Do Arsenal have the fight to beat Stoke?

By Avenell Dave

Does anyone ever enjoy going to Stoke?

One of the windiest and most brutal parts of the country, with knuckledragger fans baiting players whose long term injuries have been inflicted by their own players, it's never a nice game.

We've lost there, we've won there and we've drawn there and any side managed by Mark Hughes is capable of making things difficult for us. 

He has a decent home record against us and his side has carried on where the Tony Pulis version left off, earning red and yellow cards aplenty. 

Arsene Wenger's message should be "Approach with caution"

I'll be honest: I'm filled with apprehension.

On paper, Stoke are a side we must be beating but we've only won there once in seven games - ironically when Aaron Ramsey got his ankle snapped.

On the plus side, Stoke have won only once in their last ten league matches and hardly ever keep a clean sheet, so we will get chances.

Our record against teams in the bottom half is superb but this feels like a real banana skin.

Will Mesut Ozil come back into the side? Almost certainly.

It's easy to forget that he's created more chances for team mates than anyone else in the top five leagues in Europe and I hope he's up for a fight given the robust attention and awful pitch he will encounter in the Potteries.

This is one of those games where playing both Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini might be the only option, given that we need to win the battle for possession and physical right to play before we focus on the pretty stuff.

Everyone is going to need to fight for everything - this is going to be a war, the complete opposite of what we encountered last weekend, sadly.

I just hope players don't jump out of too many tackles. 

We all have baggage after the Ramsey incident and certainly can't afford any more injuries, but if we don't battle for our lives, this is going to be one of those so-called winnable games that slips away from us.

We're going to get kicked all over the place and I'd be tempted to see Serge Gnabry given a run-out given that he is robust and able to handle himself, particularly with Jack Wilshere still somewhat fragile. But I suspect Jack will start unless he is unfit.

I can't imagine that Kieran Gibbs' agent would say he is fit and then the player is left out, especially with Nacho Monreal unavailable and Thomas Vermaelen not yet match fit.

On a separate note, let's hope Fulham pull a result out of the bag for their new manager in the local derby against that small club from West London. I would love to see Chelsea's challenge take a hit.



Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs

Arteta Flamini Wilshere

Ozil Giroud Cazorla