Stoke City v Arsenal – Preview

By Joe-Michael Wright (JMW5280)

It’s impossible to mention Stoke City away without recalling February 27, 2010.  It’s there and will always be there, hanging over this fixture.  That said, I can’t add anything to this topic that hasn’t already been said…so let’s move on to the present.

We all know what Stoke City are going to do.  They are going to defend and they are going to try to kick Arsenal off the pitch.  All of their attacks will come either through Crouch (he scares me) or one of Delap’s stupid throws.  One thing we won’t have to contend with is the rather square face of Dean Whitehead as he is suspended for being sent off vs Reading.  Stoke will probably be unchanged other than that, with likely either Wilson Palacios or the aforementioned Delap taking his place.
For the Arsenal, it sounds like both Koscielny and Oxlade-Chamberlain are fit and I expect Kos to start…where?  I’m not sure.  I would hope to see Gibbs-Vermaelen-Per-Kos but I wonder if Arsene will stick with Jenkison and slide Koscielny back into the middle.  I really want to see Per and Crouch match up on corners though.  All 14 feet and 75 lbs between them.
I expect the midfield to remain Arteta, Diaby and Cazorla…assuming Diaby doesn’t trip between now and then.  The midfield was ok to good in the first match.  Looked like a group that hadn’t played that much together but was still pretty steady.  Cazorla, obviously, stood out among these three and I think that will continue to be the case.  I like the base of Arteta and Diaby, again, given that Diaby can stay healthy.  Depending on how things are going, Ox will probably get a run out in the last 30 minutes and hopefully we can keep Ramsey on the bench.
In the forward three, Giroud should get the nod up top with Theo and Gervinho on the wings.  This line up could be devastating, lets hope they click sooner rather than later.  That leaves Arshavin, Podolski, Ramsey, Coquelin, Santos and I guess Djourou on the bench.  Pretty talented, flexible bench there.

As I said before, we all know how this game will likely go.  It’s going to be up to Arsenal to take one of the chances they create and not give up a bad goal because they somehow let the one guy that can hurt you (Crouch) get free.  I have a feeling we’ll be leading 1-0 in the dying minutes facing a Delap throw…and we’ll somehow scramble it away.  1-nil to the Arsenal.