Stoke Evil v Arsenal. Match preview

By Phil Gregory

Arsenal travel up to Stoke on Sunday, ready for a game that has been one of our more controversial matches in recent years. Their “robust” approach to the game irritated many Arsenal fans prior to Shawcross snapping Ramsey’s leg, so the atmosphere promises to be testy. Indeed, the temperature will be ratcheted up just a little more by the knowledge that Ramsey is very likely to start the game in lieu of Fabregas.

Onto injuries then. In addition to Fabregas, Nasri has been ruled out of the tie with hamstring trouble, while Diaby is sidelined with a calf injury. Doubts surround the fitness of Clichy and Djourou, though the latter is looking likely to be available with the main concern centering on Clichy.

On a positive note Thomas Vermaelen may be in the squad though his chances of starting probably rest of Djourou’s fitness. While that would certainly be speedy return to first team action for Thomas, Wenger stated that due to the nature of his injury, he isn’t rusty or restricted in his movement.

Onto the line-up then:


Sagna Djourou Koscielny Gibbs

Song Wilshere


Walcott Van Persie Arshavin

Szcznesy continues in goal, with the only likely change to the back four being Gibbs’ replacement of Clichy if the Frenchman doesn’t pass his fitness test. In front of the back four are Song and Wilshere, with Ramsey coming in for Fabregas. Further forward, Arshavin replaces the injured Nasri on the left, with Walcott on the opposite flank and Van Persie playing through the middle.

Despite a fictional reputation for “not liking it up us” (pundit speak for losing when playing teams who happily kick the man and not the player), we’ve won the last four Premier League meetings against Stoke. Admittedly the recent home game was a bit of a nail biter, but that is an excellent record to have going into the tie.

Obviously the big talking point for this game is Stoke’s FA Cup appearance six days later. Some have speculated that that may mean they rest players versus Arsenal, but with the best part of a week to go until that tie it seems unlikely. Perhaps certain players may have that tie on their mind when going in for challenges, aware that any sending off would rule them out of the final.

If I’m honest though, I can’t imagine an uncommitted performance from Stoke and just hope the referee doesn’t go easy with the cards, thinking he doesn’t want to have to make a Stoke player miss the match of their lives.

Tactically, we know what to expect from Stoke really. They’ll look to bypass the midfield and win the knockdowns, so the key is pressing the back four. Giving them less time to play their pass forward means they’re likely to end up hitting and hoping, allowing our intelligent defenders loose balls to intercept rather than aerial challenges to contend.

Moreover, if we press well enough the Stoke players mightn’t have that forward option available, and anything that gets Stoke playing the ball at the back gives us a great chance to steal it and make a chance. Pressing is key here.

They also like their wingers, though Etherington is out and faces a race to be fit for the FA Cup final. They don’t get forward much from fullback, so our wide attackers plus fullbacks should be able to cope with Stoke’s wider players. Vigilance from the centre backs will be vital with the likes of Jones and Carew – who may return from injury for this game – are more than capable in the air.

Stoke should be a side that we see off without too much difficulty but a couple of absentees means things may be a little trickier than we imagine. 2-1 to the Arsenal for my money.

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27 Replies to “Stoke Evil v Arsenal. Match preview”

  1. What’s up with Rosicky? Last time I heard, he was ill but then no news about him.No mention of him in both the interviews that Arsene gave prior to this Stoke City match.

  2. Phil, you make an extremely valid point about the possible reluctance of the ref. to redcard a Stoke player in advance of next weekend’s FAC Final. Bearing in mind the likely thuggery by Shawcross and Co, I hope the ref will be strong and unbiased.
    Otherwise, I can foresee trouble between the two midfields due to payback time. Hope I’m wrong.

  3. Sorry, off topic but happy St Totts day to one and all – ok it was all but St Totts last weekend I know.
    He may be a Spud but hope Bales injury is nothing too horrendous

  4. Sorry nicky, but the ref is the dreaded Mark Halsey. Just abandon all hope for a strong and unbiased performance!

  5. With Stoke comfortably in mid-table and a Cup final coming up I don’t think they’ll be quite as pumped up to kick and maim foreign Arsenal limbs as they usually would be. But the disgusting Stoke fans will certainly be pumped, and will be urging their team to do us physical damage. It’s critical we start well, score early, and shut up their neanderthal support.

  6. sTOKE ARE VERY STRONG SECOND HALF, but always start so slow so we need to catch them cold. I know it is only gossip but there seems there may be a big clear out at the end of the year.

    An arsenal side well rested and buoyed be a victory over man u should be ok against stoke, if memory serves me right every time we have played them away it was always two games in a week situation.

    on the Rosicky subject there was a few murmurs of him fixing matches about the same time he played his last game for arsenal.

    ATM I am torturing myself because there is still hope, if the man vs chelsea game is a draw both sides have difficult games, man u has to play blackpool last game of the season and will be fighting for their lives while man u will have one eye on champions league and they have blackburn away. chelsea have everton away very difficult game . would it be Wengers greatest triumph??

    we are due to smash someone would love to see 5 or more goals past stoke and a player sent off, hopefully the refs like everyone else will think we are out of it and play a fair game

  7. Just a wild guess but maybe Wenger would/could consider playing Vermaelen at left back?
    He has played there for Ajax and Belgium. In fact the last games he played at left back for Belgium because the manager of the national team has a soft spot for Van Buyten.
    By adding Vermaelen this could mean that we have a stronger player in the air than Clichy or Gibbs.

  8. And because being away from TV and internet I didn’t know until now: Thanks Mandy for making our day!!!!! 🙂

  9. Gooneroz, thanks mate I just went to throw up my last meal after clicking on your link … What a bunch of sick people over there…
    I wonder how those seemingly normal supporters would feel being surrounded but such a bunch of lunatics

  10. St. Totteringham’s Day is NEVER off-topic. And there’s only one good reason to play Vermaelen: As insurance. If any of the Stokunts so much as lays a finger on Ramsey, Vermaelen should break that player’s neck.

    Am I exaggerating? I’m not sure.

  11. Not a bad suggestion there Walter, I didn’t think of Vermaelen at left back. It’d certainly be a surprise! COuld work, gets us a little bit more height into the backline and he’s capable of getting forward, only concern zould be his pace for getting back. Should be interesting!

  12. Szcznesy

    sagna djourou vermealen eboue

    ramsey wilshere

    walcott arshavin

    rvp the linup is not very straight but sorry about that 3-0 the arsenal hattrick rvp

  13. Agree with Gooner80 that stoke normally start slow. Even in our last game, we were creating black holes in their defence in the first 15 min. In this game too we should rip them apart as early as possible. Put them on the back foot and score early goals to lessen the tension.

  14. Vermaelen at left back? Well, why not? If he`s represented his country and Ajax in that position he can certainly handle it and his general experience would probably make him a better bet than Gibbs right now. I`m sure Arsene would have considered this…….or would he?

  15. After this game we may be calling Ramsey the EXORCIST, because a few demons may be exorcised today.

    I heard Bale was in a Horror tackle, I dont wish that on anyone, there is a lot wrong in spain but they know how to protect skillful players. As far as I am concerned football has to decide what kind of sport it wants to be, does it want to be like a form of rugby or be the beautiful game. if they want mass audiences they better choose the latter. people like wenger and advocates of the beautiful game have to do everything they can to prove to anti football that their tactics dont work, so they either evolve or die out, but beautiful football does need preferential treatment, Im from the george graham era but wenger has shown you can win with attractive football, nothing else matters more then to cause football to evolve

  16. Hmmm-Not looking too good at half time. But of course we don’t have any defensive problems do we? Set pieces in the air/ No no reason at all to buy defenders is there? Stoke City – we are playing Stoke City.

  17. Poor poor performance. One of the most disappointing performances of this year. Today’s game jus showed why we need Fabregas.

  18. this was a horrible match, nver seen Arsenal that poor. Who els in the PL has ever been outplayed by stoke? thats a weir feeling…

  19. Bolton has been outplayed by stoke…. 5 – 0.
    But yeah, we sucked today. B Team needs more games, they’re rusty as hell. And major defensive coaching is needed, Djourou seems to be a bit compacent of late. Might need Tommy V next to him to shake him into shape.

  20. why is there a guy dressed like Dr Who at the top of the page?

    Arsenal awful today. that long throw second half was absolute comedy but otherwise nothing to cheer. Wilshere lucky to stay on the pitch, as was Song.

    Stoke looked really good going forward & I wish we played like them – quickly shift the ball to the front 4 and put the opposition under pressure.

    oh well roll on transfer window & 5 or 6 big players. think next year is make or break for Wenger

  21. As much as this season has been the most painful, as Chelski and Man ure are the weakest they have been for a number of years, and the growing unrest regarding Wenger, today, without a shadow of a doubt, showed the players are as weak in the mind as in the body. I believe this is down to the captian above all others. Cesc is the route of of yellow spines. This summer, if Wenger doesn’t sell (or give awway) Cesc, Denilson, Diaby, Clichy, Almunia, Rosicky and Chamakh, then we have Bob Hope of ever winning anything. I want Bouldy to come in for Rice, and get in some players with balls, that actually want to play for Arsenal. Baines? Cahill? Hazard?

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