Arsenal and Stoke City will resumer their rivalry this Sunday.

Four events that created the Premier League's least likely rivalry

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Much has changed for Stoke City since Mark Hughes succeeded Tony Pullis however, a trip to the Brittania on Sunday remains a daunting task for Arsene Wenger's Arsenal.

Though their style of football is far more similar than before, Sunday's game will reignite the Premier league's least likely rivalry.

Here are four events that built that rivalry.


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1. Rory Delap's cannon

In their first meeting following the Potter's promotion into the Premier League, manager Pullis introduced to many, the effectiveness of his very unique plan for scoring goals.

Capitalising on Wenger's years of insistence that Manuel Almunia was good enough for Arsenal, Stoke scored both of their goals in a 2-1 win, from Delap throw-ins. These aerial bombs created mayhem in the Gunners' box, leaving the Arsenal players frustrated with Robin van Persie subsequently sent off.

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2. Aaron Ramsey's nightmare injury

This was undoubtedly the most crucial factor in turning up the heat for this fixture. During a rare Arsenal victory at the Britannia, 19-year-old Aaron Ramsey sustained a horrific broken leg following a heavy Ryan Shawcross challenge.

Though the Welsh midfielder was back playing football nine months later, he has since stated that it took him 'years' to get over the mental trauma of the incident. After the game Wenger branded the tackle "unacceptable" and "horrendous" whilst stating "it is just not football for me" in a prelude of what was to come. 

Stoke's English defender Ryan Shawcross

3. Playing rugby

Evidently angered by Ramsey's injury, later that year Wenger complained publically about Stoke's physicality against goalkeepers, after an incident again involving Shawcross across Arsenal's bitter rivals Tottenham. 

"You cannot say it is football anymore. It is more rugby on the goalkeepers than football. When you see the way Shawcross kicked Heurelho Gomes, how Robert Huth pushed Gomes in the goal, you cannot say that is football anymore.”

Due to Arsenal's reputation for playing free-flowing football in contrast to Stoke's aggressive, yet effective tactics, a rivalry had developed in just two years.

Arsenal v Newcastle United - Premier League

4. Arsenal's bogey team

Though, with the addition of players such as Bojan and Xherdan Shaqiri, Hughes has done much to alter Stoke's style, they have remained a real banana skin for Arsenal.

Since the Potters' promotion in 2008, only Chelsea and Manchester United have taken more points from their home games against the Gunners, with Stoke claiming an impressive 14 points from their seven league games.

Throughout the 12 years since they last won the title, Arsenal have often been undone by their inability to win away games in imposing atmospheres and it doesn't come much more daunting than a trip to the Britannia. 

Stoke have already beaten Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea this season and will more than fancy their chances of continuing that run on Sunday.  

Who do you think will come out on top this Sunday? Have your say in the comment box below!

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Thierry Henry
Arsene Wenger
Premier League
Stoke City

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