Arsenal will be looking for revenge today after the disastrous 3-2 defeat at the Britania late last year, here’s five reasons why we will gain all three points at Emirates.
A week of actual training
Having beaten Hull City at home in the FA Cup, Arsenal were afforded a week between games for the first time in a while. During the demanding festive period most training sessions between games are about recovery and working on little bits and pieces rather than having the opportunity to work heavily on issues such as the defensive structure as a unit which leads me to the next point..
The first choice back five
The elusive first choice back five (yes, including Szczesny) will have had a week in training gaining some much needed cohesion playing together. Although the back line was particularly culpable for the loss away at Southampton, players will be rested and ready to go for a challenging test against the Potters.
In what has been a forever changing back line it can only be positive if the same defensive unit can manage to string a series of games together.
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A weeks ‘rest’ for the Chilean superstar would have done him a world of good. No doubt he volunteered to mark all of the pitches at London Colney five times over and do press-ups in between one another while wearing ankle weights, but having some time to just train and not in a high intensity game situation every other day will do him a world of good.
Alexis will likely return to the wing against Stoke with Olivier Giroud spearheading the attack which in a way is a shame since he showed some great promise leading the line against Hull. But the beauty of having actual depth in attack allows Wenger to utilize the tall, physical Frenchman in games such as these where a powerful focal point will be hugely beneficial.
Nevertheless Alexis will relish the battle against the fiery Potters and be up the for the battle.
Walcott, despite his heavy touches and clear lack of sharpness, looked very lively in the FA Cup win last weekend. The Englishman offers something completely different in our attack and instantly puts our opponents defence on the back foot when he gets pedaling.
He will be an incredible asset this season and hopefully will earn another start today. A full week in training working with Alexis and Giroud will help the understanding develop, the latter were forming a strong partnership before Walcott’s injury and that can only be a positive thing for the Gunners.
Scoring will not be an issue for this Arsenal side.
The light at the end of the injury tunnel (touch wood)
Now I certainly do not want to jinx it, but with Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini all back in action this week Wenger has an actual ‘problem’ selecting a lineup. This is a welcomed situation considering how threadbare the midfield has been and will give us plenty of options from the bench against Stoke.
It is unlikely we will see many of the aforementioned trio start today, Flamini the most likely candidate to potentially support Francis Coquelin in midfield and add plenty of grit and physicality in the middle.
The mood is positive around the club and we need to back that up with a big win today.