Stoke City v Arsenal - Match Preview, Stats & Team News

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

Odds: Stoke City 5/1, Draw 3/1, Arsenal 4/6

Last season: 0-0

Preview & injury news

Every game seems to be a big one at this stage of the season as both sides could do with a win for very different reasons. Stoke could do with it to give themselves some breathing space this weekend as they currently sit three points above the relegation zone, and they will want to take the opportunity to open up a gap given that Sunderland - who occupy 18th place - aren't playing in the Premier League this weekend due to their participation in the League Cup final. The Potters aren't in the best of form having only won once in their last ten league games.

For Arsenal, they are about to enter another period of difficult fixtures which could potentially define their season so they can't afford any slip-ups this weekend. The Gunners have won seven out of their last ten league games including a comfortable 4-1 over Sunderland last time out which leaves them second in the table, a point behind leaders Chelsea.

On the injury front, defender Robert Huth could return for Stoke for this weekend's clash after a fairly lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury whilst winger Oussama Assaidi is ruled out because of a knee injury, himself.

For Arsenal, they are set to welcome back Mesut Ozil into the side. He has come in for some criticism lately for his performances and missed the win against Sunderland whilst Thomas Vermalen is back in the squad after a pretty lengthy calf problem. There's concerns over the left-back position with both Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal doubtful, but Laurent Koscielny could be available - as could midfielder Jack Wilshere who has had a concern over a hamstring injury. Aaron Ramsey isn't expected back until the North London derby with Tottenham in two weeks time whilst Kim Kallstrom, Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby are all sidelined.

Key stats

Here are the two sides top scorers in the Premier League this season:

Olivier Giroud Arsenal FW 12 25 2,154
Aaron Ramsey Arsenal MF 8 18 1,495
Charlie Adam Stoke MF 6 25 1,583
Peter Crouch Stoke FW 6 24 1,864
Oussama Assaidi Stoke MF 3 16 995

Their average possession statistics:

NamePossession PercentagePlayed
Arsenal 56.81 27
Stoke City 44.93 27

And the amount of clean sheets they have kept this term:

NameClean SheetPlayed
Arsenal 12 27
Stoke City 6 27

5 players to watch

Robert Huth - The big German should be able to return after spending some time in the treatment room with a knee injury to partner Ryan Shawcross at the back, meaning it could be a difficult afternoon for the Gunners as Stoke try and combat their threat with their most physical centre-back pairing.

Mesut Ozil - Ozil has come in for some stinging criticism of late over his performances but having missed the win over Sunderland, he returns to the Arsenal side refreshed. Will the break have benefited him and will we see any notable improvements in the German's performance?

Charlie Adam - Adam has been one of Stoke's biggest goal threats this season which makes him the joint top scorer, and has a habit of scoring against the big sides at the Britannia Stadium, notably Liverpool and Manchester United. Another big side visits in Arsenal, so can he get on the scoresheet again?

Per Mertesacker - With Arsenal's defence looking a little depleted, Mertesacker is going to have to stand up and raise his game even further in what has been a terrific season for the popular centre-half so far. There's also the physical threat that Stoke possess, and a big game from Mertesacker could go a long way to dealing with that.

Peter Crouch - If Arsenal's defence is a little depleted, or not fully fit, Peter Crouch will be relishing the opportunity and is likely to cause problems. Can the big forward get a decisive goal for the home side as they look to pull away from the relegation zone?

Earlier on in the season

Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City, September 2013

A pretty comfortable victory that sent Arsenal to the top of the Premier League. Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring after he put in the rebound to Mesut Ozil's free kick. Geoff Cameron equalised for the visitors after Marko Arnautovic hit the post. Per Mertesacker restored the Gunners' lead after heading in Ozil's free-kick ten minutes before half-time, and Bacary Sagna did the same as the German centre-back when midway through the second half to conclude the scoring. 

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