By Billy “the Dog” McGraw
Stoke is an ancient parish somewhere to the north, in rugby playing land. The name Stoke means “place” which more or less is right.
But even a “place” can have a motto and Stoke’s is Vis Unita Fortior meaning United Strength is Stronger – which is the origins of the way in which they play football.
Stoke has always been aggressive in its policies towards other areas, as for example when, at the moment Arsenal were focussed on starting the longest run in the First Division in the history of football, Stoke invaded and attempted to annexe Newcastle-under-Lyme plus Wolstanton. Newcastle Corporation however fought back and the Battle of the Little and Big Pots took place. This fight was one of the longest in British history, and continued to 1930 when Stoke took the matter to the House of Comics and set out the Stoke-on-Trent Extension Bill. However Newcastle retaliated and took of Wolstanton itself in 1932.
Meanwhile Stoke-on-Trent applied for city status claiming it was important. The Home Office told it where to go. Stoke then went to King George V and after seeing the ferocity of the locals he caved in. However in 1974 Staffordshire invaded and it is now known as NUTS3. (Honest, that is not made up. Type “Nuts of the United Kingdom” into Google if you don’t believe me).
Since the 17th century, the area has been almost exclusively known for its industrial-scale rugby tackles.
If we contemplate the league table we see that both sides have let in 29 goals this season, but Arsenal have scored 48 and Stoke have scored 24.
|9||(9)||West Bromwich Albion||24||10||4||10||34||34||0||34|
Interestingly there have been 50 goals at the Ems this season, the most in the Premier League. But Stoke have drawn five games 0-0, more than any other Premier League side this season. The Rugby men have won just one of their last 21 Premier League away games and have conceded 15 goals in their last five Premier League games. And the last meaningless stat: Arsenal have the most effective offside trap in the division, catching out an opponent 85 times thus far
Since Giroud has scored five in the last three games you can either a) expect that to be all over and he will be useless tomorrow, or b) he will score two.
At this moment it is a bit uncertain who the team will be but here is a suggestion:
Bacary Sagna; Per Mertesacker; Laurent Koscielny; Nacho Monreal
Aaron Ramsey; Jack Wilshere
Theo Walcott; Olivier Giroud; Lukas Podolski
- Vito Mannone
- Carl Jenkinson
- Andre Santos
- Abou Diaby
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
- Tomas Rosicky
- Mikel Arteta
But contemplate if you will the possibilities of alternative patterns.
Santos could play again in the defence, for the simple reason that Monreal will hardly have had time to get the hang of how Arsenal play, and has had all the disruption of moving into a hotel. Also I have no idea if he speaks English, but I rather doubt it – and that means no direct communication from anyone other than Santi Cazorla.
Abou Diaby was on the bench for the Liverpool game, and I wonder if he would be risked against Stoke’s style of play. If the boss doesn’t think it is a risk, then he could be in. As could be Mike Arteta who is said to be ok again. Either of these two might replace Ramsey.
Tomas Rosicky is really a replacement for Cazorla, and is only likely to be there if Cazorla is now knackered from playing every game.
As for the front three, they look to be our best bet, so I wouldn’t change them, until we are 4-0 up with 30 minutes to go and Alex OC could pop on for a little run around.
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