Stoke City v Arsenal, Sat 27 Feb 2010

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Eduardo could return to the Arsenal squad for the Barclays Premier League match at Stoke.

The Croatia international is back in training after recovering from a hamstring problem and Gunners boss Arsene Wenger will assess the striker's fitness.

William Gallas (calf), Abou Diaby (knee) and Andrey Arshavin (hamstring) are all still out injured, while Wenger will have to decide whether Sol Campbell or Mikael Silvestre partners Thomas Vermaelen in central defence.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger insists there is more to Stoke than sheer physicality and Rory Delap's deadly throw-ins.

While the Gunners play arguably the most attractive football in the Barclays Premier League, Stoke's style can best be described as direct.

Wenger's men have come unstuck in their only two visits to the Britannia Stadium, losing 3-1 in this season's FA Cup and 2-1 in the league last term, with Delap's missiles from the touchline causing massive damage in both matches.

But Wenger believes Stoke have improved as a footballing outfit during their second season back in the top flight and have more strings to their bow, despite statistics showing otherwise.

"Stoke have scored 15 goals from set-pieces, 14 of them at home," noted Wenger, whose team are third in the league heading into the weekend, six points adrift of leaders Chelsea.

"Of those 14, a big part is down to their long throw-ins but they are a team that plays football as well. I have seen them recently in games and they have a good mixture in their play.

"Stoke are a good football-playing team. We'll have to beat them on the ground and play at a good pace if we are to come through."

Stoke will bid to extend their unbeaten run to 12 matches in all competitions.

They will have both Abdoulaye Faye and Andy Wilkinson back from suspensions for a clash with a club Stoke have beaten on their last two visits to the Potteries, the most recent being the 3-1 FA Cup fourth-round victory for Tony Pulis' men last month.

Stoke are waiting on fitness checks for Matthew Etherington (knee) and Danny Higginbotham (back) before naming their side.

Pulis knows his side face a fierce test from Arsenal as they continue their drive for the Barclays Premier League title, a quest the Stoke boss believes is very possible, saying: "They will fancy themselves now, seeing the points dropped by their rivals.

"We have a very tough game with Arsenal now, with a great manager and fantastic young players, and they have a real squeak at the title.

"Arsene Wenger will select his best team and they have had a lovely free week preparing while we have been playing and winning down at Portsmouth, and going to extra-time against Manchester City in the FA Cup. We have been hard at it.

"All that spirit and togetherness will be needed in abundance against Arsenal. We put our lads in a hotel straight after the cup tie in midweek, it has given them time to recover and also keeps them together as a group, and that's important for us.

"Now it's up and at `em. We have beaten Arsenal in their last two visits here, but that means nothing, we will have to run a lot further than Arsenal to get anything. We have done that in the last couple of games here against them and we will have to do it again because they are better footballers.

"We will be tested, for sure. We have Abdoulaye Faye and Andy Wilkinson back from suspension, and we will need fresh legs for this one so there will be other changes, too."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Andrey Arshavin
Stoke City
Danny Higginbotham
Thomas Vermaelen
Mikael Silvestre
Premier League
Matthew Etherington
Rory Delap
Sol Campbell
Andy Wilkinson
Abdoulaye Faye
Vassiriki Abou Diaby
William Gallas

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