The dreaded Britannia. For years this stadium has been a stain to Arsenal’s season, with the physicality and overwhelming atmosphere that ‘welcomes’ the Arsenal team. As well as that, Arsenal now have a bigger handful to deal with, with Stoke transforming into a skilful slick and ambitious team, with a lot bigger aspirations. So far they have defeated both the Manchester teams in formidable fashion, but occasionally this campaign a good result has been met with a rather disappointing one soon after, with the side slipping up to both Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion.
Arsenal won the reverse fixture in the Emirates back in September 2-0 quite casually, with Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud with the goals, that actually sent Stoke to bottom spot after 5 games. A lot has changed since then, with Arsenal hugging top spot along with Leicester City, and Stoke sitting rather nicely in 7th, sniffing around a European finish. The Potters are currently en route to their highest ever Premier League finish, beating their 9th the past 2 seasons. It’s a whole different kettle of fish for Arsenal, who have been accused of slipping up far too often this season, missing out on claiming top spot more than enough times. A win is quite necessary for the Gunners this Sunday, with Stoke traveling to Leicester next Saturday.
Arsenal have no new injuries from the Liverpool clash, so it should be a relatively similar squad to the squad chosen for Anfield. However, we can welcome latest signing Mohamed Elneny to the squad, with a possibility of featuring against Stoke, and we are also able to welcome the tremendous Alexis Sanchez back into the squad. It is much expected that Alexis will be within the substitutes for this game, but he could feature in the latter stages of the game.
Regarding the Stoke team news, Geoff Cameron will miss out and their will also be a notable exclusion for Xherdan Shaqiri who is currently out with a hamstring injury. It is expected that Stoke stick with the same starting 11 as they did versus Norwich midweek.
This will be a big test for Arsenal, and one that could define the course of the season for the Gunners, with Arsenal only winning 1 out of their last 6 visits to the Brittania. However, looking at the other side of the coin, Arsenal have just lost 1 of their last 11 matches, with that being the infamous slaughtering from Southampton on Boxing Day. Since then, Arsenal have looked a more dangerous side going forward, scoring 9 in their previous 4 games.
Ones to Watch
One to watch in this game will have to be yet again Mesut Özil. He has neither scored nor assisted in his previous two appearances, which few would have expected judging his revelation of a season so far. He did claim an assist at the reverse fixture between these two sides, and I will be shocked if he does not on Sunday. Another one to watch would have to be the dangerman Marko Arnautovic, and how young Spaniard Hector Bellerin neutralises the Austrians effect will be interesting.