Predicted Arsenal XI to play Stoke City - Vermaelen to get rare start?

Match to be played on Saturday 1st March 2014 at 15:00. Venue: Britannia Stadium, Stoke.

Arsenal go into this weekend’s game against Stoke City off the back of a positive result against Sunderland.

The Gunners have had a chance to rest this week and recover as they prepare to try and topple Chelsea at the top of the Premier League as well as planning for the second leg Champions League game against Bayern Munich.

Arsene Wenger confirmed this morning he has a couple of selection problems ahead of the weekend but he should still be able to name a strong side. Here’s the team he might go with.

GK – Wojciech Szczesny

The Pole should keep his place in goal. He’s proving to be one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Premier League so far this season.

RB – Bacary Sagna

Speculation over Sagna’s future rolls on as the Gunners try to get him tied won on a new deal. He’ll be focused on his defensive job in this game.

CB – Per Mertesacker

The big German should relish this match because he’s going up against a very big and physical attacking side. He should be able to cope and stop the Arsenal defence from being bullied.

CB – Laurent Koscielny

The Frenchman has the pace to deal with Stoke’s quicker players, cutting in from wide positions.

LB – Thomas Vermaelen

With injury concerns to Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs, it could present Arsenal’s captain with a chance to step into the back four. He’s done a good job at left-back before.

RM – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The Ox has the pace to really hurt Stoke on the counter attack. It’s important for Wenger to try and get him back into the team because he’s been high on confidence lately.

DM – Mathieu Flamini

Flamini will sit and protect the back four. It’s important he gets stuck in if Stoke try and get on top of Arsenal physically.

CM – Jack Wilshere

If Wilshere has shaken off a hamstring problem then he should take his place in the centre of midfield. He’ll be the player who sets the tempo and urgency around Arsenal’s attacking play.

AM – Mesut Ozil

Fingers crossed for Arsenal fans that this is the match where Ozil rediscovers some of his best form. He should be fresh after being granted extra time off.

LM – Santi Cazorla

Cazorla offers control on the left when he’s forced to stay out wide and when he moves in centrally. He’ll have to remain disciplined as Vermaelen may not get forward as frequently as Monreal or Gibbs.

ST – Olivier Giroud

A brace last weekend will do the Frenchman’s confidence a world of good. He needs to harass and press the Stoke defence, getting right on top of them as well as holding the ball up effectively.

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