Ask The Oppo! Arsenal v Stoke City

Tomorrow we see the visit of Stoke City to the Emirates, after a disastrous week for the Gunners on the back of two consecutive defeats. Arsene Wenger, who has been in the news this week for all the wrong reasons, is celebrating his 500th league game as Arsenal manager.  The match also is another milestone for the club – the 100th Arsenal game to be played at the Emirates Stadium.

Tony Pulis and his Stoke side have built a reputation over the last 18 months as becoming one of the toughest teams in the division, and it’ll be no different tomorrow as  City look to avenge their 4-1 defeat at The Emirates, at the end of last season.

Today, ELLIOT NEWMAN chatted with Stoke City fan James Girling from Newcastle-under-Lyme.  James, who has been a season ticket holder at The Brittania since 200, has defiantly seen the ups and downs of Stoke’s form in the last few years.  James will be making his first visit to the Emirates tomorrow and claims it could be a very open game. I asked him a few questions regarding everything City, and his views on tomorrow’s game;

So, James.  How are things at Stoke this season?

I feel it’s pretty much business as usual following of from last season. Except this season we seem to be more looked upon as a Premier League side.

Class, I totally agree on the Premier League bit. Any particular players standing out then?

I feel that Glenn Whelan is starting to stand out this season, as well as Mathew Etherington, who has been a superb acquisition, but I feel  we most of our points to club captain Abdoulaye Faye, who has been a stalwart all season, and has become a strong fans favourite. On a attacking front Beatts (James Beattie) has been leading the line brilliantly, and is easily our best player.

How’s the ‘famous’ atmosphere this season then? You seem to of built quite a reputation over the last year for the vocal element at Stoke.

The reputation is well deserved, on its day, the Boothen is second to none. It really does drive on the players, as you could tell last season. And it’s an honour to be a part of it.

Will we be likely to see Rory Delap’s long throwing antics?

It’s defiantly a part of our game plan to try and win attack minded throw ins. It really fits in with our notorious agricultural style of play.

Realistically, where will you be in the table come May time?

I would be delighted to finish lower mid-table. I am not to buy into the typical Premier League fans ideal of immediately pushing for Europe. I reckon, give it a couple of years of consolidation and we’ll be in a better place to drive the club’s targets. But for now I am just pleased to be a Premier League club.

Very honest there, James. Very refreshing to hear. How do you feel your boy’s will approach tomorrow’s game?

Well, I feel the only wat to beat Arsenal, is to get right into the faces and not give them a minute’s peace, and I feel we have the players and the ability to do that. If we can come away with a point, then I will actually enjoy my normally disappointing trips to London, and to have an enjoyable journey home. And, to be honest, I’ll be happy to avoid such a sound thrashing as last time.

Are you happy with Tony Pulis at the helm? And what do you think of the whole handshake-gate affair between AW and Mark Hughes?

I’ll admit I was a bit sceptical when he first came back to the club, but I’ve been proved completely wrong, which I’m not to disheartened about. I feel he is the right man for the clubs illusive plans and I hope he can stick around for many years to come. On Wenger, although I don’t think it’s the correct way to end a match, it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened. And, I believe it’s the media has made a mountain out of a molehill.

Thanks, James, much appreciate the time you’ve given. Hope you have a safe journey down to the Emirates and all the best for the season.

Finally, a prediction…

Arsenal pipping City with a gentleman’s 3-2, let’s hope I’m wrong!

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