Football

Arsenal v Stoke: Predicted XI

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Arsenal v Stoke is always a charged affair, and the clash at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday will be no different. 

For the Gunners, the game against Stoke is their first outing since the 2-0 defeat against Southampton on New Year's Day and boss Arsene Wenger will be desperate to get back to winning ways after that abject showing.

Competition

They now sit in sixth place in the Premier League behind rivals Tottenham, and will target a win to get them right back on track. Wenger will have to do just that without the services of Danny Welbeck for the game as the striker is still struggling with a thigh complaint.

Olivier Giroud is back from suspension however and will replace the England international in attack. 

Injuries

There could be a return for Mesut Ozil after three months out of action with a knee injury, although he is likely to start on the bench and be eased in. Wenger conceded earlier today that he is yet to make his mind up over what role the German international will play in Sunday's game.

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Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini are also back in contention and likely to feature after overcoming injuries. Of course the fact that Ramsey is likely to play against Stoke will conjure memories of his horrific injury in 2010, and the home crowd will no doubt be making Ryan Shawcross aware of their feelings towards him.

Wenger claimed today that Stoke always seem to raise their game to play Arsenal and while that is undoubtedly true, the Gunners will have to deal with a different kind of beast now Mark Hughes is in charge.

Edge

The Potters maintain their physical edge through players like Peter Crouch and Charles N'Zonzi, but now have technical players like Bojan Krcic who can do damage in other ways - as was shown in their 3-2 win earlier this season.

Indeed, Stoke have won their last two against Wenger's men last season under Hughes, and Arsenal have won just three of their last seven meetings. 

Arsenal Predicted XI

Sczcesny, Debuchy, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Flamini, Sanchez, Giroud, Cazorla

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Topics:
Arsenal
Premier League
Stoke City
Football

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