Premier League Preview: Arsenal Vs Stoke

Premier League Preview: Arsenal Vs Stoke

The Emirates will play host to Stoke City on Saturday, December 18, when the Potters take on Arsenal in match week 18.

The Gunners are coming off a 1-0 loss to Manchester United in match week 17, and the game exposed Arsenal’s tendency to choke against the big teams, and that could prove the biggest stumbling block to their title bid, this season. Barring a spell in the second half when Gunners established a pattern, they never looked like taking three points away from the game, as has been the case in their six previous meetings with the Red Devils, comprising five losses and a draw.

Blackpool brought Stoke’s five-match unbeaten run to an end, in match week 17. Stoke have arguably been the most inconsistent team this season, and the 1-0 score-line does little justice to describing Blackpool’s dominance on the day. The Seasiders ruled in midfield, their passing was crisp and they never allowed the Potters to settle.

While pre-season relegation favourites Blackpool have confounded the pundits, all season, their back-line has been porous. And the fact that Stoke could not breach their defence is a more eloquent commentary on the game than anything else. While Etherington and Fuller gave a good account of themselves up front, as did Begovic between the posts, near misses and a late assault could not prevent Tangerines from banking three points from the game.

Arsenal, who despite the loss at Old Trafford are in second place in the points table, have had a 3-1 advantage over 12th-placed Potters, in four past league meetings. The last game, in February 2010, ended 3-1 in Gunners’ favour.

While Arsene Wenger’s charges have won five of their eight home games, they have lost the remaining three. Stoke have not had a great record on the road, losing five of eight away games, while winning two and drawing the one.

Gunners will seek to atone for their loss to United by exploiting home advantage against Tony Pulis’s men who lack the fire-power to test Arsenal’s back-line, ramshackle as it has been this season. 

Arsenal had the following men in their starting eleven against Stoke:Szczesny, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Rosicky, Wilshere, Nasri, Chamakh and Arshavin. Walcott, Fabregas and van Persie featured as substitutes.

Stoke’s starting eleven against Blackpool comprised Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Collins,Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Etherington, Jones and Fuller. Walters, Whelan and Sanli were the substitutes used.