Arsenal v Stoke City Match Preview

Published 09/12/16 

Arsenal can move top of the league for 24 hours at least if they can claim a two goal victory at home to Stoke on Saturday.

The free-scoring Gunners found the net nine times in three days against West Ham and Basel and will be confident of extending their unbeaten league run to 14 games against Mark Hughes’ side.

Though Stoke have proven formidable opponents for Arsenal at the Britannia it has been 35 years since the Potters have departed North London with three points in a league game.

Last time these two met at the Emirates Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud scored in a 2-0 win, a repeat of that result this weekend and Arsenal will be top of the league for the first time since October 22.

TEAM NEWS

Hector Bellerin could make a return to the Arsenal side well ahead of schedule after suffering an ankle injury on November 6. It had been feared he could miss the trip to Manchester City next week but the Spaniard will have a late fitness test before Arsene Wenger decides whether to start him on Saturday.

However with Gabriel looking a solid deputy at right-back Wenger may well choose to play it safe with Bellerin and hold him back until Tuesday’s trip to Everton.

Francis Coquelin is available after serving a one match ban in Europe and will likely compete with Aaron Ramsey for a midfield slot alongside Granit Xhaka, who has started Arsenal’s last three Premier League and Champions League games.

Hughes has as many as eight injury concerns in his Stoke side and Marko Arnautovic (hip), Bruno Martins Indi (facial) and Ryan Shawcross (calf) will all need late fitness tests whilst Geoff Cameron is a major doubt with a knee injury.

Jack Butland, Ibrahim Afellay, Phil Bardsley and Stephen Ireland will all be unavailable for Stoke, who have won their last two despite the heavy burden of player absences.

POSSIBLE LINEUPS

Arsenal: Cech; Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Walcott, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Sanchez

Stoke: Grant; Johnson, Muniesa, Martins-Indi, Pieters; Adam, Imbula, Allen; Shaqiri, Walters, Arnautovic

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