Arsenal travel away to the Britannia Stadium to face off against Stoke City in the Premier League on Sunday, as Arsene Wenger’s side, look to regain their top spot on the points table. The Gunners have been in good form in recent weeks though they will go into the game at the back of a hard fought 3-3 draw against Liverpool at Anfield in midweek. Every game is a must-win, as the battle for places is quite intense at the top and the north London side will be expected to win their match once again. Manchester City already won their game 4-0 against Crystal Palace, while Leicester City were held to a draw by strugglers Aston Villa.
The French manager’s side will be keen to secure all three points on their travel, as they look to win the league title this season. Wenger knows that his side has to be on top of their game, as they get set to face off against Barcelona in the Champions League as well. Stoke have really improved since Mark Hughes took over as manager and with the addition of some quality players in the summer transfer window. It will surely not be an easy game, as the Potters will look to put in a resilient performance at home once again.
For the visitors, there are still six players out injured and will miss the game. Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Alexis Sanchez, Tomas Rosicky, Danny Welbeck and Francis Coquelin will not be available for selection, as they recover from their respective problems. Some of these big stars will return to action soon though for now Wenger will have to manage without them.
On the other hand, the hosts will be without seven players themselves. Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic, who have been key players for Hughes this term, could be missing though the latter could still be fit on time for selection. Apart from that, Marc Muniesa, Shay Given, Stephen Ireland, Geoff Cameron and Philip Bradsley could be absent from the Stoke starting eleven. Ireland, Cameron and Bradsley could possibly make it on time to find a place in the squad, if they do manage to recover.
Butland; Johnson, Pieters, Shawcross, Wollscheid; Whelan, Afellay, Bojan, Walters, Arnautovic; Crouch.
Cech; Monreal, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Bellerin; Flamini, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Campbell; Giroud.
Key players to look out for:
3. Mesut Ozil:
The former Real Madrid man is having a superb season though he could make a major impact in the game against Liverpool. The German World Cup
winner was part of the Arsenal attack on most occasions, yet failed to find that perfect pass to set up a teammate for a goal scoring opportunity.
He will surely be one key star to watch out for on Sunday.
2. Petr Crouch:
The former England international could be deployed from the start to trouble the Arsenal back-line with his height and built. The Gunners are not well known to be strong defending aerial balls and the home side might look to exploit that weakness in the match. It will be interesting to see how Crouch performs in the game though if he does indeed start.
1. Olivier Giroud:
The Frenchman scored a brace against the Merseyside club on Wednesday night and will surely pose a threat once again for the Stoke defence, who will have to keep him quiet. Giroud was strong against the Reds and scored a magnificent second goal in the game, with a really composed finish.