After the crazy Friday which saw us draw Barcelona in the Champions League, it’s back to the normality of the Premiership…
Stoke for us will always be remember as a club whose manager told their player to “rough us up”, “show them who’s boss”… and before the encounter that saw Ryan Shawcross go through Aaron Ramsey like a bull in a china shop… Stoke did say they were going to play rough, and rough is what they are all about.
We all understand that football is physical, but there is a limit and for me, Stoke have crossed that limit several times and Shawcross has been the culprit on more than one occasion. The manager talked about the player earlier in the week and highlighted the need to play and not focus on Shawcross or the style that Stoke want to adopt – no excuses that we were bullied out of anything, just get on with the game…
“It is Arsenal against Stoke. Every game is different and it is a new start. We do not have any preconceived ideas before the game happens on any individual. We want to win the game, focus on it and respect our opponent as we always do. What happened in the past, happened in the past. We have come out on that – I don’t think there is any need to add any fuel on it and just focus on playing football as we always do and respecting our opponents.”
So, let me do just that…
Szcznesy may just keep his place in team, as news is that Fabianski is not fit yet, he is only 80%… whilst Almunia has suffered a new ankle problem which will keep him out – Bendtner is about to become a dad – so he’s not included in the squad, and with no further games after Stoke until Chelsea on the 27th, we should be looking to play our strongest squad…
My predicted team is:
Sagna – Squillaci – Djourou – Clichy
Denilson – Song
Nasri – Cesc – Arshavin
I really think Arsene will play Djourou – he is so good in the air and Stoke will look to throw as many balls into the air as possible – and Denilson may be chosen ahead of Wilshere who could do with a game on the bench after quite a few games in succession recently.
Walcott will most likely start on the bench – as the form of Nasri is outstanding at the moment and until Walcott starts coming off the bench and making a difference, it’s his best place.
Arsene talked about Stoke and their threats…
“I think they have improved on the footballing side so they are a dangerous team for anybody. I certainly think they are offensively more dangerous than before because they have Kenwyne Jones, Ricardo Fuller, Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington. They are very dangerous on the flanks, with good crosses, and in the middle. When you play against Stoke you know you will need a very solid defensive game.”
We’ve been taken apart – well, I mean, we’ve been given the “Stoke effect” before, we need to be focussed and ready to battle, but at the same time ensure we play to our strengths, which is our passing game and don’t result in their game…
On Sunday, it’s Chelsea vs Manchester United – a game in which one of those two teams will drop points, and if we win against Stoke, we can somehow catipult ourselves back into the race.