Arsenal look for two in a row against Stoke City amid transfer headache
Arsenal face off against Stoke City away at Bet365 Stadium in what should be a tasty Premier League fixture later today as they look to keep up their mini running streak.
The Gunners nearly went off to a bad start to their campaign yet again when they went 3-2 down to Leicester City at Emirates Stadium last Friday. However, late resurgence and the energy injected by second-half substitutes meant they secured all there points in the seven-goal thriller.
Away at the Stanley Mathews Way stadium, though, they’ll likely be facing a bigger threat, given their performance history against them. With Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, Manchester City and Manchester United all registering wins themselves, they should win at all costs to remain title contenders in what’s been pencilled in to be a close season.
Arsene Wenger welcomes back German centrebacks Per Mertersacker and Shkodran Mustafi, while Francis Coquelin is also expected to return to the fold. Laurent Koscielny will find himself at the heart of the defence again, after sitting out the opener through suspension, with Mesut Ozil set to join him in the starting eleven. Alexis Sanchez (abdomen) and Santi Cazorla (ankle) are the only injured absentees, while Lucas Perez and Gabriel Paulista won’t be in the squad thanks to their transfers away from the FA Cup winners.
No other club that has shown as much promise as the Potters has been unsuccessful as them. They could only finish 10 points off the relegated teams last season despite boasting a team of Champions League winners and national team regulars. The nascent season doesn’t look their stage to shine as well, as their opener saw them lose 1-0 to Wayne Rooney-inspired Everton. Knowing a victory over title hopefuls Arsenal will help them announce themselves, they will look to avoid making losing a habit.
Mark Hughes recently announced the signing of another CL winner in Jese Rodriguez on a season-long loan from Paris Saint-Germain, and he’ll be involved in some capacity although not a lot of pundits expect him to start the game straightaway. Ibrahim Afellay (knee) and Stephen Ireland (broken leg) remain unavailable, while teenage striker Julien Ngoy joins them on the sidelines after sustaining a thigh injury.
Either team will field a 3-4-3 line-up, given every England team’s newfound obsession with three-man defence. The hosts boast a decent defensive unit that could make scoring goals difficult for the London side, with Kurt Zouma, Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron guarding Jack Butland’s goal. However, with strongmen Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey now earning a reputation as impact substitutes who capitalize on defenders’ fatigue, they may as well end up sealing the game with a late goal or two.
With the Potters facing heavyweights such as Chelsea and United in September, they may not want to set a bad precedent by losing to another heavyweight. Arsenal, on the other hand, with matches against Liverpool and Chelsea on the horizon, will want to accumulate as many points as possible to hand themselves a psychological edge.