Stoke City-Arsenal. Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. The Beat Must Go On.

And Arsenal must win at the always difficult Britannia Stadium if they wish to keep their hopes of Champions League Football alive.  If we can grab all three points at Stoke, Gooners will watch Sunday’s West Ham-Liverpool match with a keen eye.  Winning in the potteries combined with the Hammers getting a result would mean that Arsenal would finally hold their fate in their own hands in the quest for top 4 spot.

But that’s getting ahead of things and taking care of our own business at Stoke must be the only focus.  It won’t be easy.  Although Stoke sit comfortably in the middle of the table, there is no love lost between the opposing managers and Mark Hughes will want his team to give their all to beat the Gunners.  Stoke supporters will too, and, as always when Arsenal visit, will want to see blood if not broken bones.  Even if Hughes has morphed his squad into a more skilled group than the teams his predecessor Tony Pulis put out, this fixture always has an edge to it.  I expect both Aaron Ramsey and Ryan Shawcross, the man who broke his leg back in 2010, to start in this one and I’ll be watching when they shake hands to gauge the intensity of the game just ahead.

As I say, the current Stoke group are more than just cloggers and brutes.  Players like Xherdan Shaquiri, Saido Berahino and Joe Allen are small but skilled attackers even if they are backed up by bigger and more powerful guys like Shawcross, Bruno Martins Indi and Geoff Cameron.  Arsenal should beware of those more sizable players when they come forward at set pieces.  In open play, it will be the smaller guys working in combos and trying to deliver crosses and throughballs towards Marko Arnautovic and Mame Diouf.  Stoke, in front of their home crowd, won’t just sit back and defend.

That might suit Arsenal who are becoming ever more familiar with the 3-4-3 formation that has yielded five wins from six matches since it was introduced.  Surely manager Arsene Wenger will send out his first 11 in that set-up.  The bigger question is if he will rotate some players into the group or stay with the starters who won at Southampton on Wednesday night.  Rotation would seem the call with less than 72 hours to recover and prepare between our matches compared to Stoke’s full week off since they drew 2-2 at Bournemouth last Saturday.  With only a week left in the season, however, I think Wenger will flog his players and hope they can dig deep to continue their winning ways.  As such, my guess is that the only change will be an enforced one: Hector Bellerin in for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at right wingback.  The Ox was forced off with a hamstring injury on Wednesday night but reports are that it was not overly severe.  I hope that’s the case so I’m slating him for a bench seat.  My predicted first 11 thus looks like this.





Substitutes: Ospina, Gabriel, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Walcott, Giroud

That’s just my predicted group and there seems plenty of rationale to make additional changes.  The big figure of Olivier Giroud is always an asset at the front post when corner kicks are taken–at both ends of the pitch–especially against the more physical sides.  If he goes for deeper rotation, Wenger might choose to hand starts to Francis Coquelin, Alex Iwobi and/or Theo Walcott, guys who might be fresher and who might be able to offer a little recovery time for some of the players who have been starting each and every match.  Then there are those who have been training but not dressing for recent games, a group that includes Per Mertesacker, Mathieu Debuchy and Lucas Perez.  This game represents the mid-point of a brutal run of five matches in two weeks.  It would be a risky move to break up a winning formula but can Wenger afford to push his regulars so hard?

We shall see, but my hunch is that he’ll stay with as much of the winning group as he can.  What say you?  Everybody has an opinion, so don’t keep it to yourself.

As Wenger has been saying, “We have one advantage, the advantage of clarity.”  Clearly we need another win and we must get it by hook or by crook.  A well rested Stoke team in front of their home support is as big a test as they come.  No matter what, somehow Arsenal must rise to the occasion and bring home the three points.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace



65 thoughts on “Stoke City-Arsenal. Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. The Beat Must Go On.

  • Its up for grabs 17ht! Nice piece i must say.Fingers crossed for this match though,just pray on it gooners and hopefully the lads will stay focused & keep the top four vision tunneled.

  • This is one of those matches where it’d be ideal to bring Lucas in, especially as he’s been talking about not getting game time. I know the Potters are more the team for Giroud, but I’d really like to see more of Perez.

  • Nice preview 17! Injuries permitting, I think your predicted line up is what we’ll see versus Stoke.

    That said, if Arsenal do persist with a 5-2-3 setup, and with Koscielny and Oz likely to be missing with injury, the starting line up I’d prefer to see is:

    GK: Cech
    RWB: Debuchy
    RCB: Holding
    CB: Mustafi
    LCB: Monreal
    LWB: Gibbs
    LCDM: Xhaka
    RCDM: Coquelin
    LW: Alexis
    CF: Giroud
    RW: Perez

    In that setup I’d like to see Arsenal employ the following complimentary tactics:

    1. Defensively, the back seven (i.e. the back five and 2 CDMs) predominantly sit deep, focus on maintaining their defensive structure and shape, stay compact and tackle and intercept. As for Alexis, Giroud and Perez, I would like to see them remain around the halfway line and press the opposition’s defenders when they are in possession of the ball.

    2. In terms of transitional play, I’d like to see Debuchy, Coquelin, Xhaka and Gibbs as Arsenal’s primary outlets to transition the ball from defence to attack. I envisage that they would do so through a combination of: executing long range passes into the channels for Alexis and Perez respectively; and, in the case of Debuchy and Gibbs dribbling the ball upfield.

    3. Offensively, i’d like to see Alexis and Perez position themselves in the left and right channels, either side Giroud in the CF role, and when they take possession of the ball in that space, I’d like to see them try to cut inside and fire angled shots toward the far post. In addition I envisage Giroud prowling in the 18 yard box and attacking crosses from Gibbs and Debuchy as well as pouncing on defensive errors from the opposition. Furthermore, when Arsenal inevitably monopolise possession in the opposition’s half, I’d like to see purposeful build up play designed to create long range shooting opportunities for Xhaka and Alexis.

    While that’s the players and tactics I’d like to see Arsenal deploy if they were to go with a 5-2-3 setup, and with Koscielny and Ox unavailable due to injury, I still think Arsenal’s squad is best suited to a 4-3-1-2 setup compromised of:

    GK: Cech

    RB: Debuchy

    CB: Mustafi

    CB: Holding (in Koscielny’s absence)

    LB: Monreal

    LCDM: Xhaka

    CDM: Coquelin

    RCDM: Elneny (in Ox’s absence)
    CAM: Ozil

    LS: Alexis
RS: Perez

    In that setup I’d like to see Arsenal employ the following tactics:

    1. Defensively, the back seven (i.e. the back four and 3 CDMs) predominantly sit deep, focus on maintaining their defensive structure and shape, stay compact, and tackle and intercept. As for Ozil, Alexis and Perez, I’d like to see them remain around the halfway line and press the opposition’s defenders when they are in possession of the ball.

    2. I’d envisage Elneny, Xhaka and Ozil being Arsenal’s primary outlets to transition the ball from defence to attack and would do so through a combination of: Elneny and Xhaka executing long range passes into the channels for Alexis and Perez, playing one-twos with a floating Ozil, passing through the lines to Ozil. As for Ozil, I’d like to see him drifting horizontally across the field when Arsenal attack in order to execute one-twos with Elneny and Xhaka, when they attempt to transition the ball forward, as well as make himself available to receive the ball from any of the back seven and quickly execute through passes to Alexis and Perez.

    3. Offensively, I’d like to see Alexis and Perez primarily make darting off the ball runs behind the opposition’s defensive line and on goal when Arsenal attack. That said, when Arsenal inevitably monopolise possession in the opposition’s half, I’d like to see purposeful build up play designed to create long range shooting opportunities for Xhaka and Alexis.

    Should be another tough match versus the Potters. I hope Arsenal can put in another entertaining but pragmatic performance, like they did versus Man Utd and Southampton. COYG!

  • HT, excellent preview. Nailed Wenger’s dilemma :- continuity V fresh legs.

    Am a fresh leg freak with a lot of respect for continuity which equals dilemma that is heightened by the fact that we are playing again on Tuesday.
    Bellerin, Mustafi, Gabriel and Kosh(if passed fit) are the freshest of our starters. They start.
    Fresh legs Iwobi to start too.
    Welbeck and Holding to drop :- workload management.
    Elneny for Ramsey :- workload management.

    Predicted line up (5 changes) :-


    Subs:- Ospina, Holding, Gibbs, Coquelin, Ramsey, Walcoott, Girroud.

  • I agree with you 17HT I see minimal changes. If we are going to rest players, I think Sunderland is the best bet. I wish we could trust Gabriel more. He was like a Lion against City and that sort of attitude would be ideal for today. I would then play Nacho at left wingback, he works well with Alexis.

    No doubt the Orcs will leave a few stud marks on our boys and it’s vital that they keep their heads

  • You’ve captured the situation well, 17HT. We are, in a manner of speaking, condemned to win….and win, we must. I feel we can trust Gabriel, Coquelin, Iwobi and Elneny to sustain the tempo and grit shown by the side, lately. However, it is easier to just stay with the maxim ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

    I don’t envy the manager in this situation because we have a cup final coming and the last thing we need is injuries to key men; something that can happen just on workload alone.

    Away at Stoke, on a day as this, is another one of those where we have to start cautiously and see what they’ve got, note the weaknesses, then pick them off. Only trouble is, with the likes of Shaquiri and Arnaoutovic, they are likely to be more clinical than Southampton were, especially having been well rested. If we maintain focus on the goal of getting 3 points, we will come away with a win.


  • The annoying thing about Stoke is we know pretty much their game plan. No doubt Charlie Adam if he plays will leave his foot in asmuch as possible. Later on they will throw Crouchy at us. If we can react well to these onslaughts, we must have a good chance. 2. – 1 to our boys but I think it’s imperative we score first.

  • Both Adams and Crouch are subs today, with both sure to come on late with his usual rough house tactics. I hope we will be ready for him.

    Team news is out: Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Holding, Bellerin, Coquelin, Xhaka, Monreal, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud

    Subs: Ospina, Gabriel, Ramsey, Walcott, Iwobi, Welbeck, Elneny.

  • Stoke: Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Whelan, Cameron, Allen; Arnautovic, Diouf, Shaqiri

    Subs: Grant; Muniesa, Berahino, Adam, Walters, Crouch, Ramadan

  • Teams are out… Still flogging some of the horses but a few get a day off… 4 Changes to the group that started at So’ton… Mike Dean is up from the Championship to referee this one…

    Stoke City: Butland; Johnson, Shawcross (c), Martins Indi, Pieters; Cameron, Whelan; Shaqiri, Allen, Arnautovic; Diouf. Subs: Grant, Muniesa, Adam, Walters, Ramadan, Crouch, Berahino.

    Arsenal: Cech, Mustafi, Holding, Koscielny, Coquelin, Xhaka, Bellerin, Monreal, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud. Subs: Ospina, Gabriel, Ramsey, Walcott, Iwobi, Welbeck, Elneny


  • Looks like Coquelin Koscielny and Giroud with Ramsey, Gibbs and Welbeck steeping down.

    No doubt Nacho will revert to wing back which I think is good

    Neutral on Giroud for Welbeck, suspect Danny needs a rest

    Not so happy about Le Coq for Ramsey. Rambo is just getting some form together and I wonder if he is being protected from Shawcross.

  • Hey Gooneris… You beat me to it… 🙂

    No Ramsey-Shawcross handshake for me today… 😦

  • 17ht, it does look better coming from you, though. 😄

    The way you wrote “Mike Dean is up from the Championship to referee this one…” had an ominous ring to it. I do hope he behaves today.

  • Wenger just confirmed that some of the changes were as a result of historical events. Personally I think that sends out a weak message. I don’t see Stoke hiding Shawcross.

  • Don’t think so. Ramsey has played against Stoke since and even scored against them too.

    He will come on late on, I believe.

  • Not so sure, what other changes would be as a result of an historical event? Am also a little concerned about Le Coq and Xhaka pairing. I hope we don’t get a yellow card flashing ref. Like Mike Dean!!!!!!!!

  • Wenge– Out Means Out… Sign is flying…

    Were the 2nd 10 letters free? I’m pretty sure most people know what “out” means…

    I like the looks of how we’re playing…

    Ooohh… Nacho header is off the post!…

  • We are in relative control but I worry that we’ve not buried any of the chances we’ve had, so far. It’s a game you feel we need to get a goal this half because they have players like Crouch to call on and change the dynamic of their game.

    Wenger has to make changes earlier, methinks. For instance, the expectation of an aerial bombardment or balls in the box for Giroud have not happened, so why not bring on Welbeck with at least, 30 minutes to play. Ramsey too can do a job here and I will say take off Bellerin for him. Cow to move to right wing back. He has the skill even if missing the pace.

  • Our forward men need to gamble a bit and trust the runs of teammates. And as I type that, Bellerin embarrasses me with an assist for Giroud.

  • I have to say that Xhaka has been good recently.
    Very impressed with Holding and Monreal.

  • * Coq *, not Cow. Spellchecker issues. Lol.

    Happy with the half. We’ve had the commentatators wondering if we are that good or Stoke are just so bad as to have us in so much control with the low score count down to them defending deep. It just shows the entire squad is focused on giving the team the chance of achieving that top 4 place.

    Where was this grit in February and March when you needed it? A matter for another day but it just shows how much all the contract uncertainties has cost us. Let’s see if we can go on to score a few more for the confidence. We know Crouch will come on along with Ramadan, Walters and/or Berahino. We just have to keep the ball away from them and wait to pick them off as they come forward.

  • Goonereris if it is any consolation, I was thinking along similar lines. I didn’t think Bellerin was having a very good game and Giroud had gone awol.

  • What a 1-2 between our shit player and Alexis… Calmest of finishes too…

  • I really prefer 2-nil to 1-nil but I’d take a 3rd… :D

  • Before the goal I was gonna admonish you two for the worry and lack of faith, (though, of course, I worry too)… As much as I like the work of the 3 guys rotated in for the 1st goal (Coq, Bells, Giroud) what really set it up is the big change today… Alexis moving around the pitch and popping up in new spaces. His presence on the right side of the box was key in that first goal… And for the 2nd, of course, the pass was sublime…

    Ooooh let off there as Diouf heads back across goal but wide…

    Hughes using his final subs….Gotta be strong these next 10-15 mins…

  • Stoke pushing hard with all the corners and Cech has to make a good save, giving up another, of course…

  • Alexis grabbing his hammy… Looks like time-wasting to me… 🙂

  • Cech has been made to earn his keep, for the first time in the game. Hahahaha! Good spell of pressure by Stoke, fuelled by the presence of Crouch, no doubt.

  • Mike Dean won’t use his whistle and Stoke pull one back… That seemed like some fecked up shite…

  • Holding has allowed himself to be skinned too easily by Arnautovic to be honest. Gabriel should come on for him if he has no pace to cope with the winger.

    Mike dean is a dimwit.

  • Game’s totally out of control…Gotta expect play on, play on,play on and then a red card or pen…Just gotta make sure it goes our way. In the opposing stadium? Seems unlikely, I fear…

  • Alexis asking to be subbed….

    3-1 from the guy with the hamstring strain… :D

  • Keeper woud’ve been closer had Shawcross not deflected it towards the post… Last kick for Alexis as he’s subbed for Rambo…

  • Wenger has done a Mourinho-Drogba thing there you know. He has ignored Sanchez completely to the chagrin of most fans and he’s gone on to score a 3rd.

  • And immediately he does well to get a shot off but too close to Butland…

    Professional foul by Holding, gets yellow…

  • I think it is time to take Holding out of the firing line because he will be targeted for the second yellow.

    Ramsey to Giroud for 4!!!!!

  • 4-1 Giroud… Feck off Stoke… Rambo with the fine assist just out of reach of Shawcross…

  • Nice save by Cech… Video has confirmed Crouch’s goal was a handball…

  • This is a very good result in the hardest of our matches given the ref and the atmosphere he allowed but mostly because of the difficult turnaround from the So’ton match on Wednesday…

    Go on you Hammers… Though, of course, if they do, queue all the 4th is not a trophy guff…

    Me?… I’m proud of the boys….

  • OK gotta run… And away from the puter and telly for the WHU-Pool match tomorrow… Try to enjoy it…plus this result…


  • What we have lacked in the past few games we have found it: incisiveness. Good goals, and we did well defensively too.

    Ollie got himself into good positions for both of his goals, and it is good to see him scoring 2 goals. It’s been a while.

    Cheers on 3 points. Looking forward to Liv match tomorrow. Top 4 chase is definitely on.


  • Well that was entertaining. The Sanchez goal summed it up for me. Our best player has indicated he has done his hamstring. Cup final next week , do what does Wenger do….. .Nothing

    Retsub yelling at the T V get him off

    I concluded

    1. This was part of a master plan where Alexis feigns injury and then springs to life.
    2. Wenger is a medical genius and made a quick diagnosis
    3. He was blissfully unaware of what was happening.

    Loved Holding taking out whatever his name is I am sure he whispered “that ones for Rambo”
    Lots of great performances today, but I thought Nacho had a really good game

  • The lads have made the club proud, given how they had been written off by every pundit. Now, let’s see how Liverpool’s nerves hold out tomorrow. This was a great result and would have been 3 clean sheets on the bounce, but for Crouch’s handball goal.

    We move on to Tuesday and hope there will be no complacency; we need to keep up the intensity, if for nothing else, to keep momentum in preparation for the FA cup final.

  • Where the hell has that resiliance and fighting spirit been all season?

    Has three at the back really made that much of a difference?
    I guess it worked for Chelsea!

  • Allezkev,

    The resilience and the fighting spirit is back. Finally.

    3 at the back suits very nicely for Rambo and Santi. I had been shouting for it to be deployed as early as the Leicester former manager was sacked.

    We could have gained more points if we deploy it earlier.

    Too little too late, eh?

  • 84, it’ll be interesting to see if Arsene goes into next season with three at the back, it’s certainly been beneficial to a few of our players like Ramsey, Xhaka, Ox and Holding.
    If Arsene sticks with three, then that will shape his recruitment policy next season.

    As far deploying it earlier, I have to say that I never thought that Arsene would and I didn’t imagine that it would give us the defensive solidity that it has, up till now. I guess having that extra centre back gives the defence that bit of back-up we’ve lacked since Arsene went away from having a proper defensive midfielder in the mould of Vieira, Petit, Gilberto and Edu.

  • Kev
    Your list of the old defensive midfielders reads like a list of fine wines.

    I said yesterday I really liked Holding taking out Arnoutovic and whispering that ones for Rambo. I had forgotten he was the scum that flattened Debuchy at the Emirates and more or less finished his Arsenal career.

    If Holding hasn’t finished him off I think we should set Waldo on him lol

  • Retsub, luv you comment, fine wines indeed. 😊
    That was exactly my reaction when Holding ‘went in’ all guns blazing, I thought ‘that’s it, give em a bit in return’, I really rate that kid.

    Yeah mate, I’m waiting for Waldo to name an entire XI of Debuchys. 😉

  • Why the referee refused to award a clear cut penalty to West Ham?

    Worst refereeing ever. I hope that the FA looks into this.

    Bad game from West Ham too.

  • Yep he didn’t award it and The Scousers went down the other end and made 3 -0

    Might well have been 1 – 2 now

  • I didn’t see the West Ham v Liverpool game from start but from what I saw of the 2nd half, there’s no way I will be convinced this was not a “solidarity” match, with the full connivance of the Refs and a few of the hammers’ lads.

    What a poor effort in a last home game with a couple of their better players being unfit. It looked too easy at times for Liverpool. I expect the FA to ask questions of the officiating and the effort put in by the hosts.

  • …I should say …being ‘conveniently’ unfit. It was out of our hands from the moment we lost to give them that potential 1point advantage. But, nothing wrong with the hoping; Middlesbrough at Anfield will not even put up a fight, as they have nothing to play for.

    Well, it is to focus on the FA cup now. But first, win our last two games.

  • Tbh Eris, we find ourselves in our present situation, that is heading for Thursday night football, because of what has occurred earlier in this most erratic of seasons.

    I find it hard to understand how such a resilient performance could be put in by the same players who capitulated at C.Palace and West Brom.
    Confidence, luck, coaching, focus, preparation, referees, take your pick.

  • ….or a combination of all. It is not unusual to have a blip throughout a whole 9 months season but what happened with us was, at times, inexplicable.

  • Back at it and well disappointed to see the WHU-Pool result upon my return from the wilderness…

    Oh Well…

    New Post…

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