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February 23, 2011 7:45 PM GMT
Emirates Stadium — London
Referee:‬ P. Walton‎
Attendance:‬ 60041‎
 

Premier League Preview: Arsenal - Stoke City

By Oliver Yew



Time To Focus On The League

It must be difficult sometimes for Arsenal's players to remember what competition they are playing in next.

They are in the middle of a run which has and will see them play four consecutive games in four different competitions.

The phrase 'take each game as it comes' might be an old cliche but it is vitally important for Arsenal as they turn their attention to the Premier League.

Arsene Wenger's side have a vital opportunity to close the gap on Manchester United to one point - albeit by playing a game extra.

With it being over a week until Arsenal's next league game because of cup commitments, it is vital they are fully focused and pick up all three points, otherwise by the time Sunderland visit north London on March 5 the league could have slipped away from them.

A Case For Discipline

Stoke have been looking forward to this fixture with the Gunners ever since Arsene Wenger accused Tony Pulis' side of playing 'rugby' on a football pitch.

The comments infuriated everyone associated with Stoke and they will not need anymore firing up before stepping onto the field.

It might be worth Pulis pointing out to his Arsenal counterpart that maybe he should look a bit closer to home when complaining about rough house tactics.

The north London side are no saints themselves and have a worse disciplinary record this season than Stoke.

Wenger's team have picked up 44 yellow and six red cards in Premier League matches so far while Stoke have 46 yellows and two red cards to their name.

TEAM NEWS

Arsenal

Arsene Wenger will ring the changes once again and recall many of the senior players who missed out on the FA Cup tie against Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road.

Johan Djourou could return to the squad after missing the last match with a back problem. The defender has made good progress and is set to partner Laurent Koscielny at the heart of Arsenal's defence.

Abou Diaby is still out injured with a calf injury and he also serves the final game of his three-match suspension.

Defender Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles) and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski (shoulder) are still sidelined.

Possible starting XI: Szczesny; Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy; Fabregas, Song, Wilshere; Walcott, Van Persie, Nasri.

Stoke

Tony Pulis could be without winger Matthew Etherington, who picked up a knock to his back in the FA Cup win over Brighton. He will be assessed and a late call will be made over his fitness.

Pulis will also have to decide between goalkeepers Thomas Sorensen and Asmir Begovic for the trip to north London.

Sorensen started the game against Brighton but Begovic is likely to reclaim the starting spot at the Emirates stadium.

Mamady Sidibe (Achilles) is still out of action and will not be available for the remainder of the season.

Possible starting XI: Begovic; Huth, Wilson, Shawcross, Pugh; Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Walters; Jones, Carew.


Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Wojciech SzczesnyGoalkeeper
3Bacary SagnaDefender
18Sébastien SquillaciDefender
5Johan DjourouDefender
22Gael ClichyDefender
4Cesc FàbregasMidfielder
17Alex SongMidfielder
10Jack WilshereMidfielder
8Samir NasriMidfielder
14Theo WalcottStriker
23Nicklas BendtnerStriker
1Manuel AlmuniaGoalkeeper
27Emmanuel EboueDefender
28Kieran GibbsDefender
7Tomas RosickyMidfielder
15DenilsonMidfielder
10Andrey ArshavinMidfielder
29Marouane ChamakhStriker
1Asmir BegovicGoalkeeper
12Marc WilsonDefender
17Ryan ShawcrossDefender
4Robert HuthDefender
-Danny PughMidfielder
7Jermaine PennantMidfielder
18Dean WhiteheadMidfielder
24Rory DelapMidfielder
6Glenn WhelanMidfielder
19Jonathan WaltersStriker
10John Alieu CarewStriker
29Thomas SørensenGoalkeeper
3Danny HigginbothamDefender
5Danny CollinsDefender
28Andy WilkinsonDefender
15Salif DiaoDefender
9Kenwyne JonesStriker
10Ricardo FullerStriker
Players to Watch
Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 20
Games Goals YC RC
18 11 2 0
There is no doubt the man in form for the Gunners is Dutch striker Robin van Persie. The Netherlands international has been in blistering form since the turn of the year and has scored 10 league goals in seven matches in 2011. The total is more than any other player and he will be looking to continue his fine form against Stoke.
Kenwyne Jones
Kenwyne Jones
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
8 1 0 0
The big Norwegian has been a thorn in the side of Arsenal in the past, most notably in the Champions League back in 2001 when his late header for Valencia sent the Gunners crashing out of the competition at the quarter-final stage.

Since joining Stoke in January from Aston Villa, Carew has settled in nicely and he has found the back of the net on two occasions. His aerial ability and strength will be a big danger to the Gunners.
Prediction
Stoke will try and get under the skin of the Arsenal players by getting into their faces and getting stuck in, but the match is at the Emirates and not the Britannia Stadium.

The Gunners also have a decent recent record against the Potters in the Premier League, winning their last three encounters.

If Arsenal move the ball quickly on the big pitch at the Emirates they will find plenty of space and time to play. With the players that the home side boast, they should have too much quality in attack for the Potters.
Editor's Prediction
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