Preview: Stoke City v Arsenal

Arsenal head north on Saturday for their second match of the Premier League season against Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium.

Premier League
18 August 2017
Kick-off 18:30 UK time
Venue: Bet365 Stadium

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM            MATCHES  WIN   DRAW   LOSS

Stoke City       94     25     21     48

Arsenal           94      48     21    25

Previous encounter:

Arsenal 1-4 Stoke City – 13/05/17 (Premier League)

Stoke City goalscorer: P. Crouch (67′)

Arsenal goalscorers: O. Giroud  (42′) M. Ozil (55′) A. Sanchez (76′) O. Giroud (80′)

Players to watch:

For the Gunners, the man to keep your eye on is new striker Alexandre Lacazette, who opened his account after just two minutes into his Premier League debut against Leicester City.

Similarly for Stoke, all eyes will be on their new striking import Jese Rodriguez. Having struggled to make the cut at Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, the Spaniard is now on loan from the French side. Hughes called him an “an elite level player” and said that “Jese is at a club where he can express himself and I think we can give him a platform to excite”.

Team form and manager quotes:

The Gunners didn’t make life easy for themselves in last week’s opener against the Foxes when they battled to a 4-3 win. They will be looking for a bit more defensive solidity this time out.

The Potters, meanwhile, were beaten 1-0 on opening day thanks to Wayne Rooney’s goal for Everton. Having lost 3-1 and 4-1 against the Gunners last season, Stoke are seemingly unsure how to stop the Londoners from scoring.

“Arsenal are a good side who always look like they can create and take chances,” said Stoke manager Mark Hughes.

“We always have difficult starts and that is how it’s been since we’ve been in the Premier League. Other teams have it at different times.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger reflected on their 4-1 win the last time they visited the Potteries, which broke a pattern of six matches there without a win.

“We had a convincing win there and that should inspire us,” Wenger said. “Traditionally it’s always been a difficult place to go for everybody, but of course we continue in a strong way our start to the season.

“Stoke have a good record at home against many teams and I’m convinced that if we play our game, we have a good chance of winning.”

Team news:

In team news, Arsenal are expecting Shkodran Mustafi, Francis Coquelin, and Per Mertesacker to be available, while Wenger said that Jack Wilshere is “back and available” but “needs games”.

Alexis Sanchez will miss out with an ankle strain. Wenger said of the Chilean forward that “his recovery is going very well…but we have to be cautious.”

For Stoke, Hughes said that they are “OK in terms of injuries”.

“The only one is Julien Ngoy, who has pulled his thigh,” Hughes said. “It’s a nasty one and he could be out for five to six weeks.”

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