Match Preview: Arsenal v Stoke City; EPL Match Day 9

October 23, 2011

First, let me apologize for the lateness in the release of this match preview. As it is,  this is the match preview that almost wasn’t. For the past 48 hours I’ve been dealing with a computer that kept spitting out BSOD warnings every time I started it up. Finally it died and forced me last night to go get new box and as of a few hours ago I got all my software installed and could finally get started on what really matters – preparing for the Premier League tie between Arsenal and Rugby FC, aka Stoke City.

Actually calling Stoke Rugby FC is a diservice to rugby clubs that at least they have talent. Allright enough of the Stoke bashing. In fairness, having watched them a couple of times, it looks like at least so far, that Tony Pulis is trying to actually get his side to play football. And the Tottenham Wannabes (what else do you call a club with Palacios, Woodgate and Crouch) do look they at least are trying to play football rather than slug it out on the pitch.

The Stoke tie is in my opinion a fair test to see if Arsenal have indeed turned the ship around or has it all been a false spring due to the level of competition they have played. Arsenal have won 5 of their last 6 matches in all competitions. So either things have settled or well, – you know. Taking a win against Stoke would signal to me that the turn around is in fact a reality and that things have moved in a positive direction. Additionally, a win would put Arsenal in a position in the table of no less than 7th and within 6 points of 4th – a very manageable feat.

The winning run hasn’t come easily. They’ve been drawn out, almost boring affiars. But they’ve been wins and as I’ve said before if this is how we win from now on, as long as it means a win, I am okay with it.  1-0 or 2-1 wins mean something to me, – we can win and we defecively are improving. Something, I think is happening albeit slowly.  The pairing of Mertesacker and Koscielny looks sound and will likely stay as such when Vermaelen comes back. Having three solid CBs is a luxury I’d like us to have. With Sagna out long-term and questions still about Jenkinson, seeing Koscielny in the RB position when Vermaelen comes back isn’t out of the realm of possibilities and isn’t as worrying to me as having the likes of Djourou in at RB.  Finally, a defence that was vilified (and rightly so) coming out of Old Trafford has only conceded 5 goals in 6 games – a telltale sign that the back four is in fact improving.

Our attack is what it is and frankly we are still creating chances. The problem comes with creatively creating chances that turn into sure fire goal attempts. Having Theo and Andrei Arshavin step up and actually contribute more would be a great benefit to the attack. Thomas Rosicky looks like he has finally remembered he can play this game. He has shown over the course of the last few games that he may be deserving of the boss’s decision to keep him. If he finds the back of the net and some of his creativity he definitely will help this club continue its upward swing.

I’m still up in the air about Aaron Ramsey. Sure he scored the winning goal to move Arsenal top of its Champion’s League group, but for most of the season he has just seemed like a bystander on the pitch without much to offer. It may be a little harsh but that’s the way I see it. Ramsey needs to seriously begin to step up or risk developing an Eduardo style reputation post injury.

This is a winnable match for the Gunners. For one, Stoke have had a difficult time coming off of Europa Cup fixtures. They’ve played well on the European stage but in the EPL matches that followed they’ve lost 4-0 to Sunderland and 2-0 to Swansea. Considering their rough patch versus Arsenal at the Emirates – three losses in their last three visits to the stadium, the table does look set for the Gunners. But we can not be too optimistic. While the ship does seem to have righted itself, this will be a tie that certainly tests that turnaround. In the end, as hard as matches against Stoke have been, Arsenal certainly have the class and firepower within their ranks to dispatch Tony Pulis’ Tottenham lite.

How the Match Should Play Out:

Goals have proved hard to come by in the first half for both clubs but more so for Stoke who only have one first half goal in the whole season, a PK versus Liverpool. Arsenal will look to get the home crowd riled up early, especially against Stoke. So look for Arsenal to press matters early. Looking to see how Stoke’s competitive legs are early on. Pulis hasn’t been on to park the bus lately, but his team still rely on physicality so while I expect more room for the Gunners to ply their trade it is going to be space that is hard to come by. With Robin Van Persie showing what he can do when he is health, I expect the Gunners to score early. If Theo or Andrei start, and they can perform up to their potential and skill level, then Arsenal could jump to a 2 point lead in the first half., Additionally, if Per Mertesacker can handle Wayne Rooney for Germany, he can certainly handle Peter Crouch for his new club team.

Players to Watch:

Arsenal. Per Mertesacker. They call him slow. I call him deliberate. Regardless of your opinion, he is starting to put in consistent performances in the back line, something that is only good for the Gunners. He doesn’t seem has frantic out there as he did when he first arrived.  The perfect antidote to a Rory Delap long throw into the box.

Stoke. Peter Crouch. Big man versus big man. The question is which one can come out on top. Crouch left for Stoke to get more playing time. He’s getting it. The question is what is doing with it when he gets it?

Projected Starting XI:

Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal: Vermaelen (ankle), Wilshere (ankle),  Sagna (ankle) Gibbs (stomach), Jenkinson (knee) Diaby (match fitness)

Stoke: Higginbotham (knee), Pennant (hamstring), Sidibe (match fitness),  Fuller (achilles,)

Leading Scorers:
Arsenal:  Van Persie 8 (5 league)

Stoke: Walters 2 (2 league)

Last Meeting (EPL):

Arsenal: 1

Stoke: 3

Goals For:

Arsenal (home): 1.5

Stoke (away): 0.5

Goals Against:
Arsenal (home): 0.8

Stoke: (away): 1.8

Last Five:
Arsenal: WLWLW

Stoke: WLDLW

Goal Difference:
Arsenal: -5

Stoke: -2

Match Official:
Referee: Lee Mason (Matches 4, R0 Y21)

Broadcast Information:
US: 0830 AM EST

UK: ????? 1330 BST

GAMEDAY CHAT: It’s Open!!!!!!

YAMA Prediction:
Arsenal: 3

Stoke: 1



  1. Derek Devivo - November 8, 2011 at 12:23

    great post.. i really enjoyed it

  2. David Eshenbaugh - October 23, 2011 at 20:32

    @stag133, Yeah, I’m all for fiscal responsibility, but it doesn’t work unless there are the same rules for all. Spend but do it wisely. There is not enough cash to buy it all and see what works like city or chelsea, but there’s no reason to buy like Swansea either.

    • ChicagoGooner - October 24, 2011 at 01:28

      @David Eshenbaugh,
      “there’s no reason to buy like Swansea either.”


      People forget that “fiscal responsibility” also means investing so as to maintain and/or increase revenues, i.e. qualifying for the CL and WINNING TROPHIES, not just for the prize money, but for merchandise sales and endorsement deals.

  3. ChicagoGooner - October 23, 2011 at 19:19

    City have arrived.

    Never thought I’d see the day where Red Nose would lose a match by 5 goals. Until now, I thought Man U were odds-on for the title, with City/Chelsea just behind, but City are clearly the favorites now.

    Some may say their accomplishments aren’t as valuable b/c they’ve been achieved more or less by simply spending, spending, and spending. Yes, I agree that it is unfair that some teams are able to spend so much more than others. But the reason I’m so annoyed and angry with Arsenal is that, while not possessing the wealth of City and Chelsea, we have the financial ability to spend with virtually anyone in the world besides those 2 and Real Madrid and yet we purposely don’t do it, the result of a stubborn manager and a GREEDY board of directors. What’s so egregious about Arsenal these past few seasons, and especially this one, is not really the multiple failures and implosions, but the un-necessity of it all, the lack of effort to make things any different. In fact, the opposite has been done, as we’ve plowed headstrong into this failed “strategy”, virtually ensuring more of the same.

    • ChicagoGooner - October 24, 2011 at 01:29

      Also notice that Sir Alex, much as I dislike him, didn’t blame anyone or anything for the loss. He simply said that it was his and the team’s worst day ever.

  4. George Kenya - October 23, 2011 at 17:36

    Football is a funny game with uniteds start someone asked me if they could implode like chelsea last year and I said why not the only difference is united have fergerson who will not ac accept it. City are clear favorites and would have to implode not to win it, I heard ferdinand had a shocker, 2 man team inited with rooney and vidic? Better than a one man team

  5. George - October 23, 2011 at 13:43

    Well, didnt watch it as it werent on the telly, but by all accounts were far too reliant on RVP, which is NOT good. But at least he’s in form, at least one player is. Also seems that Gervinho is on the same wavelength as Van Persie, which is nice to see.

    And as for City, WOAH, is all I can say. They WILL win the league this season, and although Money cannot buy you history, it can buy you glory unfortunately. It was hilarious to see United get absoloutely F*cked by City, payback for 8-2 in August I spose. With a better team than we had as well.

    No idea if we defended well, Im gonna guess a no, but Stoke is a much different experience from anything Mertesackers had before, itll take some getting used to. But apparently we were “like the old arsenal” going forward, which is nice. and all those pundits writing off Arsenal, were now 2 points behind ‘Pool and 3 behind the scum, so not bad

  6. stag133 - October 23, 2011 at 12:10

    Watched the Man U v Man City match.
    It was on Fox, Arsenal wasn’t.

    Glad we won 3-1.
    Saw the goal highlights. Not sure why RVP didn’t start, but he’s on fire, and teams up well with Gervinho.

    But the story is… MANCHESTER CITY.
    6-1 at Old Trafford.

    They are the best team in the league… humiliated United, like United humiliated Arsenal.
    They are THE BEST. They have ARRIVED. They WILL WIN trophy(s) this season… and they have to be favorites to win the league now… this without Tevez even playing for them.

    All I see, is Arsenal … David Platt on the bench as a coach.
    Patrick Vieira in the stands. They have Clichy, and Nasri, and Kolo… Yaya, who SHOULD have been at Arsenal 3 years ago… and they play like WE USED TO. Just so fast and so good on the break, like we used to be… they tore United to shreds.

    It was a joy to watch United get beat down.

    If they show Arsenal on replay, I will take a peek.

    Nice to be upper half of the table again. But I still can’t see us beating a Top 4 team… or even Tottenham… as long as we are within shouting distance when the window opens on JAN.1st… it will give me hope that we’ll actually DO SOMETHING OF NOTE, and bring in BIG TALENT.
    And I am sure Wenger and the board will shit all over that idea again.

    enjoy your Sunday.

    • David Eshenbaugh - October 23, 2011 at 12:39

      @stag133, Watched that game too. That is not the normal Man U. Other than Rooney, they simply gave up. 3 goals in the last 5 minutes!? Wow. I knew they wouldn’t keep their early form all year but what a difference. Nice to see the bullies get theirs.

      Man Citeh genuinely looks like they could go undefeated. They will probably slip up somewhere, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t.

      • stag133 - October 23, 2011 at 15:11

        @David Eshenbaugh, the thought of City going unbeaten crossed my mind as well… but my hope is that they lose interest with the CL matches and if they get ahead in the league by a fair number of points.
        I think an on form Chelsea could beat them at Stamford Bridge… and anyone, on any given day can give them a scare… nick a goal, and hold on…

        Seeing that United & Chelsea spend and spent MANY MILLION, I don’t see any difference in City doing the same to get what they want for a team.
        Its either you compete with them, or… shut the feck up and watch them win.

        The problem is, with Wenger, us winning a few games will keep him thinking we are competing for trophies, and that we can beat a team like United, Chelsea or City.

        • George - October 23, 2011 at 16:58

          I dont think we’ll have a chance with City or Chelsea, but United havent played that well really, 4th place is the best we can hope for, hopefully we’ll get it

  7. DaAdminGooner - October 23, 2011 at 09:14

    We’re gathering in Gameday Chat

  8. DaAdminGooner - October 23, 2011 at 08:55

    Arsenal Starting XI: Szczesny, Djourou, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Andre Santos, Song (c), Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Gervinho, Chamakh

    Subs: Rosicky, Van Persie, Benayoun, Arshavin, Park, Fabianski, Frimpong


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Founder, editor, writer, designer of When he’s not following the Arsenal,he’s busy coaching various age groups the right way to play the beautiful game

I am neurotic. Well, Arsenal tends to do that to you and due to this maddening love affair I have with this team across the sea, I rise and fall like everyday (given our current state some times more than 5 times a day.) I love this team and hope it comes through even slightly with this blog.

If I am not here blogging away, I am either working or writing coaching sessions. All in all, I'm loving it. UTA!

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