Arsenal take on a resilient Stoke City side tomorrow at the Britannia Stadium, with Arsene Wenger sure to be praying the fixture isn’t as combative as it has been in the past.
The Gunners head into the game having overcome a tricky mid-week tie against Southampton, and another win could see them rise as high as third place if certain other results go their way.
What the game means
The disappointing loss to Manchester United is now but a mere blotch on the record as Wenger seeks to recover the morale which had been earned through an impressive five-game unbeaten run prior to the defeat against Swansea City.
In Stoke Wenger will expect a far different sort of challenge than the one Ronald Koeman’s Saints posed, with The Potters known for their rough and ready physical approach. Injuries have already threatened to derail the Gunners’ plans for this campaign, and one or two more knocks to key players could leave them on the brink of a crisis.
The defensive third
In goal Wenger can be expected to place his faith once more in Damian Martinez, with Wojciech Szczesny not yet fully recovered from injury and David Ospina also out. With the manager having already confirmed that Nacho Monreal will be missing - compiling woes brought about by the struggles of Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs - the back line remains shrouded in uncertainty, though Per Mertesacker is certain to start.
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Moving into the midfield there’s not so many issues, with Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil obviously both unavailable due to long-term injury complaints. The likes of Aaron Ramsey, Mathieu Flamini and star man Alexis Sanchez should all feature, though the blow sustained by Theo Walcott is unfortunate.
Leading the line
Up top Olivier Giroud could well get the not to lead the line again once more, having completed his recovery from the injury sustained at the start of the campaign. The France international was impressive against the Saints and only Fraser Forster prevented him from adding to his seasonal goal tally.
Danny Welbeck, in this instance could start in more of a supporting role, with his work rate having been a staple of his Emirates career to date.
With that in mind we've gone for:
Martinez; Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Chambers; Flamini, Ramsey, Sanchez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck; Giroud.
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