Arsenal fans are hoping for a hefty does of payback as well as all three points from the visit of our regular tormentors Stoke City today. JUst as their managers and players like to say things like `Arsenal do not like being kicked` we need to be able to say things like `Stoke don’t like fast, accurate passing and quality attacking incision`.
And just as the Gunners have a terrible recent record at the Britannia stadium, the Potters do not like playing on the large and perfect pitch at the Emirates stadium or Highbury, without an away win over Arsenal since 1981. In fact, the Gunners are going for 13 home wins in a row over Stoke.
And Arsene Wenger has been handed a few injury boosts to help him achieve that, although Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott all start from the bench, as does Mathieu Flamini, which means that Francis Coquelin is rewarded for his impressive performances with his third Premier League start on the spin.
Tomas Rosicky also comes in, with either him or Santi Cazorla to provide the keys to unlock a well organised Stoke defence. Oxlade-Chamberlain completes the front three with Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, giving us plenty of pace, power and hopefully more than enough quality to put the visitors to the sword.
At the other end, no one will be surprised to see that David Ospina keeps his place with our under fire Polish keeper staying on the bench. In front of Ospina, Arsenal have the first choice central defensive pairing of Mertesacker and Koscielny, who will be hoping to stop some of the criticism with a solid showing and a clean sheet.
Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal
Coquelin, Rosicky, Cazorla
Alexis, Giroud, Chamberlain
subs: Szczesny, Bellerin, Flamini, Ramsey, Ozil, Walcott, Campbell
I am a bit worried about the lack of defensive cover on the bench, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that the injury curse stays away from Arsenal today.