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A Hard Earned Point at the Britannia Stadium

Stoke 0 Arsenal 0

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

The Premier League title race took another twist over the weekend with Leicester City dropping points at bottom club, Aston Villa, and Manchester City taking Crystal Palace to the cleaners so the onus was yet again on Arsene Wenger’s side to come up with the goods in a ground the club is known for having poor results.

The biggest news of the day was that Mesut Ozil was going to miss the game due to an inflammation on his foot, so the manager didn’t deem it necessary to risk his most valued asset. Alexis Sanchez was believed to be fit enough for the game but the manager threw caution to the wind by allowing his Chilean hamstring to some more rest. This ultimately meant that the lads that would be selected on the day would have to give their all for the Gunners title bid. Ozil’s absence made Wenger switch to 4-3-3 with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey anchored by Mohamed Elneny Mathieu Flamini. Theo Walcott and Joel Campbell flanked the red-hot Olivier Giroud.

As you expect from a typical Stoke vs Arsenal game, the lads lacked cohesion but it was like a battle on the pitch. The first clear-cut chance arrived when Campbell unleashed his inner Ozil with a sumptuous pass to Giroud but Jack Butland made himself big to deny the Frenchman from continuing his goalscoring form.

Giroud had another chance to put Arsenal ahead when he reacted first to a corner kick and headed a goal-bound effort that was parried to safety by the ever-impressive Butland. From then onwards, it was a Stoke barrage and Arsenal had Petr Cech to thank for a string of superb saves to keep the match at bay. There was a double save in particular from the legendary Czech goalie that made my jaw drop from my mouth. Then there were the punches to safety and claiming crosses to those lovely Adidas gloves of his.

Shortly after the game, Hector Bellerin spoke about how Cech gives the team some confidence and I agree with the Spaniard. The goalie has kept 10 clean sheets in the 22 Premier League games he has featured and in these games the clean sheets have been ‘hardly routine’. When he was departing from Chelsea to Arsenal, John Terry stated that Cech would give the Gunners 12 to 15 points this season. I believe he has done that and even more.

Wenger was criticized for not signing any outfield player in the summer, but in Cech, he got himself a gold mine and I don’t see the likes of David Ospina or Wojciech Szczesny usurping the legend unless it’s a lower competition fixture or he suffers some injury. Having some solidity at the back offers the right platform to attack and Cech has proved his worth to his manager, his teammates and we, the fans.

Watching the lads draw at Anfield was very painful but this draw in Britannia was highly welcome, especially when you think of the fact that Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City were all beaten on the ground. However, it makes Sunday’s game against Chelsea an all-important fixture as Manchester City play away to West Ham and Leicester hosts Stoke.

The Gunners are still on top of the Premier League table after a hard earned point at the Britannia Stadium.

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Stoke Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Britannia: A bogey stadium for the Gunners

The Britannia Stadium has been in a bogey stadium for the Gunners in recent years, with Arsene Wenger’s side getting just one league victory in the stadium in the past 25 years. Stoke have lost just one of their seven league games at the Britannia Stadium against Arsenal (W4 D2 L1).

Arsenal also beat Stoke at the Britannia in the 2010 FA Cup but it would also be forever remembered as the day Ryan Shawcross almost ended Aaron Ramsey’s career. Ramsey has grown from strength to strength since that incident, but Arsenal fans never hide their contempt for Shawcross anytime the sides meet.

Hughes is unbeaten on home soil as an opposition coach against Arsene Wenger in his last seven league matches (W5 D2), spread across five different clubs. Overall at home his record in the league versus Wenger is (W6 D2 L2).

With Manchester City hitting top gear with that victory over Crystal Palace, Arsenal will know that a victory over Stoke will be very important for their title dreams. They have dropped down to third, a point behind the league leaders, Leicester, but level on points with Man City with a lesser goal difference. The Gunners would have been comfortable before this match if they had won Liverpool at Anfield but they got a sucker punch from Joe Allen late on.

Arsenal Team News

Arsene Wenger will have to make a decision on the availability of Alexis Sanchez for the game. The Chilean had not featured since aggravating a hamstring injury in November but he was pictured training with his teammates, which means he can be available for selection. However, he ruled Tomas Rosicky out, stating that the Czech midfielder would need some Under-21 games to get a hang of things.

New signing, Mohamed Elneny, is available for selection as well, and it’s down to Wenger to decide if he’s going to start against Stoke. The boss says that Egyptian fans can be proud of their import because he’s odds on to make a good name for himself in the Premier League. Down the years, players like Mido, Hossam Ghaly, Ahmed Elmohammady, Amr Zaki and more recently, Mohamed Salah have all come to the Premier League and contributed well to their respective teams, so I expect Elneny to follow suite.

Arsenal Injury / Suspension News

Jack Wilshere (ankle), Danny Welbeck (knee), Francis Coquelin (knee), Alexis Sanchez (hamstring), Santi Cazorla (knee), David Ospina (groin), Tomas Rosicky (lack of match fitness)

Arsenal Predicted Lineup

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Stoke Team News

Sensational winger, Xherdan Shaqiri, has suffered a hamstring injury that would rule him out from today’s game and Marko Arnautovic was withdrawn from the Norwich game as a precaution from a hamstring scare. He would face a late fitness test today to ascertain whether he will be fit for the game.

The Gunners would have to watch out for Jon Walters that has finally found his scoring boots again. After going on a drought of nine games without a goal, he has scored in his last three games for the Potters.

Stoke Injury / Suspension News

Shay Given (knee), Geoff Cameron (ankle), Marc Muniesa (ankle), Xherdan Shaqiri (hamstring)

Stoke Predicted Lineup

Stoke City 4-2-3-1 football formation

Team Form

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: L W W W D
  • Last Result: Liverpool 3 (Firmino 10′, 19′, Allen 90′) – Arsenal 3 (Ramsey 14′, Giroud 25′, 55′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Olivier Giroud (18)

Stoke

  • Last Five Games: L W L L W
  • Last Result: Stoke 3 (Walters 49′, Joselu 67′, Bennett 0.g. 78′)– Norwich 1 (Howson 56′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Marko Arnautovic, Jonathan Walters (7)

Gooner Daily predicts a 3 – 2 win.

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Stoke Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

I hope he breaks his scoring duck today

*removes cobwebs from blog*

That was quite a break. With the paucity of things happening at the club coupled with some international football, I decided to take a mini break from writing about the club but real football is back, so here I am.

The best news about the international break was that there were no further casualties but there was the sad news that Jack Wilshere suffered a setback and would be out for quite some time. The two players we thought were going to recover after the international break and add something to the side are still nursing injuries. Oh well!

Let’s head straight to the preview shall we?

Arsenal Team News

The only thing at the back of the fans mind today would be, who would score the goals for the Gunners, because they’ve become hard to come by in recent weeks. Arsenal’s home record against Stoke is very impressive with Arsene Wenger’s side recording 11 straight wins against the Potters on home soil. However, the Gunners have failed to score in five of their last six home league games, recording one win, three draws and two defeats. Arsenal’s shot conversion ratio is 5.6% – only Liverpool, with 5.4%, have a lower figure.

There’s great news concerning Wenger’s best defensive duo, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker as both players are fit for today’s game. Mesut Ozil also played 90 minutes for Germany in midweek so he’s fit to start.

 

Arsenal Injury / Suspension News

Jack Wilshere (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (knee) and Danny Welbeck (knee)

Arsenal Predicted Lineup

 

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Stoke Team News

 

 

Despite the improvement in their overall technical play, Stoke has ensured a very torrid start to the season, losing two and drawing three of their last five games. Their disciplinary record was also questionable as they were on the spotlight for their last performance against West Brom, where they ended the game with just nine men following the red cards brandished to Charlie Adam and Ibrahim Afellay.

Following the summer spending, one would have thought that Stoke’s fortunes would improve this season but it has been a case of a series of heart breaks and near misses for the Stoke faithful. A late Philippe Coutinho strike changed one point to zero for the side and therer were two quickfire draws against Tottenham and Norwich. Then of course, there was the defeat to West Brom a fortnight ago.

I don’t expect Stoke to get anything out of today’s match and the record books aren’t in their favor as well.

Stoke Injury / Suspension News

Ryan Shawcross (back), Peter Odemwingie (hamstring), Glen Johnson (groin), Marko Arnautovic (ankle), Miran Diouf (ankle), Charlie Adam (suspension), Ibrahim Afellay (suspension)

Stoke Predicted Lineup

Stoke City 4-2-3-1 football formation

 

Team Form

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: W L W D W
  • Last Result: Newcastle 0 – Arsenal 1 (Coloccini own goal 52′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Own Goal (2)

Stoke

  • Last Five Games: L D D D L
  • Last Result: Stoke 0 – West Brom 1 (Rondon 45′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Miram Diouf (2)

Gooner Daily predicts 3 – 0 to the Arsenal

Sayonara.

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