Arsenal vs Stoke City preview: Welcome back, “A-Team”. Plus favourite line-up
Written by Chris on February 22, 2011 21:30
There was a lot going on after last Sunday’s one all draw against Leyton Orient in the F.A. Cup but luckily, we can forget about yet another disappointing performance from our second string players and focus on tomorrow as we host Stoke City at the Emirates.
In all fairness, it would be harsh to accuse every single element of last Sunday’s game of not deserving to be a regular in the side as I believe Tomas Rosicky, Sebastien Squillaci, Kieran Gibbs and – if he means business – Nicklas Bendtner can all be a valuable asset to the team. Tomas has been criticised, and heavily by some, but some perspective is needed here as let’s not forget that the Czech is playing alongside the likes of Denilson and Marouane Chamakh and believe me, it’s not easy to show how good you are when you’re surrounded by average players.
Make no mistake, I will never forget what the Moroccan did for us at the start of the season. I mean come on, he’s the reason why we’re only four points from leaders Manchester United so no matter how poor he will be from now until the end of the season, I will be eternally grateful to him. But, at the same time, it is clear there is a problem going on which is either fatigue, pressure or simply, as Arsene called it, a “recent dip”. Whatever it is, he’s not performing at all.
As for Denilson, oh well, with the return of Aaron Ramsey and the recovery of Emmanuel Frimpong in the summer, I doubt he will be on the bench next season. I think he’s the only Arsenal player who given plenty of chances always failed to improve, I’d say he’s going backwards and backwards. Shame.
But on to the game. Stoke City will not be easy to battle past as we all know how strong and determined they are when they pay a visit to the Emirates, especially this time, as they will want to prove a point after Arsene’s unnecessary rugby comment in September. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand this is the side against which Aaron suffered his horrible injury, the side always taking advantage of Delap’s long throw-ins, but sometimes, it would be wise to leave the talking to the pitch.
Robin and Laurent are injured and will not feature but we welcome back the likes of Cesc, Jack and Samir, who I’m more than sure will show our bench how it should be done. Again, it will not be easy but considering the quality we will have out there, I’m more than sure we will get all three points at the end of the day.
As always, my favourite line-up is below. Remember you can submit your own at Arsenal Interactive and then share it on Twitter and Facebook.
Up there I said Sebastien can be a valuable asset to the team. Why? Not long ago we discussed in the comments section how he almost always does well when playing alongside Johan and I’m sure tomorrow these two will be under pressure so it’s Sebastien opportunity to indeed show that in case of emergency we can cope at the back.
The other absent of the game is Robin and he will be missed of course with Nicklas Bendtner, in my opinion, the best player to replace him as a lonely striker in our offensive department.
The rest is pretty much straight forward, hoping that Alex Song’s disappointing game on Sunday was just a one-off and not the result of fatigue for which he would need to be rested for a week or two. That would be “tragic”, considering Abou is yet to recover from a calf injury.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger explained how keeping the ball is imperative tomorrow. The Frenchman added that his players are fully focused on the job as they know that a win tomorrow would see go only one point from the top of the table.
What is important for us against Stoke is we [make sure] we have the ball. The more we have the ball, the less they will be dangerous in the air.
We will try to dominate the game, as long as we have the ball they cannot be dangerous.
We know we are in a strong position in the Premier League, the players know that at home our results will have a vital importance on our chances of winning the Premier League. The focus will be natural, this team wants to win every single game.
Stoke City boss Tony Pulis confessed he was at the Emirates when the Gunners battled past Barcelona as he honestly admitted that his side is not on the same level of Arsenal.
I went to their game with Barcelona, and it was a fantastic game. For all of Barcelona’s dominance, and they were very dominant at times, Arsenal still had very good chances. Robin van Persie could have scored a hat-trick.
Arsenal will be delighted to be 2-1 ahead and heading out for the return with a great opportunity of going through. It means the second game will be a great one.
But in watching that game I can say we’re not on their level, I think everybody accepts that. So we just have to go there and do our best, and that’s what we’ll do.
We have to be switched on. It’s a game we know will be very, very difficult, even if we play at our best. If we don’t, then we’re in trouble.
The Gunning Hawk Coverage
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And of course, don’t forget you’re still in time to pick your preferred team for this game. And when the final whistle blows, don’t forget to rate the players, comment on their performances and share your personal ratings with your friends. All this and more, available at http://www.arsenal-interactive.com.