Premier League: Stoke City v Arsenal match preview
A look ahead to this weekend's fixture at the Britannia Stadium
Friday 28 February 2014
Stoke City have won one Premier League match since December 21st, and find themselves just three points above the relegation places. That said, most concerned with the club will feel their chances of avoiding relegation are high, even without Tony Pulis at the helm. After their match against Arsenal at the weekend, seven of their remaining ten fixtures are against clubs scrapping with them in the bottom half. Seven cup finals, as the cliché goes.
Arsenal are still smarting after their Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich, but treated their fans to a near-perfect display against Sunderland to make amends. They won 4-1, brushing the Black Cats aside with ease. Arsenal's Premier League season to date has surpassed expectations, and they are still desperately clinging on to Manchester City and Chelsea for a shot at the title.
Arsene Wenger's men currently have the most injuries of any squad in the Premier League, but should welcome back a few high-profile names for their trip to the Britannia. Mesut Özil was left out of the Sunderland game after his penalty miss against Bayern Munich but, along with club captain Thomas Vermaelen, will return to the squad this weekend.
Vermaelen has been sidelined for two months with a knee injury, but is likely to slip straight into the starting eleven at left-back in the absence of Nacho Monreal and Keiran Gibbs. Stoke only have two absentees ahead of the game, with Robert Huth and Oussama Assaidi both out. Huth has not featured since November, but played 45 minutes for Stoke's reserves in the week; Saturday is thought to be slightly too early for a first-team appearance though. It was revealed last week that Assaidi suffered ligament damage during Stoke's warm weather training camp in Dubai, and he will miss 'a number of weeks'.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Arsenal 3 (Ramsey, Mertesacker, Sagna) Stoke 1 (Cameron), Premier League, September 2013
Arsenal 1 (Podolski) Stoke 0, Premier League, February 2013
Stoke 0 Arsenal 0, Premier League, August 2012
Peter Crouch has found the net seven times against Arsenal; only against Blackburn (8) has he scored more.
Stoke haven't lost a match at the Britannia since January 12th (3-5 vs Liverpool)
In their last 13 Premier League matches, Arsenal have only scored in the first half of three of them.
Only Tottenham (29) have earned more points away from home than Arsenal (26) this season.
Stoke City to win: 6.2
Arsenal to win: 1.71
TV: Highlights on BBC1, Saturday, 10.30pm
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