Arsenal's late charge for an unlikely place in the Premier League's top four continues when they travel to the Bet365 Stadium to take on Stoke City on Saturday.
Date: 14 May 2017
Game week 37
Kick-off: 00:30 (HKT)
Venue: Bet365 Stadium
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Stoke 93 25 21 47
Arsenal 93 47 21 25
Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City 10/12/2016 (Premier League)
Arsenal goalscorers: T. Walcott (42'), M. Ozil (49'), A. Iwobi (75')
Stoke goalscorer: C. Adam (29')
Players to watch:
Striker Marko Arnautovic will undoubtedly be the key player for the Potters on Saturday. The Austrian hitman leads both the goalscoring and assist charts for the club.
It is also imperative Stoke make a quick start to the match against an Arsenal side growing in confidence late in the season and Arnautovic has opened the scoring for the hosts more often than anyone else in the squad this season.
Alexis Sanchez is obviously important for Arsenal as he has twice as many goals as both Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud this term, but it could be the midfield industry of Aaron Ramsey that has a bigger impact on this game.
The Welsh midfielder has suffered a torrid campaign of injuries but is looking back to his best self over the last couple of fixtures and will be an integral part of the build up in getting the ball to Sanchez in scoring positions.
"We have to show character again. We know we have to play to win the games, so let’s keep the focus"https://t.co/hr4ESLZykA
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 12, 2017
Team form and manager quotes:
Stoke have won just two of their last 10 Premier League fixtures, but are safe from the threat of relegation in 13th place on the standings, but manager Mark Hughes disagrees with the sentiment they have under-performed this season.
"Clubs ahead of us and ones in and around us, the difference is resources and finances, and strikers that have the ability to score 20 plus goals-a-season," he said.
"Without fault the top end have those type of players and those type of resources. We will always do our best and give everything we have got. I think that's the reason we have raised expectations. We are safe from relegation and before I came that was the be all and end all and I've tried to raise expectations."
Wenger, on the other hand, was delighted with his side's performance in consecutive 2-0 wins over Manchester United and Southampton and wants to see more of the same from his squad as they chase a place in next season's Champions League.
"We have to show the character again," he said. "We have to play to win the games. Let's keep the focus on the way we want to play, on our team spirit. The team is together and fights and is ready for it."
Some good news for Hughes is that he has a virtually fully fit squad to choose from with both Saido Berahino and Jonathan Walters returning to training this week.
Wenger will likely have to make do without both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Granit Xhaka although both face late fitness tests on Friday.