Arsenal vs Stoke City: Premier League Preview

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Arsenal vs Stoke City
Premier League, Emirates Stadium
Saturday 2 January 2013, 15:00 KO.

Team News

Despite losing Kieran Gibbs to injury in the midweek game against Liverpool, Arsenal may hand a debut to Nacho Monreal, after signing the Spanish left-back from Malaga on transfer deadline day.

Aaron Ramsey is in contention to be in the starting line-up for the second successive game, with Mikel Arteta and Francis Coquelin still out injured.

Despite signing two players ahead of Thursday's deadline, neither will feature in Stoke City's line-up against the Gunners, with goalkeeper Jack Butland returning to Birmingham City on loan, whilst Brek Shea is unable to play until he gets a visa.

Therefore, manager Tony Pulis is likely to name an unchanged side from the one that drew 2-2 against Wigan Athletic on Tuesday.

Wenger: Monreal will improve our defence

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is hoping that new signing Nacho Monreal can strengthen the Gunners' back-four that has shipped nearly 30 goals this season.

The Spanish left-back moves to the Emirates Stadium for a fee of around £10 million from La Liga side Malaga.

Wenger told BBC Sport: "We are delighted that Nacho Monreal has agreed to join us.

"Monreal will add quality to our squad and of course, to our defensive unit."

Arsenal are currently lacking a top-class left-back, after Gibbs limped off in the first half on Wednesday, whilst Brazilian full-back Andre Santos has constantly made blunders, with many fans growing restless with the former Fenerbahce defender.

With Monreal having played seven times for his country, many believe that anyone who can break into the Spanish national team must have plenty of talent.

Wenger added: "Monreal is a strong left-sided defender with good experience at both club and international level.

"He is a technically gifted player, a good crosser in the final third and strong in the air."

Whilst the 26-year-old will be cup-tied for the Champions League, with Arsenal facing Bayern Munich in the last 16, Monreal has signed a four-and-a-half year deal meaning he will be vital for the Gunners in the next few seasons and not just this campaign.


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