Ramsey and Walcott could be key to another crushing win
Match Preview: Arsenal vs Stoke – Premier League – 10.12.2016
Christmas is my favourite time of year for many reasons but right at the top of the tree is festive football. We’re about to hit a run of three games in eight days before the week long break ahead of our Boxing Day fixture at home to West Brom.
The Gunners have a small chance to propel themselves to the top of the league ahead of Chelsea over the next few games. On paper Arsenal certainly have the harder schedule with games against Stoke and Manchester City sandwiching an away trip to Goodison Park whilst Chelsea face off against West Brom, Sunderland and Crystal Palace. It would seem unlikely that Arsenal would overtake Chelsea with such fixtures but many of us believed that topping our Champions League group was impossible. We should not underestimate the potential for upsets in this league.
So, to start our attempt to seize first place by Christmas Arsenal welcome Stoke City to the Emirates today and should fancy themselves for a win. The introduction of Xhaka seems to have lessened the problem we’ve had in getting the ball to Brother Mesut with Santi out of action. The solution could not have come at a better time with Cazorla set to miss the next 2-3 months after surgery.
Against Bournemouth, West Ham and Basel, Arsenal looked imperious. We’ve started to move the ball through the midfield with purpose and our forwards have been lapping it up.
I’d like to see Wenger partner Xhaka with Ramsey in this game. I think our midfield looks more creative and dynamic with those two and Ramsey is always extra, forgive me, stoked to play the Potters.
Bellerin faces a late fitness test but I’d be surprised if he started. Given his midweek heroics I think Lucas has earned another game but I’d also like to see Walcott starting again and would back him to score his 100th career club goal. If we get the right balance on the wings and in the middle this should be a comfortable game for the Gunners.
Cech; Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Özil, Lucas, Walcott; Alexis
I expect to see substitute appearances from Ox, Elneny and Iwobi.
“We are playing well but we have plenty of room for improvement. I think we want to develop as a team and that’s what we have done since the start of the season” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Stoke 0-0 Arsenal (17.01.2016)
- Arsenal 3-0 Stoke (11.01.2015)
- Stoke 3-2 Arsenal (06.12.2014)
Mark Hughes has worked hard to transform Stoke into a more creative team. Perhaps he deserves some credit for building a team around the likes of Bojan, Shaqiri, Arnautovic, Bony and Joe Allen but that is not to suggest Stoke have lost the aggressive defensive abilities they became famed for under Tony Pulis. They had a slow start to the season with just one win in the first 9 names, but have since battled back to get a draw at Old Trafford and string some wins together to be in a more comfortable league position. The Potters don’t have the best record at our home but they should not be taken lightly.
- The two clubs first clashed in a 1904 Division 1 match, a 2-1 win to Woolwich Arsenal.
- Arsenal have a 100% record against Stoke in eight matches at the Emirates. The aggregate scoreline in these games is 19-3 to Arsenal.
- The last time Stoke won away over Arsenal was in 1981
- Arsenal have won their last 14 home matches against Stoke in all competitions, including eight Premier League games.
- The Potters have conceded 19 goals and scored just three in their eight league matches at the Emirates Stadium.
- Stoke’s last win at Arsenal was by 1-0 at Highbury in the top flight in August 1981, with Lee Chapman scoring the only goal.
- Arsenal could go 14 matches without defeat in the Premier League for the first time since a 16-match streak between December 2010 and April 2011.
- Stoke have conceded just five goals in nine games since goalkeeper Lee Grant came into the team.
- Arsenal’s next draw will be their 500th in the top flight.
- Stoke have lost only one of their last nine Premier League matches (W5, D3).
- Alexis Sanchez has had a hand in 25 goals in his last 25 league games for Arsenal (18 goals and seven assists).
- The Potters have kept four clean sheets in their last seven Premier League fixtures, including their last two matches.
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored six league and cup goals this season – his best return since joining the Gunners.
- Stoke’s last 54 Premier League goals (excluding own goals) have been scored by non-English players since Peter Crouch netted for the Potters on 24 May 2015.
- Theo Walcott is one shy of 100 career club goals (including five for Southampton).
Courtesy of Opta & BBC Sport.
3-0. Theo and Alexis to score for Arsenal.
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