0-2 Arsenal

Stoke Vs Arsenal Preview

The flurry of fixtures continues, and just three days after we fought past a stubborn Southampton side, we are again on our travels as we go to the Bet365 Stadium to take on Stoke City.

The spirit shown in getting maximum points from the Saints was pleasing to see, but this game will need this level and more if we are to get the win we need to keep our top4 hopes alive. This venue is not a happy hunting ground for Arsenal – we have not won there since 2010 and the last six games have been winless at the home of the Potters. 

This is an abysmal record, and Arsene Wenger must look to end this if he is to continue to exert pressure on Manchester City and Liverpool. It isn’t just Stoke that have got a great record against the Gunners, as Mark Hughes is unbeaten in the last eight home league games.

It seems that this game is destined for dropped points, but let’s not abandon hope yet. Laurent Koscielny will again be tested before the game for fitness, but a few days rest will have done him the world of good. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain went off injured in our win against Southampton, but he should come back into the team. This is a huge boost as The Ox has been quite excellent in his new position. 

Alexis was back to his best midweek with a goal and a hand in the second, and the Chilean will have a hard game trying to get anything out of Stoke’s defence. He will have to be at his best. Mesut Ozil was another who seemed to be finding some form too, and both must deliver yet again. 

Stoke are a different team compared to the Tony Pulis-inspired eleven which bullied us off pitches in the past, but they are still more than formidable at home. Mark Hughes may go for the lesser-spotted Saido Berahino in attack, but he will be looking for a win which could seal a top8 finish. 

His team are not in the best form though, with only one win in their last nine matches. This just increases the odds of ‘one of those games’ for Gooners, where the opposition keeper summons the spirit of Lev Yashin and repels at least 39 shots, and the only goal is past our own keeper via a horrendous foul. We are all familiar with these games, but if it does occur, we need to rol our sleeves up, as there can be no dropped points.

A player we must watch out for is Peter Crouch. The lanky striker is one who has haunted us prolifically over the years, and his height will mean our defence will be stretched aerially. Mustafi, Holding, Koscielny and whomever makes up our proposed back 3 must track his movements in the box and Ramsey and Xhaka must cut out the supply. 

Even after this game, we then have another midweek game against a Sunderland side free from pressure, and then ending our season with a game against Everton. All must be won. First though, let’s take the points from Stoke for once.

Predicted lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gibbs, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck

Predicted Score – 2-1 Arsenal

Arsenal 3-1 Stoke: 5 Key Points From The Match

Forget about our recent thumpings of West Ham and Basel; if Arsenal fans are looking for real reasons for optimism – THIS win showed that the Gunners are up for the fight.

A goal down and an injury to one of our starting defenders put us in an awkward position, but we pushed on to grab victory. 

Goals from Theo Walcott, Mesut Özil and Alex Iwobi saw Arsenal come back from a goal behind to emphatically grab all 3 points – and go top of the Premier League in the process.

The match began well, with the home side bossing possession, and Stoke looking to utilise Arnautovic and Shaqiri on the break. The Gunners were edging the game and going through the gears, before Shkodran Mustafi went down with a suspected hamstring injury.

Only just declared fit, Hector Bellerin came on and replaced Gabriel on the right of defence, who took the spot vacated by Mustafi. Three minutes later, Stoke were ahead.

Against the run of play, Stoke were gifted a penalty, as Joe Allen ghosted into the box ahead of Xhaka, who was set to clear. Allen was brought down, and Charlie Adam converted from the spot.

Arsenal were behind, and had only been behind for 73 minutes this season in total. This was proving to be a crunch match, a decisive moment. 

Bellerin made an instant difference, and it was his first time ball into the box which saw a vibrant Theo finish well and equalise. It was Walcott’s 100th goal for Arsenal, and his 50th at The Emirates.

The second half saw the Gunners bring extra gunpowder. The Ox and Theo in particular, were terrorising Stoke’s backline, and they had the Potters stricken in their own last third. 

It took only three minutes for Wenger’s side to convert their dominance into the lead, and it was a thing of beauty.

The Ox had the ball in the centre of Stoke’s half and picked out Özil who had made a run into the box. He then proceeded to lob the ball over Lee Grant, the away keeper, with his head and the ball sailed over the timewasting keeper and into his goal.

It wasn’t over though. Arsenal were playing well and toying with Stoke, who did have a few chances but Cech was equal to them.

Alex Iwobi tied up the points, as referee played advantage with Sanchez being fouled. Iwobi had continued his run and a low finish across Grant made it 3-1.

The game had ample chances and lots of incident, so here are the 5 key points from the 90 minutes;

Bellerin Changed the game

Before the young Spaniard was introduced, Arsenal were having the better of the game. Upon his arrival, he found his team a goal down instantly, but Bellerin showed no signs of rust after his layoff. His constant availability and running was a nightmare to track and it was his ball that brought about our equaliser. Gabriel has been solid, but my, how we’ve missed Bellerin’s fizz.

Özil operates on a different stratosphere

The special players of this world are capable of magic, and Özil’s header was certainly that. Not many players would have opted for his lobbed heads finish, as it was technically difficult, but Mesut made it look like child’s play. Time seemed to stand still, but it certainly wasn’t and he had milliseconds to first decide, and then implement, his plan. Wonderful.

A tip of the hat to the referee.

The match officials get a crapload of stick, so when they make a correct decision that the majority of their colleagues would fail on, it is important to commend them. Lee Mason saw the obvious foul on Alexis as he was looking to get into the box, but had enough savvy to see Iwobi could pick up the pieces of the attack. Fair play.

Stoke may be prettier, but they’re still the kings of Gamesmanship

They may not play constant 80yrd passes, but the fact that Stoke were persistently wasting time – in the first half – tells you all you need to know about their game plan. Arsenal heads kept cool though, which is another plus.

Top of the league – for 24 hours at least

We have been in promising positions before, but regardless, we sit top of the Premier League until Chelsea play later. We have also banged in more goals than any side, and our current league run is the best we’ve enjoyed for six years. If we can’t enjoy being a Gooner now, then when can we?

There was a lot more to write about as well.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is showing consistency and lowering his rate of error, and he was excellent in this game. Coquelin kept it simple, and Xhaka was the bridge between defence and attack. We coped ever so well with whatever Stoke threw at us and we looked like we could break them open at will.
Oh yes, I also called the correct score line in my match preview. You may call me your oracle now. 

Next up is a trip to Goodison Park on Tuesday. On this form, we will be a real test for anyone. 


Arsenal Vs Stoke – Team News, Preview and Stats

Finishing top of their group, scoring nine goals in their last two games and in the knowledge that a win by two clear goals in this match will see the Gunners top of the table – for 24hrs at least – should ensure that Arsene Wenger’s team go into this match against Stoke surfing on a tidal wave of confidence.

Arsenal currently lie in second place, and after successfully negotiating our annual November jitters, the fixtures show no sign of slowing. Just three days later Arsenal travel to Goodison Park, and then four days pass before we take on Pep Guardiola’s City team at The Etihad.

Phew. That is one tough schedule, but if the last few games have taught us anything, it is that we have the adequate depth to succeed in even the most dire of circumstances. The team was amply rotated for the 4-1 win over Basel, and there is the added bonus of a prospective return for Hector Bellerin.

The Spanish whizzkid has seemingly returned early from his ankle injury and is in the reckoning to return for the visit of Stoke, but with Everton and City on the near horizon, Gabriel and Carl Jenkinson should still be ahead of Bellerin for first choice today.

In terms of our other walking wounded, Per Mertesacker is progressing nicely but has set his sights on a return next year, and Danny Welbeck and Santi Cazorla continue their rehabilitation. Santi put up a picture of himself recovering from his recent ankle op on a hospital bed, so he will be missing from the team through the festive congestion.

This game may appear the easier of the next three, but Stoke will not roll over. They have lost just once in their last nine, and Xherdan Shaqiri continues to materialise openings and goals. They will be especially keen to end an awful run at the home of Arsenal – where they haven’t won since 1981.

Stoke will be missing a few faces, and club captain Ryan Shawcross is chief among them. Geoff Cameron is also missing, but they will have the services of Marko Arnautovic and Bruno Martins-Indi, who were carrying knocks from their previous match – a 2-0 win over Burnley.

Stoke are a different prospect at The Brittania, where they hold sway over Arsenal, but the Gunners have won their last 14 home games over the Potters. The Gunners are in great form in the Premiership, and are still proudly holding on to the fact that they have lost just once, which was a desperately unlucky opening day loss to Liverpool.

The Gunners look to have more substance this season, which comes from fresher legs and new personnel and competition. One of the players who offers such substance is Francis Coquelin, who returns from suspension for this game. Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey combined well against Basel and while Santi is away they look to be the premium duo, but with three games in eight days, Coquelin and Elneny can look forward to some action.

Shkodran Mustafi was rested for the Champions League win over Basel and should come straight back into the team, and Keiran Gibbs did himself no harm with his excellent performance in midweek. He and Nacho Monreal look to be on an even keel, will they share games as the fatigue bites?

Lucas Perez is another who enhanced his cry for minutes with a treble against the Swiss side, and while he may be back on the bench for todays game, the Spaniard has shown he can be called upon to make a difference. 

All the signs are good, and Arsenal are in a great place. With so many games coming up, it is easy to slip and snowball under the sudden negativity, but if we continue as we have done, we look strong. 

First up, Stoke. 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Elneny, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez.

Predicted Scoreline – 3-1 Arsenal

Basel Vs Arsenal – Champions League Preview

Upon first inspection, this game could be viewed as something of a dead rubber.

Arsenal travel to Switzerland safe in the knowledge that they have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League. Basel entertain the Gunners having notched only two points from the group. Not only that, but even if Arsene Wenger’s side leave St Jakob Park with all three points it will matter little if PSG match their result against Ludogorets.

There is still a small chance that the Gunners could finish top of their group though, and while that remains, Wenger could field what will be a very strong side.

Common sense should dictate otherwise, especially as on Saturday we take on a resurgent Stoke side – and three days later we travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton. With these matches posing far more of a threat to our hopes of success, the squad will come into play fully over the next week.

This fixture flurry would have been a larger cause for concern in years gone by, but the pool of players we can choose from is stronger than before and this will be reflected in the teamsheets for the aforementioned games. 

Coming fresh from the 5-1 thumping of West Ham should fill the team full of confidence, and compensate for the disruption that is inevitably caused by rotating the playing staff.

Hat-trick hero Alexis Sanchez could well be rested for this game, and this could give a great opportunity to Lucas Perez who has recently returned from injury. The other choice would be the fit-again Olivier Giroud who has ample experience in the competition. 

What is perhaps most telling is Arsene Wenger’s own comments from the pre-match press conference. He spoke of his sides preperation and about finishing second or first in the group. He said ” We’ll see. PSG are favourites to beat Ludogorets at home and win the group, but we can assess that scoreline at half-time and see where we go.” 

The part regarding assessing the scoreline at half-time could be construed that he plans to name his strongest players for the game, and if PSG have wrapped up their game then he will make the necessary changes. Or maybe he is holding his cards close to his chest?

Regardless, players such as Mohamed Elneny, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi can expect some form of involvement, such is the wealth of talent we possess within our ranks. Elneny and Granit Xhaka in particular will be hoping to make the team to face off against their former club. Xhaka faced off against his former teammates and his brother Taulant in the corresponding fixture which the Gunners won 2-0 at The Emirates and he will surely be hoping for a repeat result. Theo Walcott scored a first half brace to win that game, but will he be rested with the Stoke game in the corner of Arsene’s eye? Can we afford to bench too many of our established stars?

Basel will be a real test though. They have won their last three home games against English sides, and the Gunners have not finished a group campaign unbeaten since 2005/06. Objectively though, Arsenal have never finished on the losing side against Swiss opposition. One of these records have to budge – especially when you consider that the Gunners have not had a 0-0 draw in the Champions League groups since 2007. 

So Arsene has a dilemma, but one that should be easy enough to solve. The squad strength should allow him to hedge his bets even a little for this game, while simultaneously being able to preserve his side for the game against the Potters in the weekend. 

A loss will be harmful, but an injury to key personnel would be potentially fatal to our hopes of any silverware. Sensible rotation is key.

Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mustafi, Gibbs, Elneny, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Iwobi, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 Arsenal

Stoke City 0-0 Arsenal – Cech Saves The Day as Arsenal Prove Mettle. Match Review.

Stoke maintained their excellent record at the Brittania versus Arsenal with this stalemate – the Gunners have now failed to win at Stoke since 2010. Debate raged on all platforms if this should be seen as two points dropped or one gained, but a trip to Anfield and the Brittania within four days and managing to escape without loss can be regarded as a satisfactory job.

Continue reading Stoke City 0-0 Arsenal – Cech Saves The Day as Arsenal Prove Mettle. Match Review.

Stoke City Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

The conveyor belt of fixtures continues today, with Arsenal travelling to the Brittania Stadium to take on Stoke City – a team that the Gunners have failed to beat at Stoke for five games.

Arsenal are in a disappointing run of form away from home, with only one win in the last five, but their last away trip – the exciting 3-3 draw at Anfield midweek – showed the character that Arsene Wenger’s men possess. Restoring parity twice in quick succession and then taking the lead shows the belief that the Gunners squad must have and a win at Stoke would only reinforce the suspicion that Arsenal are the team to beat this campaign.


Continue reading Stoke City Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Arsenal Vs Stoke – A Preview

Finally, after what seems like an extraordinary amount of time passing – Arsenal return to action this weekend.

We have had the tumultuous transfer window, and been left the scraps of international football to gnaw on whilst we waited for the Premiership to once more kick into gear. It was only four games into the season before the infernal international break gave us a hiatus from domestic football that wasn’t entirely welcome, but from here on in, the games come thick and fast.

Continue reading Arsenal Vs Stoke – A Preview