By Tanaka Felix Chidemo
Away from the comfort of the Emirates and into the hostility of the Brittania. Stoke on Sunday. This is the English Premier League.
Stoke is not a place that Arsenal are very fond of. There have been moments when we’ve been lucky to walk out of the Brittania with a point and some of our players have been fortunate to be carried out with all their limbs on their person. In light of our mixed fortunes at the Brittania, to fancy Stoke against Arsenal is not misplaced but I think Arsenal can go past this hurdle without sharing the spoils. Per Mertersacker stood tall in our defence last season with regards to ariel threats.
That helped lower the number of set pieces and headers we conceded. Our most unsavoury previous engagements with Stoke have seen us undone by their long ball and signature throws. Per’s presence will be a big help as he looks set to start alongside Vermaelen in defence ahead of Koscielny who remains sidelined due to injury.
Regardless of the fact that Koscielny is out, Mertersacker-Vermaelen was always going to be my preferred centre back pairing for this one. Crouch will need a ‘curator’ everytime he’s in our box and Per is the man. Vermaelen is part of the back four furniture, if he’s fit he plays, end of story!
New boy Santi Carzola looked classy against Sunderland and Gervinho had no respect for anyone as he attempted to dribble past a player 20 times in that game according to Opta. A reproduction of that form, better finishing from Podolski & Giroud and we’ll be asking ‘Robin van who?’ England international Oxlade-Chamberlain returns for this game but long term absentees, Wilshere, Rosicky and Sagna will continue to keep the medical staff company.
Stoke will miss the services of Whitehead who’s serving a one-match ban and Pennant who’s out with a thigh strain. Sadly for Arsenal, I hear all of Stoke’s towels are fit and dry for Shutton’s service. I expect the same starting Xl as the one last week to feature for this one but I won’t rule out seeing Chamakh in the game’s dying embers if things go south.
Twitter was alight with talk of Sahin joining Arsenal in the short term. Percentages of how far the deal had gone were peddled and most were quite high. Never quite understood how the people on twitter calculate those percentages but from what I’ve heard the system that they use is similar to the Duckworth-Lewis method used in cricket. I stand to be corrected and enlightened. The latest on Sahin is that Liverpool are now on pole to sign him. Its Formula One stuff this race for Sahin. I wouldn’t rule out another twist as we approach the last turn.
3-1 in favour of Arsenal is my prediction for this one and I’m tipping Theo, Gervinho and Podolski to score. Possession figures should also make for pleasant reading.
Victoria Concordia Crescit!