It is quite amazing how some teams and grounds are more difficult no matter where the two teams stand in the table. I know records are there to be broken but in my head I know for a fact that Stoke are Arsenal’s bogey team when we meet at the Britannia Stadium. The stats bear this out with the results showing that we have only won once on our last eight visits there, including a 3-2 defeat last season.
It doesn’t look good, but Arsene Wenger believes that the Gunners are much more formidable team this time around. “Last year we went to Stoke with a very young defence – we had Bellerin, Chambers, Martinez – and at the start of the game we got caught,” Le Prof said on Arsenal.com.
“Over the years they had a very efficient, traditional English style which nobody liked to play against and it is as well a very windy stadium. And let’s not forget for years they had that narrow pitch where every throw-in beyond halfway was a corner when Rory Delap played.
“[This time] Cech is 34, Mertesacker 30, Koscielny 30, Monreal 30… before we did not have that level of experience and that helps a little bit.
“I think [the squad] feels stronger. It is always a test at Stoke and I believe our record goes against us, but it is interesting as well because it is also a mental test to show we have moved forward and that we can deal with what they offer.
“I feel the feeling that the team moved forward in 2015. We have stabilised the results and got some consistency and the biggest challenge was to win the big games.
“That makes you feel stronger when you are fighting for the Premier League title. We have beaten United and City recently so we can do very well.”
“I hope we have a good result and I will call you on Sunday night to make sure the statistics are updated!” he said.
That is fighting talk from Wenger, but it’s nice to see he is much more confident. We don’t want any more scenes like the infamous Stoke Railway Station incident from a few years ago….
But back to my point. Another BIG reason that Arsenal need to win this is the stunning fact that no team EVER that has lost at Stoke has EVER gone on to win the Premier League……