Ten yellow and one red card from four games for Arsenal - Will Stoke get under their skin?

Arsenal are strong favourites to beat Stoke City but there is one area they are vulnerable.

Mark Hughes would have spent the majority of this week working out exactly how he is going to affect Arsenal, trip them up and generally do anything to stop his side getting walloped at the Emirates on Sunday.

Arsenal are strong in so many areas that managers are often forced to think outside the box, with less conventional tactics to try and get an advantage against them.

The common association with this Stoke side is that they are physical, predictable and overly aggressive and their best tactic for this match could be simply to play to all of those things.

Stoke are never going to out pass Arsenal or out number them in terms of chances but they can use their typical style of play to get beneath the skin of the Gunners.

Arsenal have one of the worst disciplinary records in the Premier League this season having seen players pick up ten yellow cards and one red card to date.

That’s nearly twice as many collective bookings as Stoke (six yellow cards) and it’s something that Hughes and Arsene Wenger should both be paying close attention to.

The idea for Hughes will be simple; rough Arsenal up, be physical and hope for a reaction from their players which could result in bookings, a sending off and subsequently a numerical advantage.

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It’s a fairly underhand way to go about a football match but it’s something that Stoke are well suited to doing and it’s more than likely already been discussed this week.

Wenger can urge Arsenal to combat such tactics stressing discipline, togetherness and a continuation of the team spirit which we have so far seen from the club in abundance this season.

Wenger can also approach his more senior players like Per Mertesacker, urging them to calm down tempers if Stoke try to make the game physical.

It could easily boil over with emotion considering the history that Aaron Ramsey in particular has against Stoke.

If the senior players spot signs of players getting annoyed, angry or wound up, they can get in their ear, calming them down before a needless booking is produced and Stoke get what they want.

Arsenal just need to maintain their focus, discipline and go about their job efficiently.

images: © wonker, © Ronnie Macdonald, © Ronnie Macdonald

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