The Armchair Gooner

An Arsenal blog bringing you news, opinion and humour on a daily basis. Well, I'll try at the very least…

Stoke City (a): Thoughts, Team News and Predicted Starting XI

Few can shackle a leaping Per.

Morning, folks.

For a couple of games a season, I don’t like my last name. ‘Stokes’ is just too damn close to ‘Stoke’ for my liking, and although myself and the football team share little or no similarities, the ring of my surname irritates slightly. I guess it all goes back to that fateful day of Aaron Ramsey’s leg-break. Before that incident, no animosity appeared between the two Clubs. Now, it’s everywhere.

I don’t actually hate Stoke City or the vast majority of their fans. I loathe the select few who have taken to booing a player who had his leg snapped in two on their pitch and I don’t much care for the lumbering idiot responsible. Those that bay and taunt Ramsey for doing absolutely nothing at all wrong are moronic. All clubs have fans that take things a little too far – Arsenal being no exception – and with all the tension in the air it is good to remember that.

It’s also far more important to put all that to one side and focus on the fixture. The media love to stoke (pun intended) the fire before an occasion like this in the hope their actions promote further incidents they can sell their drivel off. Ensuring you don’t get embroiled in such a fiasco is often tricky, but invariably the best course of action.

The team news today is troubling defensively. Both Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs are major doubts and Thomas Vermaelen isn’t 100% fit to cover at left-back. Should those 3 all miss out I’d assume Flamini will play there having done so during our 2006 run to the Champions League final – with great aplomb, I might add. Nothing is certain at this point. Mesut Ozil will return after slight hip trouble and being afforded a rest. Theo Walcott remains on crutches and Abou Diaby will not be in the squad due to his commitment to starring as a bewildered scientist in the latest Jurassic Park film. Hold onto your butts…

Assuming all of our injury concerns fail to make the match-day squad, I would  guess the players will take to the field a little something like this:

Vs Stoke?

March is a tough, tough month. Within the next 30 days we have some exceedingly important and challenging fixtures to navigate. Starting today with 3 points in a diffcult ground against testing opponents would be the perfect way to kick off that run.

Mark Hughes won’t totally go for the Tony Pulis,¬†I’m-going-to-field-11-monsters-and-kick-lumps-out-of-the-opponents approach, but it’s doubtful he’ll shy away from the physical side of the game. Stoke have plenty of hefty units for the diminutive and cunning members of our attack to find their way past. We all know that it will be a fixture not for the faint hearted today.

I am confident of a win. Playing well and with the verve we have in attack, securing 3 points is a quest Arsenal are more than capable of completing. However, The Britannia Stadium is one of those grounds that I don’t feel all warm and gooey inside about the team visting. The atmosphere will be hostile and our hosts are sure to use that to their advantage. Keeping possession and starting on the front foot will be integral to success, as will be a stern and committed defensive performance.

I shall predict – boldly- a 3-0 win and a couple of goals from Mesut Ozil.

That’s all for today, folks. The comments await you below. What are your thoughts on the line up and the potential problem at left full-back? What do you think the final score will be? Let me know.

Tomorrow I shall return with a review of the game and, hopefully, lots of wonderful things to discuss. Until then, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Category: Match previews
  • Joy says:

    Punctual as usual. About the line up, why change a winning formular? I’ld prefer poldi in the place of Ozil just like the last tym. Ozil should start from the bench. Every other position is game for me. Score line? 3-1 to the Arsenal! Ciao.

    March 1, 2014 at 9:13 am
    • Joy says:

      And… Stokes. That your real last name?

      March 1, 2014 at 9:16 am
  • Admir says:

    Hello, James.

    You know, on South-Slavic languages “stoka” means “cattle” as in: “Any large, ruminant, even-toed, hoofed mammal of the genus Bos”. “Stoke” would be a plural of that noun.

    March 1, 2014 at 10:22 am
  • nijjy says:

    hi everyone. kinda torn between rosicky and the ox on the right. the ox has been terrific, while rosicky excelled in the last game. but with ozil expected to start behind giroud, either one of them will have to be on the bench. i’d start with the ox with rosicky coming on in the 70th minute to add pace and organization to the team.

    i have a request to my fellow gunners. the match is not going to be telecast live in india and i’ve been really pissed off with the fox network (which has 6 sports channels none of which is going to show any live football today, instead showing cricket everywhere). so it’d be awesome if you could provide me some links for live streaming on the internet. i’d myself look for some. thanks in advance. COYG

    March 1, 2014 at 10:26 am
  • LeBigMac says:

    Just want to get this stat out there for future detractors to eat should this game not be kind to the fantastic Mesut:

    “Mesut Ozil has created more chances for team-mates (73) than any other player in the top five European leagues this season”

    Courtesy of BBC Sport page – read whilst totally ignoring ANYTHING the moustachioed prehistoric bin dipper had to say……..

    March 1, 2014 at 11:16 am
  • nijjy says:

    @CeeJay- thanks. i’ve got some links as well. not bad so far.

    March 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm

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