Arteta Should Start Against Stoke
This is one of those matches people tend to worry about beforehand as a potential banana-skin – especially right after an international break and with Arsenal needing to keep the wins coming so as not to fall further behind.
I’m not even remotely worried. Arsenal vs Stoke at home is usually a banker and Mark Hughes is still to manage an away win at Arsenal.
This could be another good weekend of results for Arsenal with Chelsea playing Everton away (with no Courtois, thanks for Cech by the way), City travelling to in-form Crystal Palace and Manchester United and Liverpool fighting it out. In contrast, Stoke at home looks like a relatively easy restart to the league campaign.
Stoke will be without Ryan Shawcross so I expect it to be a less hostile game. Aside from that horrific tackle on Ramsey 5 years ago he’s not really been the villain we make him out to be, if anything he sometimes seems to subdue his natural aggression against us which may account somewhat towards Stoke’s rather poor form at the Emirates. We won’t have our pantomime villain to jeer and boo but I don’t expect it to be a cordial match with friendly chant bantering – chantering?
The travelling Potters supporters still have Ramsey to jeer – which will only incense our crowd – and the resulting enmity will filter through to the players although as I said, I expect it to be less intense.
Many are calling for Giroud to be dropped for this game but this is the exact sort of game I think he is suited to and wouldn’t want to put Theo through the middle from the start in this match. I’m not worried about Giroud’s scoring form, he’s more than capable of putting them away and I expect to see him back on the score sheet today.
I would also start Arteta in this game. Some say he isn’t capable of starting games but I say that is poppycock – he was out of contract but we chose to keep him on, we wouldn’t have done that if we didn’t think he wasn’t capable as shown with Diaby. Stoke have plenty of injury problems and there is no reason why Arteta cannot play like he did when he came on against Crystal Palace. There is a worry that Coquelin can’t manage the whole season without back-up but Arteta is his back-up and there are certain games you can comfortably start him without concern and allow Coquelin to rest – that said, I don’t think he will start as Coquelin wasn’t on international duty.
My only dull concern is how Gabriel will handle Stoke’s physical game. Wenger is totally right when he says they are a much more technical team under Hughes and with increased technical ability often comes a lessening of aggression – aggression that cemented Stoke’s place as a Premier League team.
Gabriel looks to be a real talent in the mould of your typical English centre-half but with the technical grace of a Brazilian. However, he does seem a little impulsive and quick to rile from what I have seen. He isn’t afraid to ‘put it up them’ (behave) and the worry is Stoke will use this to their advantage should he start which isn’t guaranteed now Mertesacker is close to fitness.
Other than that I am looking forward to a return to scoring form for Arsenal and a solid win.
Arsenal from; Cech, Ospina, Bellerin, Debuchy, Gibbs, Monreal, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Chambers, Reine-Adelaide, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Flamini, Coquelin, Özil, Ramsey, Cazorla, Walcott, Giroud.
Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Gabriel, Monreal, Coquelin, Özil, Alexis, Cazorla, Ramsey, Giroud
I expect to see substitute appearances from Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“Sometimes you have to trust your players and play them. Then they get there. People always want the absolute certainty that they will be absolutely successful. It is not like that” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Arsenal 3-0 Stoke (11.01.2015)
- Stoke 3-2 Arsenal (06.12.2014)
- Stoke 1-0 Arsenal (01.03.2014)
Arsenal Last 5
Stoke Last 5
Stoke are without a win in their first four games in the Premier League this season and history suggests they won’t get one here either. Stoke haven’t won at Arsenal in 34 years and Hughes has never managed an away win over Arsenal with three different clubs.
Charlie Adam and Ibrahim Afellay have picked up bans, Peter Odemwingie is out with an injury and Glen Johnson, Mame Diouf and Marko Arnautovic face late fitness tests so Stoke may find it hard to cause Arsenal any serious problems. However, new signing Shaqiri and Bojan can cause any team headaches on their day so Arsenal cannot afford to be complacent.
- Stoke have lost on each of their last 13 league and cup trips to Arsenal
- The Gunners have failed to score in five of their last six home league games
- If Arsenal draw a blank against Stoke it will be the first time in their history they have failed to score in their opening three top-flight home games
- Arsenal are averaging a league-high 65% ball possession this season
- Arsenal have created the highest total of chances but their shot conversion ratio is a mere 5.6%
- Stoke have collected just four points in their last seven Premier League away games (D4, L3)
2-0 to Arsenal.
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