the three letters tar inside a cannon
article banner
JokAFC avatar


Stoke City Vs Arsenal Match Preview

After our 4-3 opening day win over Leicester City, there was plenty of questions about how Arsene Wenger intends to push the side forward.The mettle that was showed in earning the win was commendable, as was the inspired double substitution which saw the replacements - Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud - score both the equaliser and the winner. The standard of defending that was on display though, was well below what is needed if we are to improve on last season and make a concerted push for the title. Wenger had this to answer and many other questions in his recent press conference, but the return of some of our first choice defenders should settle the backline somewhat. Shkodran Mustafi and Per Mertesacker both missed the win over the Foxes, but the German pair should be available for selection. Mustafi has not played a game yet and may be a little rusty, but his inclusion would reinforce our defence. Whether Wenger will opt for three at the back or four will all depend on how he gauges the opposition - and a trip to Stoke is always one of our sterner tests.Mesut Ozil seemed a way off his usual levels of sharpness last week, so another game will take the German playmaker a step closer to his best levels. Alexis Sanchez is another matter however. The Chilean has again been ruled out with an abdomen strain, but Wenger stated Alexis should be available for inclusion for the next game, versus Liverpool. Wenger has some tough decisions to make, even without the services of Alexis. Danny Welbeck is always an able worker who would do well putting in a shift, but Olivier Giroud made a huge difference as a substitute. If the Frenchman does come into the side, it probably won’t be at the expense of Alexandre Lacazette, so that would mean a change in formation if Giroud does get picked. Will Wenger shake up the side to this degree in the second game of the season? I highly doubt it, but Giroud is also a good body for the physical test that Stoke will bring. It will be very interesting to see the eleven chosen, and how Lacazette fares in another tough game. Francis Coquelin will be back in the squad, but this game is too soon for the returning Jack Wilshere, who played recently for the Under-23’s. The England midfielder should be close to match fitness soon however. Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has a number of talented individuals at his disposal that can hurt any team, but Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan Krkic and Ibrahim Afellay all fail to optimise their potential the majority of the time, or they simply don’t get into the team. Hughes does have other tricks up his sleeve though.With Peter Crouch available, it means he either has an aerial weapon that would unsettle Arsenal’s shaky defence, or he has a Plan B that could change the outlook of a game. Joe Allen and new boy Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting can also add a few problems, but it will be their defence that will see the battle that swings the match take place.With loan signing Kurt Zouma slotting into the team, and Ryan Shawcross always stretching our attackers, the emphasis will be on our attack to outwit their opponents, whilst also tracking back to avoid being countered painfully. Arsenal have a chequered history playing in the Potteries. Just two wins have been earned in ten visits to The Britannia, and this is one proving ground that could be the litmus test for our title credentials. A win here would go a long way to gaining the confidence we need to go on a run which hoists us up towards the top of the league.Four goals in our first game was fantastic, but most fans would prefer for our nerves not to be shredded again in a similar fashion. Either way, a win would be a great tonic with a game against Liverpool on the horizon. This is one hell of a game to call.Predicted Lineup - Cech, Mustafi, Mertesacker, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kolasinac, Ozil, Welbeck, LacazettePredicted Scoreline - 2-0 to The Arsenal.