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Belgian named in Gunners' matchday squad for the first time since August after picking up an Achilles injury whilst on international duty last September

Thomas Vermaelen is poised to make his return from an Achilles injury which has kept the Arsenal centre-back sidelined since September.

The Belgian has been named among Arsene Wenger's substitutes for the Gunners' clash with Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium for the first time since picking up his injury while on international duty last year.

Wenger is without Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Abou Diaby after the trio picked up injuries during the week. Andrey Arshavin, who has been linked with a move away from the Emirates, is drafted into Arsenal's attack, while Kieran Gibbs starts at left-back instead of Gael Clichy, who has also been reported to be leaving the club this summer.

For Stoke City, Tony Pulis has elected to field the same line-up which drew with Blackpool last weekend, although 22-year-old right-back Ryan Shotton has been named among the hosts' substitutes.

Stoke City: Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Pennant, Whelan, Whitehead, Delap; Walters, Jones. Subs: Sorensen, Collins, Pugh, Diao, Carew, Faye, Shotton.

Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Gibbs; Song, Wilshere, Ramsey; Walcott, Van Persie, Arshavin. Subs: Lehmann, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Squillaci, Eboue, Chamakh, Bendtner.

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