Preview: Three games left, Arsenal have ‘automatic CL place’ in their own hands. Newcastle though, could be equal in points if they win their game in hand, still have far worse a goal difference. Other contenders, Chelsea and Sp*rs are 6 and 5 points behind Arsenal respectively. I don’t think both of them could threat Arsenal for 3rd place, unless Arsenal go on a total bender and lose all 3 games. Newcastle and Chelsea also have to play each other, so some points will definitely be dropped there. And for Sp*rs, well what can I say, they’re on a free fall and most out of form team amongst the CL places contenders.
Arsenal have not enjoyed their trips to Stoke; Ramsey in particular is not very fond of the Britannia Stadium. Last time he went there, he returned with his leg in three pieces. It would be an emotional return for him. In the light of recent stories about handshakes, I was wondering should Ramsey shake Shawcross’ hand? :-o
Stoke themselves don’t have much left to play for this season. They are not in a relegation battle as such and neither are they fighting for a place in Europe. Everyone knows how this game will be played. Arsenal will have 70% possession, pass the ball around for fun, Stoke will score from a set piece and that’s that. I would like Arsenal to come back from Stoke without a long-term injury though.
Team News: A few concerns for Wenger; Theo got a hamstring injury last weekend, so he will be out. There are rumors that he may be fit for the last game of the season against West Brom. Arteta is out for the season as well. Diaby, who made a substitute appearance may have picked up yet another knock. Other than that, we’re good to go. Benayoun may start this game. I don’t see Gervinho and Oxlade both starting together. It would have to be one of them. In away games, Wenger has preferred Benayoun on the left-wing instead of an out-n-out winger like Gervinho.
Szny – Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs – Ramsey Song Rosicky – Gervinho RvP Benayoun
Key Battle: Koscielny/Vermaelen vs Crouch
Stoke only know one way to play, well so do Arsenal. So there will be a lot of long balls. Koscielny and Vermaelen need to be on top of their games to counter the threat the bean-pole Crouch will pose. We have improved our defending from Set Pieces lately, but Stoke are quite strong in that department. Who ever goes for the first ball, the other has to be quick and clever to retrieve the knock downs.
Stats Zone: (www.whoscored.com)
Prediction: There may not be many goals in this one; Arsenal will be frustrated for space but will have a lot of time on the ball. Stoke may start their favourite 4 CB formation. Depending on the state of the pitch, Arsenal could suffer with their movement. I am expecting a draw in this one. 1-1
- Stoke have seen over 2.5 goals in their last 4 home matches against Arsenal in all competitions.
- Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 7 matches in Premier League.
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 23 of Arsenal’s last 27 away games in Premier League.
- Diaby jinxed again, Rosicky + Arsecast 239 (arseblog.com)
- Stoke City vs. Arsenal: Is This the Match That Gervinho Comes Back to Life? (bleacherreport.com)
- Preview: Stoke v Arsenal (setanta.com)
- Gunners desparate for third place (capitalfm.co.ke)
- Reasons Why Arsenal Fans Have to Get Off Aaron Ramsey’s Back (goonerdaily.wordpress.com)