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Arsenal v Stoke, the facts, stats, and the result before it even happens

Arsenal vs. Stoke preview

On Saturday, Arsenal play host to Stoke City on a day that marks the 100 year anniversary of the first ever North London derby!

Pulis is marking himself to be a bit of an Allardyce in terms of management approach: he makes no apologies for his side’s style of play, and manages consistently to outperform expectations given his resources.

Keeping Stoke up last season was an achievement (including three points taken from us Gunners at the Britannia) and this season Stoke are hovering in the top half, way ahead of the likes of West Ham, Blackburn and Everton.

Recent form:

Arsenal are amusingly said to be in the midst of a crisis by the media, but I’m sure we all know that to be an exaggeration. While a 1-0 loss to Sunderland and a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea (disappointing, but the score line was flattering to them) is not exactly the most inspiring form, if anyone can turn it around, it’s the Arsenal.

Without a goal since Van Persie’s injury on international duty, we need to return to our free scoring form and hopefully Stoke’s Sorensen will be picking the ball out of his net at least once.

Stoke City are a side who last season, stayed up on the back of some sensational form in front of their own fans, but performed poorly away. This season that form has continued, with a succession of draws and just a single win against Tottenham (but we all know they aren’t too hard to come by).

Their away fixtures have been fairly kind, too: Liverpool, Birmingham, Bolton, Tottenham, Pompey, Hull, Wolves and Blackburn, yet yielding no wins. That said, the Potters have lost none of their last seven games, and so Arsenal could still have their work cut out for them.

Injuries:

Long-term absentees Djourou and Van Persie are out for the majority of the season, while Gibbs (foot), Clichy (back), Diaby (Calf) and Bendtner (hernia) are all definite absentees for Saturday’s game. Theo Walcott, our latest glass forward, has a slight muscle strain and will miss the Emirates clash, while Sagna took a knock against Chelsea but is expected to be fit. Alex Song is suspended after picking up a yellow against Manchester City on Wednesday, and with Liverpool away coming up after Stoke, I’ll let you make your own mind up on whether that was intentional or not!

Stoke are without England hopeful Shawcross, while Faye’s back injury is certain to keep him out of the game. The impressive Dean Whitehead is out of the game, after collecting his fifth booking of the season.

Key men:

On Saturday, I will have my eye on the performance of Arsenal’s Eduardo Da Silva. From his impressive showing in Euro 2008 qualifying with Croatia to his classy goals in the cups for us on his return last season, there is much, much more to come from the Brazilian-born striker. Hopefully he will grow into the role, but in the meantime, the midfield need to be doing more to alleviate the goalscoring burden.

Denilson and Fabregas have both showcased an ability to score excellent goals, the former twice already this season and the latter most memorably at the San Siro two seasons ago.

For Stoke, impressive left winger Etherington will be looking to impress onlookers down our right hand side. The winger, previously of West Ham, was bought last January to offer Stoke another dimension to their play and many have tipped him to claim a berth in England’s World Cup squad. Stoke haven’t got a goalscorer to mark out as a credible threat on the basis of this season’s form, but Beattie fired them to safety in the latter part of last season, and Jamaican international Fuller is always a handful.

Arsenal predicted line-up:

Almunia

Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Traore

Ramsey

Fabregas Denilson

Nasri Eduardo Arshavin

Subs: Fabianksi, Merida, Silvestre, Eboue, Rosicky, Wilshere, Vela

The back five pretty much picks itself, with Traore apparently 3rd choice leftback now. Wenger stated that Silvestre wasn’t really an option in a press conference last week, so it’s out of Traore and Eboue for the slot.

From my view in the stands at City, Traore got taken to the cleaners by Wright-Phillips on numerous occasions, and because of this, we could well see Eboue fill in at leftback. Perhaps. I’m unsure on which I would prefer – if we drop Traore, we destroy his confidence when we may yet need to call on him, so it is a tricky one.

Ramsey will take over in the holding role as he did for Wolves away (so I’m told – I didn’t get much chance to see the match on that day, only the odd glance at screen in a Parisian hostel!). Perhaps Denilson will hold, and Ramsey will be placed a little further forward: you never know.

The front three seems unlikely to include Rosicky after he played 90 minutes for the Carling Cup side. I feel we should persevere with Eduardo in the central role: remember it took Van Persie time to learn the role (his first goal came against City I think). We know Eduardo has the class to cut it in this team, and if Wenger didn’t think he could deputise adequately for Robin then he would have purchased. Eduardo – over to you.

Prediction:

Stoke’s away form has been poor, but they have shown a certain resilience whenever they’ve played. Bear in mind this is a Stoke City side a mere five points behind ourselves, and who have conceded three less goals in the league than us. However, with only four goals scored away from home, even Arsenal’s defensive shakes shouldn’t undermine our quest to return to winning ways. There’s no reason we can’t beat them, so I’m going to go for 2-0 to the Arsenal, though I won’t be surprised if we grab another one or two.

Halftime musing:

Tony Pulis has made himself to look a little foolish in the wake of “handshakegate”.  He commented that Wenger’s failure to shake hands with Hughes was undermining respect in the game, which had an impact right through to the grassroots. And what about respecting the rulebook, Tony, that tells Hughes to remain in his technical area? Is that less important than some unwritten etiquette? Apparently so.

Apologies and Adverts.

Both UNTOLD ARSENAL (where you are now) and MAKING THE ARSENAL (the blog about Arsenal 100 years ago) were down for a while Thursday night and Friday morning.  Apologies all round – a temp file on the server had a hiccup.   And all that on the centenary of our first game, first goal and first victory against the Tiny Totts.  You can read the background to that game and the historic significance of it on www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk And of course you can buy the book that tells the aftermath of the events of 100 years ago, also known as MAKING THE ARSENAL.   Visit Amazon.co.uk or click on the link you have just passed by.

Phil Gregory is a 20 year old student at the University of Leeds. Studying Economics and French, he’s been a Gunner since he got interested in football at a young age, and plans on being a regular at the Arsenal away games in the North this season.

Tony Attwood wrote “Making the Arsenal” which is why it is always publicised here, and Billy the Dog is down the pub.

(c) UNTOLD ARSENAL 2009.

17 comments to Arsenal v Stoke, the facts, stats, and the result before it even happens

  • Tim

    I predict that you will call Mark Clatenburg a corrupt referee on Sunday.

  • Anonymous Gooner

    I think Arsene might stick Silvestre @ LB. Experienced, did well @ City and nobody in Stoke to terrorise him with pace. An extra option for defending those high balls. He might also play Eboue on the left as cover for Silvestre.

  • Cujo

    @Tim: Aren’t they all?? LOL

  • Tell you what – for someone who is so involved in the history of Arsenal I have missed a key point. It is the Lord’s 500th game in charge of Arsenal.

    As the man himself said

    “On Saturday I am managing my 500th game at Arsenal and I believe I have shaken hands 497 times.

    “It is a ceremonial courtesy but the most important is not the ceremonial but the courtesy of behaviour.”

    Absolutely. A brilliant statement.

  • tim

    wenger is my hero.

  • Aaditya

    Are we going to see a return of “All tomorrow’s parties”?

  • Marc

    Hi Tony, Sorry to go off topic but have you heard about ManU dropping their option to buy Ljajic for £9 million. According to the gossip it is because of a lack of funds. The Times also is running a piece about the Glazers struggling to refinance some of the debt ManU have. I know you have to take paper talk with a pinch of salt but you have been running articles on this subject for some time now. Maybe ManU’s chickens are finally coming home to roost. The next 12 – 18 months could be quite interesting.

  • The Law

    Apologies Tony, for an off topic comment, but have you seen the article in the Times where Mark Hughes says he “loves” the Lord Wenger?

  • walter

    Phil, spot on with the prediction.
    Clattenburg was not that good. 😉

  • Phil Gregory

    Solid result, hopefully a bit of a boost before Liverpool away. Rest the first team in Europe and lets have Arshavin getting another four at Anfield!

    Next article from me will be the Anfield game, see you all for it!

  • Gerald

    2-0 it is. The good times are back!

  • walter

    I bet that from tomorrow a few blogs will start moaning that we only won 2-0.
    I have seen som defensive teams at the Emirates the past 100 games but the way Stoke played for 90 minutes was the most defensive performance in those 100 I think.
    We could and should have scored a few more (in the first 10 minutes) and made it easier on ourselves but this games was only about winning and not about dishing up a nice game, which is impossible against a team like Stoke unless you take the early chances.

    BTW Joe as you clearly are in love withi this site, Chelsea lost so the 3 points we lost last week are regained. That’s good news for us, not for you.

  • Simon Bailey

    a hard fought win and well deserved. stoke were guilty of playing anti-football, and their sentance was 2-0, and 0 points. they might as well have gone for it.

    the three man frontline could be the solution till rvp comes back, and with a bit more practise, i am sure it will be perfect.

  • stuartlondon

    A rainy day but had warm glow inside all the way home from the match! I seem to remember that early in the season someone suggested on this site that we play AA in central stiker role. Hmmm …who was it now? Stu

  • walter

    And just to remind some of the moaners out there: today almost the same team that beat our youngsters beat Chelsea. Jut to give you some perspective

  • Cape Gooner

    @Walter 10:46. Yes, but the result could have been anything. 3-1 either way was as likely as anything else. The match was between some very good players, played at a high tempo. However, both de Jong and Essien had great games at DM, so there was less goalmouth action that might have been hoped for.

    All three goals were pathetic. The first was for Chelsea. From our camera angle and the replay, it was clearly a goal kick. However, a corner was awarded. Adebayor needs training if he is to be allowed to defend. After Given saved the first attempt, the defence advanced – sorry, most of the defence advanced. Adebayor moved far enough off the line to be in the perfect position to allow the comedy to unfold. Anelka fired in a shot; Given parried it away from the danger area onto the back of Adebayor, and from there into the net.

    However, the comedy had only just started. Man City was awarded a corner. It was floated harmlessly towards Cech. Drogba had other ideas. He challenged Cech for the ball. Instead of an easy catch, Cech did well to punch the ball out of the area. Bang, SWP hits the ball goalward. Richards, having learnt a lesson from Eboue, tried to get out of the way, while instinctively raising his arms for protection. Bang, the ball hits his arm, raised towards his face, but very close to his body. Handball says Chelsea amongst a forest of raised arms. No way says Webb. In the meanwhile the ball is directed towards Adebayor, hitting him on the leg or the foot. At a pedestrian pace, the ball moves goalwards, hitting Terry on the leg, and rebounding back towards Adebayor. Now at last, some football! Adebayor swings his chocolate leg and beats Cech at the near post! What a goal! What football! See what money can buy!

    The third goal was a little like the third goal last week. However, while Drogba’s shot was well hit and directed towards the corner of the goal, Tevez’s shot was closer to the centre of the goal than the post.

    In spite of the comedy, there were a few talking points. For the penalty that Given saved, he moved well before the ball was struck and moved a couple of yards forward. Surely a linesman can inform the referee about this? Secondly, compare the marking of Walcott last week to SWP this week. Walcott had Lampard all over him, all the time, giving Chelsea 2 on 1. SWP was left to Cole to handle. As Arsenal fans, should we have expected such a discrepancy in tactics? I take it as a great compliment to Walcott.

    Ancelotti’s substitutions were very interesting. He was behind and in the 64th minute brought on Belletti at right back, Carvalho going off, and Mikel, replacing Ballack and allowing Essien to get further forward. Note the difference with AW who last week, took off Song at half time and replaced him with a forward.