The Gunners arrive at the Brit on Saturday smarting from a 4-4 draw with Spurs at the Emirates on Wednesday. Stoke, in contrast, are going for their third consecutive home win and will be buoyed up after the solid 1-0 win over Sunderland on the same night. We’d expect Tony Pulis to keep to the normal game plan and not look and not look to change tactics which are making the Potters look very intimidating at the Brit.
Stoke’s new part time coach, Gerry Francis reckons that Arsenal will need to be on their guard in case another of the Premier League’s new boys turn them over.
He told the official site: ‘We know what Arsenal are all about. They are an exceptional side but on our day we know we can cause anybody problems.
Every game we have played we have had chances, and we went to Liverpool and got a point when nobody expected us too.
They will be fired up for the game after what happened to them last night, but we are buzzing and I believe we can get another victory.’
Stoke City Team News:
Tony Pulis will be able to field an unchanged starting eleven from Wednesday if he chooses. Liam Lawrence is still not yet fit after undergoing a successful operation to correct ligament damage after his dog tripping episode. Ryan Shawcross will be hoping to keep Sonko on the sidelines after an good performance against Spurs and Michael Tonge will also be hoping to have caught the manager’s eye after doing well when he came on for the final 20 minutes.
Player to watch: Salif Diao
Salif seems to be recreating the form that made him a favourite at the Brit when he arrived on loan from Liverpool two years ago. Last season was injury hit and he never really got into his stride, but in the last couple of games he’s started to command the midfield again and that is one asset we do need this season.
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger was reported to have been furious at the two goal lead they conceded within five minutes of the final whistle on Wednesday and this is rumoured to have resulted in a row between the players in the dressing room after the game.
They’re likely to be without skipper William Gallas. The defender is said to have a hamstring injury, while Emmanuel Eboue is also rated as doubtful for the match.
Player to watch: Theo Walcott
Walcott has come on leaps and bounds in the last 12 months and has justifiably fought his way into a regular position in the England squad.
Match Facts & Stats
This will be Arsenal’s first visit to the Brit and the Potters can claim a decent home record over the Gunners in the League: Stoke 15 wins, Arsenal 9, Draws 13.
Let’s hope that record improves on Saturday.
The dreaded Rob Styles will be on duty. He’s averaging nearly four yellow cards a game this season and his last outing was memorable for the sending off of Newcastle’s Habib Beye against Man City two weeks ago, only to have to rescind it after it was shown that Beye got the ball rather than Robinho.
Sat 8th November: Wigan (away) kick-off: 12.45pm