Last Friday, Arsenal managed to overcome Leicester in a dramatic finish, when subs Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey tucked in 2 goals for the final result of 4:3 in favor of their club. This Saturday, Wenger and his players travel to bet365 Stadium, home of the Stoke City, hoping they will manage to continue their winning streak in English Premier League.

Stoke City

When the 2016/2017 season began, many thought that Stoke City is a top 10 team and that they could even get into the situation to fight for one of the European League spots. We all know how that turned out. Stoke City struggled for the majority of the season and couldn't quite get on the winning side despite a talented squad that included Jack Butland, Ibrahim Afellay, and Shaqiri Xherdan among others. Stoke finished in 13th position, although just two points short of the 8th position. This year, the expectations are not high as the last, and even Mark Hughes admitted that the competition is tough and it will be harder than ever to make a step forward.

This could be a reason why, unlike some previous years, Stoke didn't spend much on new players. Still, they did pick up good additions through loans and free transfers. The club spent around £7 million on Bruno Martins Indi, making the last season's loan a permanent move, while Maxim Choupo-Moting, Darren Fletcher, and Josh Tymon joined on free transfers. Kurt Zouma and Jese Rodriguez joined on loan from Chelsea and PSG respectively, bringing more stability to the defense and badly needed options in the front. Some players left the team, most notably Marko Arnautovic, who joined West Ham United.

This season also didn't start well for The Potters, since Stoke was defeated by Everton in the opening fixture. The overall impression was that Stoke lacked the consistency in their game, didn't get enough possession and that their key players like Shaqiri and Bojan Krkic didn't produce what was expected from them. They didn't get on the ball enough and their game could be described as disappointing. If this first game is any indicator, Stoke will once again remain out of the top 10 and maybe even get drawn into the relegation battle if they don't pick things up.

For the game against Arsenal, Mark Hughes will have to shuffle his cards a bit and hope the back line manages to keep up with Arsenal's explosive attack. Stoke's performance in the upcoming match will most definitely depend on how the new additions gel with the rest of the team. Jese Rodriguez is expected to make his debut, but that shouldn't concern the Arsenal fans. Jese has been searching for his true form for more than a year, and he probably won't pose a threat right away. It is important to note that Ibrahim Afellay will not be available due to injury.

Potential starting XI: Butland; Zouma, Shawcross, Martins Indi; Diouf, Allen, Fletcher, Pieters; Shaqiri, Jese, Choupo-Moting.

Arsenal

Arsenal is starting the season with high hopes once again, already grabbing the Community Shield trophy. The last season is the one every Arsenal fan wants to forget. It is the first time since Wenger took over (1996) that the club missed out on UEFA Champions League. Europa League football will replace Champions League clashes, but somehow we doubt that this provides any comfort for the diehard fans.

Compared to the last season, the core of the team remained the same, with strong additions of Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac. They both immediately proved to be a duo that could give some hope for a successful season. Lacazette scored the opening goal in the game against Leicester, while Kolasinac provided an assist for Danny Welbeck. The latter one also provided a goal in the FA Community Shield finals against Chelsea.

Speaking of Leicester game, although Arsenal finished victorious, there are certain things that may cause a concern. First of all, the team continued to solve games late. Wenger started the match with a three man defense but abandoned it when the result was on the line. This game proved that Arsenal still has major issues at the back and that the team can't defend well when the key defensive players are not present. Also, the midfield looked sluggish for the most part of the game but managed to find its rhythm towards the end, handing out crucial assists. Arsenal has a major firepower that is capable to make the opposing defenses desperate even when Alexis Sanchez is sitting out games. But, that won't be enough for the team to make a big breakout if the rest of the squad doesn't pick up.

When it comes to the game against Stoke City, Arsenal is the clear favorite. Alexis Sanchez will be in the stands once again, but Per Mertesacker and Shkodran Mustafi are making the return and bringing badly needed stability at the back. Frances Coquelin is also available for selection, providing additional upgrade compared to the last game starters. Still, many times before Arsenal struggled against Stoke, so we may be in for another dramatic game full of ups and downs. We are sure Wenger wouldn't want it any other way if the final outcome is still a win.

Potential starting XI: Cech; Mustafi, Mertesacker, Monreal; Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac; Ozil, Lacazette, Welbeck

Conclusion

Even if you have something else planned for Saturday, scrap it. This will be one exciting game that promises a lot of goals. We can expect Arsenal coming off with the guns blazing, while Stoke will probably focus more on the defense and wait for their chances from the counter attacks. Arsenal will manage to score, that’s for sure. The only question is will Cech manage to keep his net intact.

Arsenal vs. Stoke:
Games won: 56
Games drawn: 24
Games lost: 25

Average number of goals in the last 5 matches between the two teams: 2.8
Mark Hughes has 15 losses against Arsene Wenger, more than against any other manager

Kick Off: bet365 Stadium, Saturday, 5:30 pm
TV channel: BT Sports 1