The odds are stacked against Stoke City coming away from the Emirates with any points but they will put up a good fight as they always seem to do. They showed last week against Manchester City that they are no pushovers.
Arsenal will be full of confidence after winning six games in a row including a big win away at Marseille in the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger’s side will believe they have enough quality to get past the Potters despite a number of injuries that have left the squad quite thin. It will be Mesut Özil’s first game at his new home and fans will be expecting him to put on a good show.
Odds: Arsenal 4/19, Draw 4/1, Stoke City 19/2
Arsenal 1 – Stoke City – 2nd February 2013, Emirates Stadium
A poor game was eventually won by a deflected Lukas Podolski free kick with less than 20 minutes left in the game. The visitors had frustrated the Gunners for over 70 minutes and it looked as if it would peter out for a draw but the Podolski struck and gave Arsenal a vital 3 points in the race for 4th place.
Five players to watch on Sunday:
Arsenal’s record signing will have his first taste of football at the Emirates in the famous red and white. Playing Stoke will be the perfect start for him because the home side will have a lot of the ball and Özil will thrive on that and look to create chances for his teammates. One of the more eagerly anticipated Arsenal home games in recent times and fans will be expectant of an impressive display.
Playing Stoke City will always be full of mixed emotions for Ramsey, it was against the Potters that he suffered his horrific broken leg three and half years ago. Not to mention he is in the form of his life at the moment, he has already scored six goals so far this season including the winner against Marseille on Wednesday night. Arsenal will be relying on him to help the team take the three points and stay close to the summit of the Premier League table.
Since rejoining Arsenal, Flamini has provided an extra bit of bite and steel into the midfield. He loves nothing more than putting a tackle or two in and this is the perfect game for him. Stoke will always look to put a physical presence on the field and Flamini looks to the man to combat this for Arsenal. He will free up the likes of Ramsey, Özil and Wilshere to play their own games.
The Stoke captain is likely to get a hostile reception for the Arsenal fans after his tackle broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg back in 2010. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the reception, Stoke manager Mark Hughes will hope that it doesn’t affect his defending too much because he will be doing a lot of it on Sunday afternoon.
The Austrian striker made his debut last week in Stoke’s 0-0 draw against Manchester City. He will he looking to get his first goal for his new club and it wouldn’t be a bad time to get it. One of the problem’s Stoke have had over the past few seasons has been scoring and Hughes will be looking for him to get off the mark quickly this season and get on a roll.
image: © wonker