Arsenal will take to the pitch again Sunday afternoon as they face Stoke City in an important Premier League match at 1:30pm. The Gunners are attempting to pass Liverpool for top spot or at least hang onto second place in the table, which they currently occupy with nine points, just one behind the Reds. They’ll also be aiming for their seventh win in a row. Team confidence should be sky high right now as they have seemingly found the Midas touch, especially Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey who has already hit a career season high with sis goals to his name.
The squad is coming off of a morale-building 2-1 win over Marseille in the Champions League on Wednesday and are hoping to keep the momentum going with a win over Stoke. There aren’t any passengers in the team at the moment and that’s been crucial since Arsene Wenger’s squad has been hit with a rash of injuries. Lukas Podolski, Abou Diaby, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are still out of action. The status of Santi Cazorla, Yaya Sanogo and Tomas Rosicky isn’t exactly known, but they could all miss the game. We could see the likes of Serge Gnarby, Chuba Akpom, Ryo Miyaichi and Thomas Eisfeld fill their spots on the bench.
On the flip side, 31-year-old Spanish international midfielder Mikel Arteta is set to return to the squad after recovering from a thigh injury. Arteta has yet to make an appearance this season and with the injury situation the way it is he couldn’t have returned at a better time. However, there’s no guarantee that he’ll feature against Stoke. Wenger was pleased with the news and said, “He’s very influential and he’s one of the leaders of the team and is a technical leader as well. We are happy to have him back because at the moment with the number of injuries we have we are a bit short and we have plenty of games in front of us.”
Stoke is hanging onto seventh place in the Premier League standings. They’ve earned seven points out of 12 in their four matches up to now under new manager Mark Hughes. Their last match was a 0-0 home draw last weekend against Manchester City and they’ve always given the Gunners a hard time. Hughes also has some injury problems of his own and will likely have to play the game without Mark Muniesa, Jamie Ness and Glenn Whelan. Charlie Adam may also be doubtful for the game.
Overall, the two teams have met a total of 90 times with Arsenal winning 46 of them Stoke taking 23 and the other 21 contests ending in draws. The Gunners have also outscored them 142 to 84. At home, Arsenal has been dominant with 35 wins, five draws and five losses. They’ve outscored Stoke 95 to 26 in those 45 matches. In five visits to the Emirates Stoke has yet to take a point home with them. The Gunners beat them 1-0 at home last Premier League season and drew 0-0 in Stoke. The last victory for Stoke against Arsenal came in May of 2011 with a 3-1 win at home.
This should be a tough and physical game, but it’s one the Gunners can and should win to prove they’re serious challengers for the Premier League title this season.