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Arsenal vs. Stoke City

Ashburton Grove

2nd February, 2013

3pm

Arsenal v Stoke Preview

Arsenal host Stoke City in North London following a mixed January. With the transfer window now closed, hopefully everybody can focus on the football again.

Arsenal's need for 3 points is big, but Stoke will be looking to arrest a slide that has seen them tumble to the outskirts of the relegation battle.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene Wenger is weighing up whether to throw new signing Nacho Monreal straight into the starting line up against Stoke, 'Nacho Monreal] is available for the Stoke game. I have not made a decision yet. We bought Monreal as a left-back but he can play as well as a left-sided midfielder. We bought him as well because we believe he can integrate into our style of play and adapt very quickly to that. He has the characteristics to play our game because he is very mobile, has a good left foot and is very good in combination play. That is vital in our style of play.'

Meanwhile, Stoke assistant Dave Kemp felt Stoke had done mixed business in January, 'We've brought in two excellent young players (Jack Butland and Brek Shea) but they are both for the future. To be honest, the squad is unbalanced. We've been aware of that since the summer. We tried to correct it in the last window and didn't manage it, and the plan was to get through to this window and address it and unfortunately we haven't.'

Arsenal Team News:

Kieran Gibbs could be out for as much as two months with a thigh injury, Arsene Wenger will decide between Andre Santos and Nacho Monreal at left back.

Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) is a doubt, but Mikel Arteta (ankle) could return. Francis Coquelin (hamstring), Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) and Gervinho (international duty) are still out.

Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Mannone; Jenkinson, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, A.Santos, Arteta, Diaby, Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky, S.Cazorla, Chamberlain, Podolski, Arshavin, Walcott, Giroud.

Player to watch: Whoever plays left back

Whether it be off form Andre Santos or new boy Nacho Monreal, Peter Crouch is likely to peel off onto Arsenal's left back and give him a tough time.

It's either going to be a baptism of fire for Monreal or a chance for Santos to stand up and demonstrate some form.

Stoke City Team News:

Stoke have no new injuries. Rory Delap and Matthew Upson left the club on deadline day. New signing Jack Butland has been loaned back to Birmingham, whilst Brek Shea awaits his visa and is recovering from a foot operation in any case.

Marc Wilson is recovering from a broken leg and lacks match fitness.

Stoke City (from): Begovic, Sorensen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Ness, Lund, Cameron, N'Zonzi, Whitehead, Whelan, Adam, Jones, Shotton, Palacios, Etherington, Walters, Jerome, Crouch, Owen, Kightly.

Player to watch: Peter Crouch

The beanpole striker has a good record against Arsenal. Per Mertesacker can match him in inches but not in aerial prowess. Crouch's knockdowns to Jonathan Walters will be a feature of Stoke's attacking play.

Match Facts & Stats

There have been just six yellow cards in the four matches betweeen these sides at the Emirates Stadium

Stoke have conceded 15 goals in their past five league games - they had let in just 14 in their previous 19 matches.

Arsenal have won all of their last ten home games against Stoke City.

Arsenal has scored 32 goals in 12 league games at the Emirates Stadium this season and is 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.

Ref Watch:

The referee will be Chris Foy, who tends to like Stoke if memory serves. Either that or he hates Tottenham.

Match Prediction:

I expect Arsenal to win this, though not at a canter. Stoke will be physical, defensive, robust and all those other adjectives that are basically a posh way of saying, 'They'll stick ten behind the ball and boot it up to Crouchy.' But they do that well. 2-0 Arsenal. Giroud and Sagna.

Next Fixtures:

Arsenal are away at Sunderland next Saturday. Stoke play at home to Reading.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday February 1 2013

Time: 8:53PM

Your Comments

Every time I predict we will win easily (we we bloody should have) we struggle like crazy, so in an attempted reverse jinx I'm going to say we'll struggle and it'll finish 1-1 with Walcott scoring very late on.
Rocky7
(Arsenal)Player to watch: whoever plays left back. So apt.
Naijagunner
Can't be 2-0 LD, by definition we have to concede first before we start playing.
grouvillegooner
I fully expect a victory for the Arsenal and a sizeable margin at that. The orcs don't have what it takes to prevent a good drubbing. Will be interesting to see how Nacho fairs; I expect Arsene will start with Santos, just to buttress his assertion that Santos will have a say in our season, then bring on Nacho late on. Interesting to see how he fares against Crouch (both share some resemblance and will look to convince one another they ain't relatives.), if he chooses to play from our LB's side.
Naijagunner
Stoke's defensive record in the last 5-7 games may not be good but if we consider the season as a whole, they have a very good defensive record.They also find that extra gear while playing us because of the previous history between the sides. Not expecting a comfortable win. It is going to be tense and edgy game probably decided by a 1 goal difference.
Deltaforce
Seems Nacho gets thrown in at the deep end right away. That's a strong statement to Santos and he.
Naijagunner
Strong start, good defensive play so far, good defensive work up the pitch. Need to up the tempo, start playing a few more one-twos and taking a few more shots.
Arsenales F.C
What was all that about? Good thing the Ref overruled the assistant ref.
Naijagunner
Hope we can sustain the pressure and get two. We need to look at hitting them on the break, when the pretend the want to get an equalizer.
Naijagunner
Phew!
Naijagunner
Get in.
Sajit
I like Monreal.. i think i really do
Sajit
Great result. I only saw the second half and we looked pretty fluid. Monreal looks like a nice acquisitiom too. Shawcross should have seen red the dirty *****-spanner. Hopefully Arsene can stir the pot in his post match interview.
Rocky7
Maes a chgange. Monreal looked good as well. Couple shaky moments, but good recoveries.
Arsenales F.C
Strong performance from the team, needed that clean sheet after last week as well. Solid all round, no complaints about anyone on the pitch
Arsenales F.C
Tactics by Wenger spot on as well.
Arsenales F.C
Could sense a nervy game today and very glad we managed to pull that win off. Fantastic win in light of the chavs and the toffees dropping points. Nacho should continue to be a starter!
Deltaforce
That ended well, though I'd say we made hard work of breaking through Stoke's defence. We need to be more direct and shoot on sight more often, rather than trying to go round the parked lorry, why not shoot it down? I'm glad Mertesacker challenged the linesman over the goal being disallowed, that's the fastest I've seen him run :) All in all, we've finally won a game 1-0 (or anything to nil!), which is a nice confidence booster. Monreal was ok, always looking for an overlap and dealing with Stoke's few attacks ok enough.
NADH-91
We are The Arsenal we stand when we want.
nikolaijns
Loved young Jack sorting out veteran Owen on behalf of grown up Arteta. Should be wrong to condone it really but I can still take some guilty pleasure in the spirit Wilshere shows.
Amos.
So Pulis is disappointed by Arsenal players approaching the linesman over his ridiculous call was he? Yet straight after the ref overrules and awards the goal he's surrounded and harangued and laid hands on by 3 Stoke players. Hypocritical little goblin.
nikolaijns
Anyone else noticed just how much better Theo has become? More assured in possession and patient with picking passes through defences. If that is what a new improved contract (which meets expectations) can do, shouldn't we be looking to do more of that more often? :-)
Naijagunner
What an awful side Stoke really are, led by that pleb Pulis. Had Santi been on the pitch from the start (not meant as a criticism of team selection as was obviously a reason for it), I suspect we would have been leading the game from much earlier as they had 10 men behind the ball at all times and there was no space whatsoever. You need a special player or two in those circumstances and Santi is probably really the only one who has the key to unlock the door frequently. Walcott looks a player transformed, seems to really be growing up fast and becoming more aggressive on the pitch. The Ox is largely disappointing which is a shame, perhaps its just second season syndrome. I'd like to see Podolski playing centrally up front sometimes just in case we need him there if Giroud gets injured so at least he'll have some match play in that position. I also get the sense that having an experienced left back like Monreal is really going to help us more than what we think, as good as Gibbs has been. On the other side, Sagna looks to have lost half a yard of pace. Either that or is in need of a breather after two broken legs.
Gooner_Vin
Perhaps, I think the confidence in his play came after his left-footed piledriver against Sweden. We should have him working more on his left foot, crossing and passing, so he'll score more goals. He's got a perfectly good left, on his first 50 goals compilation on Youtube about 10 goals were scored with his left. Chamberlain's pretty good with his left as well so I think Southampton tend to make sure their players are two-footed - we need to work on that more, especially with Wilshere. That's probably one of our biggest problem in developing talent. Occassionally you'll get a player with an outstanding left foot like Wilshere, but really you need two-footed players in this day and age. Wilshere's good but he really needs to become more two-footed to be a true great, Walcott and Chambo have already been developed with two-footedness in their play, just need to be encouraged to use them more.
Arsenales F.C
For me the team selection was spot on. If Cazorla was on from the start he'd've been bullied out of the game and outworked, we needed the Diaby, Arteta, Wilshere midfield so we could win the battle in midfield. And how was Chamberlain disappointing, he was our biggest threat and he's 19, we were giving Nasri the benefit of the doubt when he was 22, and only scoring 2 league goals and putting in 5 assists. Of course Podolski is better atm, but Chamberlain is a good option to have, at age 19 he can come straight into the team, no problem, no questions asked. The team was selected to prevent Stoke from physically overpowering us, and still be creative enough to get a goal, we would've done so were it not for Begovic. When we'd outcompeted Stoke and run them ragged we put on our strongest attacking line-up, and finished them off. Those were perfect tactics.
Arsenales F.C
 

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