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Premier League

  • 8 May 2011
  • • 14:05
  • • Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
  • Referee: M. Halsey
  • • Attendance: 27478

Stoke City - Arsenal Preview: Gunners look to maintain best away form in the Premier League

Stoke City - Arsenal Preview: Gunners look to maintain best away form in the Premier League

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Midfielder Aaron Ramsey looks to banish demons of Britannia Stadium horror injury, as Van Persie aims for 8th away goal in a row and Potters look for third consecutive clean sheet

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Stoke City (4-4-2): Begovic; Wilson, Huth, Shawcross, Wilkinson; Pennant, Whithead, Whelan, Delap; Jones, Walters.

Expect Tony Pulis to the name side that drew a blank away at Blackpool last weekend, with Andy Wilkinson having recovered from a dead leg.

The game will no doubt be used as a stage by the Stoke players to ensure their place in the FA Cup final team next weekend, while Ryan Shawcross’s first encounter against Aaron Ramsey since that infamous tackle will doubtless also provide a sideshow to the fixture.

Arsenal (4-3-3): Szczesny; Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielney, Clichy; Ramsey, Song, Wilshere; Walcott, Van Persie, Arshavin.

With Cesc Fabregas still sidelined with a thigh strain, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere will look to control central midfield, while Andrey Arshavin looks set to replace the injured Samir Nasri who misses out with a hamstring injury.

Thomas Vermaelen could make his first appearance since August, standing in for Johan Djourou who is doubtful due to an ankle injury.

  • Arsenal have won four games on the bounce against Stoke City, with Sebastien Squillaci’s only league goal for the north London club sealing a 1-0 victory at the Emirates in February.
  • Stoke however have not lost in any of the games in which they have taken the lead this season, winning nine and drawing four.
  • The Potters have only lost one of their last six games, having drawn three and lost two.
  • Arsenal have given away nine penalties so far this campaign, the highest conceded in the Premier League.
  • The Gunners' fragility has been highlighted once again this season, yet their defensive record tells a somewhat different story, and with 30 points from 17 games, they have the best away record in the division.
  • Stoke boasted a four-game winning streak against Sunday’s opponents, until they were defeated 3-1 in last season’s meeting at the Britannia Stadium.
  • Robin van Persie (pictured above right) has found the net in each of the last seven away games, and also has an impressive record of 18 goals from 20 games in 2011.
  • If the Stoke backline can keep Van Persie & co at bay, it will be their third clean sheet in a row – the first time for 13 months this has happened.
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Players to watch

K. Jones

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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The former Sunderland man has bagged eight goals in the Premier League this season making him Stoke’s top goalscorer in his first campaign at the club following an £8 million move to the Potteries last summer.

The Trinidad and Tobago international certainly has the physical presence to rattle an Arsenal defence which has looked fragile at times throughout the season, and he will no doubt be the home side’s most potent threat in Sunday’s clash.

A. Ramsey

Position: Midfielder

Games: 0

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No doubt the focus will be on the Welshman as he faces a poignant return to the Britannia Stadium where he suffered a double fracture of his right leg in February 2010.

Ramsey has the potential to better his central midfield counterpart Jack Wilshere, and will be buoyed by his winner in last Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United. The 20-year-old’s directness and ability to switch play could be a key factor as Arsenal look to unlock the Stoke City defence with their pace.

Editor's Prediction

Despite Arsenal looking destined to complete another trophyless campaign, they may well have been liberated from their recent malaise after a stirring victory over league leaders Manchester United last weekend.

No doubt Stoke will have next weekend’s FA Cup final against Manchester City lingering in the back of their minds at least, and I expect a well contested victory for Arsene Wenger’s men, whose determination to prove their worth should resonate into their performance on the pitch on Sunday.

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