Stoke City vs. Arsenal Preview
Premier League – Saturday 19th August 2017 – Bet 365 Stadium
The game vs. Leicester was a highlight for us, and for the first Premier League weekend. Our rivals had equally good results (bar Chelsea and Liverpool), and with Sp*rs and Chelsea playing each other it could be opportune to get a win at Stoke.
Much is said of our bad record there, even though we beat them quite comfortably in 16/17. However, Stoke aren’t in good shape at the moment. They lost to Rooney/Everton last week, Mark Hughes is under pressure, and they have not made many improvements in the window thus far. Moreover, they’re not as “hard” a team as they used to be, and they may even be in relegation contention this season.
It still won’t be easy. They see games vs. us, at their place, as big events in their footballing calendar. Stemming from the early 70s FA Cup semis, Wenger’s “rugby” comments, and even Ramsey’s horrendous injury, both fans and players alike are up for it. Moreover, they need a win to get their season on track. And how better than one vs. us, their “enemy”?
So we know it won’t be easy. But we have more than enough to beat them.
Ramsey’s horrific injury several years ago could fire him up to play well, and we need this to counter their physical approach. They will try to rough us up, considering they do need the win as much we do. Xhaka/Ramsey could be an effective combination here.
Giroud or Lacazette?
I’m tempted to think Wenger should play both of them. Giroud is good for his aerial threat, though Lacazette is equally as good in the air. Both could do well in countering Stoke’s defence, or providing cover at the back if needed on set pieces.
I believe dropping either may not be advisable, considering both are in good form. It would also tax the Stoke defence, with two strikers to handle over one.
Iwobi/Welbz over Ozil
Wenger needs to develop the gumption to drop Ozil. No player should have a default starting place. I like Ozil; he has evident quality, though his style clearly doesn’t meld with our own, in that he is self-admittedly languid. To counter Stoke’s defence, we need a more mobile creative presence, which Welbz and/or Iwobi would bring.
Ox over Bellerin
Both are good going forward, though Ox has a better cross/final ball. With Lacazette and Giroud, we need good deliveries to maximise this.
Mustafi and Holding at the back
Retaining Monreal at the back is fine, though Mustafi needs to come back. He’s had enough time to recover now, and for his own sake (re: Russia World Cup) he needs as much good game time as possible, and to prove he can cut it consistently in the Premier League.
Can we have a clean sheet this week, please, Arsenal? Cech? Please (with sugar on top)? We concede too many goals, and Spurs, Man United, and City all kept clean sheets last week. Like last season, goal difference could be crucial in who finishes where.
My team below:
Stoke City 0-2 Arsenal
(A win AND a clean sheet please, Arsenal????)
If we ensure we possess a strong mentality, and Wenger can copy his perfect game management as per the Leicester game (in making the requisite tactical changes to win it), then we can win again.