Wenger: Arsenal don’t fear Stoke

Bad blood between the teams has been present ever since Potters captain Ryan Shawcross broke the leg of Gunners star Aaron Ramsey in 2010. Wenger also likened Stoke???s style of play under former boss Tony Pulis to rugby.

Shawcross stoked up the game on Thursday by claiming the home fans’ “dislike” of Arsenal will lead to a “tasty game” at the Britannia Stadium. Wenger feels the game could do without such comments.

“I think that (Shawcross??? claim) is exaggerated,??? the 65-year-old said. ???It is a football game, it is not a hate game.

???Stoke is always a tough and very committed place to go, but we prepare ourselves to be at the level of our commitment and dictate the way we want to play. The most important thing is to not forget how we play our game.

“They have a little bit of a different style (under new manager Mark Hughes), but against us it is always a very committed game anyway.”

Wenger added: “We are in a job where you have risks. The physical risk is part of our job, we accept that.

“What you want is to go into a game with everybody being 100 per cent committed, but fair. After, you accept that any accident can happen.

“You do not want to have any suspicions before the match starts, that is not very good.”

Arsenal have a few injury worries before their trip to the Britannia. Nacho Monreal suffered ankle ligament damage early on against the Saints and could be out for a few weeks. Centre-back Laurent Koscielny will also be assessed on his inflamed Achilles.

Wenger is also worried about the fitness levels of forward Alexis Sanchez, claiming the Chilean is in the ???red zone??? and must be carefully managed over the hectic Christmas schedule.

“Unfortunately you never know how far you can push (a player). We are not scientific enough to predict that completely, but he has a great recovery potential,” said Wenger.

“He recovers very quickly, is always sharp and wants to play.

“Alexis has a huge desire, no complex, and has a fighting attitude that means even when he misses something it doesn’t affect him.

“He is very mobile, very determined and he has the sense to be in the right place in the box.”

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