Barclays Premier League
Kick off: December 6th, 2014 1500 GMT
Three wins in the previous three outings. The team is starting to build up some momentum and hopefully that will be preserved going into today’s game. Stoke City have been something of a nightmare opposition for us and we have had very little success at the Britannia over the past few seasons. However, that could change today provided the players show the same drive and dedication they have displayed lately.
Team selection still remains an easy task for Wenger; our ongoing injury problems have left us with almost no rotation options. This is especially true for the defence. Argentine rookie Emiliano Martinez continues in his role between the sticks; he has turned in three clean sheets in three appearances so far and will be looking to extend that run today as well.
Wojciech Szczesny, though fit, will start on the bench.
Lining up in front of the keeper we have Bellerin, Chambers, Mertesacker and Gibbs. This is the first time that the German and Chambers will be paired together in central defence, but Wenger had said that he wanted to do this. Resting Koscielny gives him the opportunity to try this, also it hands Bellerin a rare start.
In deep midfield, we have Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey. Flamini will be given his usual role of covering the defence, something he did very well in the game against Southampton. In the absence of Arteta, the Frenchman has the chance to cement a permanent first team spot for himself and if he turns in a couple of more performances of same calibre as the one against Southampton, then Arteta will be facing some serious competition when he returns. Aaron Ramsey will play as the deep lying playmaker; it will be interesting to see how he reacts to the reception in the ground which nearly ended his career.
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In the advanced positions, we have Cazorla, the ox and Sanchez. There is absolutely no reason to change a perfectly fine arrangement, Cazorla has been in brilliant form over the past few games, Sanchez remains our best attacking outlet. The Ox has the pace to leave the Stoke defence tied up in knots and create space for Giroud.
Speaking of Giroud, the Frenchman will start as our striker, but expect to see him dropping back regularly. His physical presence will be much needed in the midfield against a side who are well known for their rough tackling game.
As substitutes, Podolski and Welbeck will provide late firepower.
Martinez, Bellerin, Chambers, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Ramsey, Flamini, Ox, Cazorla, Sanchez, Giroud.
Szczesny, Koscielny, Ajayi, Maitland-Niles, Campbell, Podolski, Welbeck.