There is no doubt that the reputations of Stoke and Arsenal are completely contrasting, with the Gunners historically regarded as a much more successful outfit. However, this is a clash that has always caused Arsene Wenger problems and it remains to be seen if Stoke’s physical approach will once again prove too much for this Arsenal team.
After experiencing a difficult campaign last year, nobody knows what quite to expect of Stoke following a summer of little investment. Their 2012/13 campaign certainly seemed to be getting off to a positive start last weekend although despite leading Reading for most of the game, Tony Pulis’ men had to settle for just one point after conceding a last minute penalty. Nevertheless, there were positives to take, with a debut goal by Michael Kightly being one of them. Still, supporters should be slightly cautious, with the Potters without a win in seven games in a run dating back to last season. There is also a high chance that this clash could conclude in a draw, with the Britannia Stadium outfit recording 1-1 results in all of their last five games, including pre-season.
Arsenal meanwhile started the new campaign in disappointing fashion, having also recorded a draw last weekend. After hosting Sunderland at home, expectations were much higher for the Gunners and Arsene Wenger would have preferred to be carrying three points ahead of this tricky trip to the Britannia Stadium. Following on from that point, it will certainly be interesting to see how the Emirates Stadium outfit cope especially after losing combative midfielder Alex Song last week. Even though they have signed some extremely promising flair players through the summer, whether or not these will be sufficient to overcome the threat of a team like Stoke remains to be seen.
As for team news, Jermaine Pennant faces a race against time to be fit to play against his former club as the winger struggles with injury. In other news, Tony Pulis may also be without Dean Whitehead as the former Sunderland midfielder sits out through suspension. Arsenal on the other hand are tipped to make changes to their starting line-up, after struggling to break down Sunderland last weekend. Olivier Giroud is expected to make his first start, although Arsene Wenger will not be able to rely on Laurent Koscielny who is out with a calf issue.
It is a well-known fact that Stoke have always been one of the teams that Arsenal struggle against, with the Gunners just not able to cope with the Potters’ physical style of player. After Arsene Wenger’s men failed to break down Sunderland last weekend, we’re predicting more of the same this time as well. In a dour match for the neutral, our prediction is a goalless draw at the Britannia Stadium.