Arsenal - Stoke City Preview: Gunners look to re-ignite top four push
January was a bad month for Arsene Wenger's side, with only two wins in eight games in all competitions, but the Potters are without a Premier League victory since Boxing Day
By Tom McKeown
Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal
Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski
Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Cameron
Walters, Whelan, N'Zonzi, Adam, Etherington
Arsenal new boy Nacho Monreal is set to go straight into the starting line-up for the clash against Stoke, with Kieran Gibbs (thigh) ruled out. The 26-year-old is likely to be the Gunners’ only change on Saturday, with Mikel Arteta set to return to the bench after recovering from a calf injury.
Francis Coquelin (hamstring) could return to the squad, but Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) is still ruled out for Arsene Wenger’s side.
Stoke captured the signing of Brek Shea on deadline day, but the 22-year-old must wait on a visa application after overcoming the work permit hurdle that threatened to scupper his move from FC Dallas.
The Potters also bought Jack Butland from Birmingham City, but Asmir Begovic should keep his place in goal, with Tony Pulis likely to keep the same XI that drew with Wigan after QPR failed to capture the signing of Peter Crouch.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Arsenal have scored 32 goals in 12 league games at the Emirates Stadium this season and are joint highest home scorers with Manchester United.
- However, the Gunners have only won two of their last six games at home, and have only registered one victory in the Premier League in five.
- Santi Cazorla (pictured right) is the only Arsenal player to have started every league game for the Gunners this season.
- The last two meetings between these sides have been draws; a stalemate at the Emirates in August 2012 and 1-1 at the Britannia Stadium towards the end of last season.
- Stoke have only won once away from home in the league in 12 attempts this season.
- The Potters have only picked up one point from their last four Premier League encounters.
|William Hill: £25 in free bets|
|Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
Top 3 Predictions
Arsenal FC 3-1 Stoke City
- 19.58 %
Arsenal FC 3-0 Stoke City
- 14.3 %
Arsenal FC 2-0 Stoke City
- 12.93 %
|Premier League (EPL)||1 Mar 2014||Stoke City 1 - Arsenal FC 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||22 Sep 2013||Arsenal FC 3 - Stoke City 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||2 Feb 2013||Arsenal FC 1 - Stoke City 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||26 Aug 2012||Stoke City 0 - Arsenal FC 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||28 Apr 2012||Stoke City 1 - Arsenal FC 1|
|11 Mar 2014||FC Bayern München 1 - Arsenal FC 1||UCL|
|8 Mar 2014||Arsenal FC 4 - Everton 1||FA|
|1 Mar 2014||Stoke City 1 - Arsenal FC 0||EPL|
|22 Feb 2014||Arsenal FC 4 - Sunderland 1||EPL|
|19 Feb 2014||Arsenal FC 0 - FC Bayern München 2||UCL|
All eyes will be on the Gunners’ new £8 million signing on Saturday. With Kieran Gibbs ruled out and Andre Santos producing a disappointing performance from the bench against Liverpool, Arsene Wenger will be hoping the 26-year-old can fit into the team straight away.
There was much speculation over the future of the Potters goalkeeper, with a move to Manchester United mooted, but the Bosnia international is staying put and will be desperate to perform after Tony Pulis signed highly-rated 19-year-old Jack Butland. Arsenal have scored plenty at home this season so Begovic is likely to have his work cut out.
The Gunners didn’t have a sparkling January, but they will be buoyed by their comeback against Liverpool in midweek. Stoke, however, were on the other end of a two-goal fightback, throwing away the lead against Wigan. Arsene Wenger had another trademark quiet transfer window, but the arrival of Nacho Monreal could spur on a defence that has looked out of sorts recently, and they should come out on top.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed