Stoke City vs. Arsenal PreviewBy: Lachlan | August 25th, 2012
If I’m going to be honest, this has to be my least favourite fixture of the season; I always get so nervous. Whenever we play another of the contenders, especially away, I feel as if anything less than 3 points is acceptable, and that we can forgive the team for losing at Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge. Away to Stoke is a game that we have to be winning if we want to be contenders for the League, and doing so is something we have struggled with in recent seasons. 3 points should put us in a decent position on the table relative to the other contending teams, and a good run early in the season needs to start today.
Stoke are a terrible team to play. They don’t play good football at all, yet many teams find their style of play very difficult to defend against, Arsenal included. Out of the six times that we have played there since Stoke somehow managed to find themselves in the Premier League, Stoke have won four of those games, and Arsenal have won once. I guess that this record can be at least somewhat attributed to our inability to defend set pieces in recent seasons. Stoke have scored two thirds of their goals against Arsenal from set pieces, and 58% of their Premier League goals in total. Given the fact that already the defence seems as if they are much more organised now, it would make sense that we are at least somewhat protected against these goals.
Given our ‘poor performance’ last week (I have watched the game now, and I don’t actually think it was that bad, but not getting the three points is a bit of a failure really) we really need to put in a good performance this week. Although if we are to be positive and say that Tottenham and Newcastle have dropped points this week already, another way of looking at it, is that Chelsea are already up to 3 wins, so we really need to put in a decent run and build up some confidence before we travel to Anfield next week.
In team news, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Fabianski are back in, and Koscielny is out for one more game (at the moment). There has also been talk of Szczesny have an injury and will undergo a late test, but it sound promising for him. Other than that, there are only the long-termers still out, being Rosicky, Sagna, Wilshere and Frimpong.
I guess it is a good thing that Fabianski is back, but this is the exact sort of game where we really wouldn’t want him playing, given his penchant for flapping at crosses and aerial balls, two things that Stoke make use of incessantly. Fingers crossed that Wojo pulls up alright.
Obviously it would be nice to have Koscielny in, but Stoke is a team that having Mertesacker’s added height will be very handy for. Crouch seems to score against Arsenal in every game, and it would be nice to have someone nearer his height who can try to mark him in the box. Hopefully Steve Bould’s influence might become apparent (in a good way) in this game, and we won’t concede from a set piece or an aerial ball (or a fucking Rory Delap special). Maybe we might even get lucky and score from a corner!
Anyway, I’ll have a bit of a crack at the lineup:
OK, here’s my best guess at a lineup:
Jenkinson Mertesacker Vermaelen Gibbs
Bench: Fabianksi, Santos, Djourou, AOC, Gervinho, Ramsey, Chamakh
I’m one of those crazy people who think that we should be giving Bendtner a run, and this would be a perfect game to put him on the bench, hopefully over Chamakh. I think we should keep him really, he is a decent player with reasonable potential, and I think that this season there is potential for him to get a little time up top, especially if we play two strikers (surely we will occasionally). Sure, he is nowhere near as dreamy as Giroud, and hasn’t got the ability of Podolski, but he is a right cock, and players like Rooney and Van Persie are evidence that cocks make for good strikers. I will trust Wenger’s judgement on this one though, and if he thinks he needs to go, then he needs to go.
I believe that someone will try to run a Liveblog this week (Perry is looking into it) and we should have a match review up a few days after the game.
In other news it looks like I should have Fox sports next week, so I should be right to actually watch the games from the Liverpool matches onwards. Here’s hoping for a good season, started by a good game!