While Ryan Shawcross has been trying to get the intense rivalry between Arsenal and Stoke City into the forefront of all our minds and get the home fans whipped up into a frenzy before the Gunners arrive at the Britannia stadium tomorrow, Arsene Wenger has been doing the opposite.
In his pre-match press conference reported by Arsenal.com, the manager had his diplomatic head on and tried his best to play down the situation. Wenger has been a big part of the rivalry as well, being regularly targeted and taunted by the Potters fans, but he seems to want to ignore the provocation and draw a line under it. And with the Ramsey situation being the start of it all, Arsenal do have more reason to hold a grudge.
The Frenchman said, “It’s always a tough and very committed place to go but we prepare ourselves to be at the level of our commitment and dictate the way we want to play. The most important thing is to not forget how we play our game.
“They have a little bit of a different style. Against us it’s always a very committed game anyway.
“It’s a football game, it’s not a hate game. You want to focus on playing football.
“I think we have four draws and two losses against them [in the last seven], and not enough wins, so we have a good opportunity to add one.
“I believe it’s a tough place for everybody. They don’t lose many games at home, they are a stable team in the Premier League and they have a good record against many big teams.”
It is an admirable idea from Wenger, as we do not want games descending into chaos. If he was like Jose Mourinho he might get the Arsenal players prepared for battle and that could see us lose key men for disciplinary as well as injury reasons. But I don’t think that he can do anything to affect the approach of Stoke or the home crowd.
So I hope that behind closed doors, Wenger will be preparing his team for a tough test and making sure that we know what to expect and are ready to stand our ground, as long as we do not step over the line. Do you think that the boss is wasting his time trying to discharge the tension between the two clubs?