Arsenal enter the game against Stoke with something of a defensive crisis on their hands. Having already lost first-choice right-back Bacary Sagna until the new year, stand-in right back Carl Jenkinson pulled up after 60 minutes on Wednesday, leaving the Gunners with no more specialist full-backs to play. Against Marseille it was Johan Djourou that was brought on to play, but against Stoke it might end up being Coquelin.
After the confidence-inspiring win in mid-week, Arsenal were probably hoping for a bit of an easier match on Sunday than a game against the most physical and bustling team in the Premier League. Stoke will be at a distinct disadvantage, having played in Europe on Thursday night, but their hassling style of play and their workhorse footballers should still be able to make life difficult for Arsenal.
With Arteta and Ramsey starting to link up well in the centre of midfield, the Gunners finally have something of a spine in the team, with Mertesacker and Vermaelen trusted at the back, and Robin van Persie leading by example from the front. They finally start to look like a team.
Hopefully their defensive frailty is behind them – it will be severely tested by the battering ram of Stoke’s throw ins and corners – and Arsenal will have the ability to pick their way through where Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United have failed. We shall see…
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Robin van Persie looked in imperious form last week, with his delightful fade and then chip almost taking the Goal of the Season Award with only 8 games gone. We’re backing him as an anytime goalscorer at 1.83 (Bet Clic). Looks good to us… Come on Arsenal!
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