Blog by: GB Vish
Date and Time: 21 September, 2013, 1800 IST, 1330 GMT
Location: Emirates Stadium, Finsbury Park, London, England, United Kingdom
Officials: Mike Dean (Referee), J. Colin, G. Beswick (Assistants), Lee Mason (Fourth Assistant)
After the inaugural games of the Champions and Europa Leagues in midweek, it’s back to domestic action this weekend. Arsenal host Stoke City in this Saturday’s early kick off.
Arsene Wenger’s Gunners have put together a six-match winning run in all competitions since defeat to Aston Villa on opening day and the latest to test their streak will be Mark Hughes’ Stoke City.
Last five fixtures: WWWWW
18/09/2013: Marseille 1-2 Arsenal (A), UEFA Champions League
14/09/2013: Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal (A), Barclays Premier League
01/09/2013: Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur (H), Barclays Premier League
27/08/2013: Arsenal 2-0 Fenerbahce (H), UEFA Champions League
24/08/2013: Fulham 1-3 Arsenal, Barclays Premier League
Marseille were the latest team to add to Arsenal’s nascent win streak, despite the Gunners not playing well and Arsene Wenger will be looking forward to his team addressing those problems when Stoke come visiting tomorrow.
A team whose overtly physical style of football caused the hosts a myriad number of problems in the past under previous boss Tony Pulis, but it was Arsenal who won the last time the Potters came to the Emirates, with Lukas Podolski’s goal separating the two teams in a game in which the hosts needed resilience to break down Stoke.
Hughes’ side, however, are a different outfit and he will enter this game with a different mindset than his predecessor did.
Form: Stoke City
Last five fixtures: DWWWL
14/09/2013: Stoke City 0-0 Manchester City (H), Barclays Premier League
31/08/2013: West Ham United 0-1 Stoke City (A), Barclays Premier League
28/08/2013: Stoke City 3-1 Walsall (H), Capital One Cup
24/08/2013: Stoke City 2-1 Crystal Palace (H), Barclays Premier League
17/08/2013: Liverpool 1-0 Stoke City, Barclays Premier League
With the exception of an opening day defeat to Liverpool, Stoke are unbeaten in the rest of their five remaining games, a cause for optimism for new manager Mark Hughes, who will look to build on a side that looked to stagnate under the later years of fellow Welshman Pulis.
That he has already faced two Premier League heavyweights and successfully negotiated a potentially tricky cup tie will give his team more belief as they go to a stadium where they haven’t won on their last five visits.
All time statistics lie heavily in favour of Arsene Wenger’s team, with Arsenal having won 42 of their previous meetings with Stoke, who have 22.
Team News : Arsenal
Wenger has several injured to contend with but no new additions were made on the treatment table during their win against Marseille.
Mikel Arteta returned to training today and Thomas Vermaelen is closing in on a return date to the Arsenal starting XI, but Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) and Yaya Sanogo (back) are both doubtful.
Abou Diaby (ACL), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Lukas Podolski (hamstring) and Santi Cazorla (ankle) are all unavailable.
Squad (from): Wojciech Szczesny (GK), Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen (captain), Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud, Emiliano Viviano (GK), Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Flamini, Lukasz Fabianski (GK), Yaya Sanogo, Nicklas Bendtner, Carl Jenkinson, Emmanuel Frimpong, Kieran Gibbs, Ju Young Park, Ryo Miyaichi
Probable Starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Wilshere, Giroud
Team News: Stoke City
With the exception of centre back Marc Muniesa, who is nearly fit, Hughes has a full squad to choose from and Marko Arnautovic could well start this game after coming off the bench against Manchester City.
Squad (from): Asmir Begovic (GK), Jack Butland (GK), Thomas Sorensen (GK), Geoff Cameron, Robert Huth, Marc Muniesa, Eric Pieters, Ryan Shawcross (captain), Andy Wilkinson, Marc Wilson, Charlie Adam, Oussama Assaidi, Maurice Edu, Matt Etherington, Stephen Ireland, Jamie Ness, Stephen N’Zonzi, Wilson Palacios, Jermaine Pennant, Brek Shea, Glenn Whelan, Marko Arnautovic, Peter Crouch, Kenwyne Jones, Jonathan Walters
Probable Starting XI: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross (captain), Muniesa, Pieters, Adam, Ireland, N’Zonzi, Pennant, Assaidi, Jones
Stoke have always caused Arsenal problems in the past and if Arsene Wenger’s team do not show up and exercise caution, they could see Mark Hughes take three points off them at the Emirates. Should they, however, continue to put in the same efforts they have been post-Villa, they should win this game easily.
Arsenal 3-0 Stoke