Premier League preview: Arsenal v Stoke City
2009-12-05 - Added by
Arsenal will be seeking to put a run of two consecutive defeats behind them and celebrate coach Arsene Wenger’s 500th game in charge with a win.
The Gunners have had a turbulent seven days culminating in 3-0 rout by Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup on Wednesday night. This followed a 3-0 mauling at the hands of Chelsea on Sunday night.
Moreover, coach Arsene Wenger’s refusal to shake City boss Mark Hughes’ hand after the defeat at Eastlands has seen him roundly criticised publicly.
In his 500th game in charge the Frenchman will like nothing more than a victory to put the events of the past week behind him and close the gap on table-toppers Chelsea who travel to the City of Manchester Stadium at tea-time.
Ninth place Stoke won't be at The Emirates to make up the numbers however, and Potters coach Tony Pulis will be hammering home to his players the fact that incredibly, Arsenal have won just twice against teams in the top half of the table this term.
A 4-1 defeat in the same fixture last season means that Stoke will have to be at their best to nick a point or even all three this afternoon.
Arsenal received good news on Friday that striker Robin Van Persie’s ankle surgery went well but the Dutchman is still sidelined for up to five months. Likewise full-back Kieran Gibbs is still out with a metatarsal injury.
Winger Theo Walcott is out with a hamstring injury, Abou Diaby is nursing a calf strain whilst defensive midfielder Alex Song will serve a one match ban.
Stoke City have no such injury worries and but for midfielder Dean Whitehead who is suspended, as well as Amdy Faye who is a long-term absentee, manager Tony Pulis has a full squad to choose from.
Probable Line-Ups; Star Man:
Arsenal (4-3-3): Almunia, Sagna, Vermaelen, Gallas, Traore, Nasri, Fabregas, Denilson, Arshavin, Rosicky, Eduardo.
Stoke (4-4-2): Sorensen, Wilkinson, Collins, Ab. Faye, Huth, Lawrence, Whelan, Diao, Etherington, Fuller, Beattie.
ExtraFootie's Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City. The Gunners will want to get back to winning ways and quickly, meaning that Stoke City could well be on the receiving end of an Arsenal backlash.