Last night was absolute madness. Having slaughtered numerous chickens in the city, and downed like litres of alcohol, with some ‘desi’ stuff to go with it, I finally woke up post afternoon today. Won as well as lost quite a bit of money in poker, but knowing my friends, I don’t think they would be in a hurry to pay up.
Well, to beat the hangover, we have got some Premier League action in store today. Arsenal host Stoke City, and will hope to continue their recent run of form, which has seen them win 6 games out of 6, as well as extend their away winning streak to 10.
Stoke haven’t picked up a single point in their previous 5 visits to the Emirates, losing on every occasion. Of course, they now aren’t managed by that baseball cap wielding Tony Pulis, but by another extremely irritable figure, Mark Hughes.
Stoke recovered from losing 1-0 at Anfield on the opening day to pick up wins against Crystal Palace and West Ham, a 3-1 win over Walsall in the Capitol One Cup, before holding Manchester City to a goalless draw. Stoke had a pretty quiet summer, buying only Austrian striker Marko Arnautovic from Werder Bremen for £2 million, and Dutch international centre back Erik Pieters from PSV Eindhoven for £3 million, while also completing loan moves for Stephen Ireland from Aston Villa and Oussama Assaidi from Liverpool.
However, they also saw a lot of players leaving, with Michael Owen, Rory Delap, Mathew Upson, Dean Whithead and Mamady Sidibe either retiring or leaving for greener pastures.
Arsenal’s good run of form can partially be attributed to the personal form of Aaron Ramsey, who looks like a man on a mission. Having suffered that horrific leg injury against today’s opponents, almost 3 years back, his recent run of form has been testimony to his hard work and honesty.
His game has seen a holistic improvement. Not only has he displayed his versatility in adjusting to various roles but his gameplay has seen an increase of level. There are rarely any mistakes made on tackles, his passing has improved leaps and bounds and he is scoring goals for fun. What’s more, he seems to have formed a strong midfield partnership with Wilshere. This can only bode well for Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger was full of praise for his young Welsh prodigy.
He has a great spirit and he has an obsession – he wants always to be better,There is a basic rule in the game that if you have a big injury before the age of 20 you come back and redevelop completely normally,I was not too worried but you never know how deep the impact is psychologically. He had a little resistance to go into the fights for a long, long time – but now he is over it.He had a difficult period in the middle of last season when people became impatient with him and he lost confidence,Sometimes you give the players a little rest, they can rebuild that confidence in their game and come back stronger and that is what happened to him.I always thought he would score goals if he improved his technical quality because you always saw him in good positions in the box.
The signing of Mesut Ozil, has in general lifted the club. The addition of Mathieu Flamini, while less talked about has probably been equally important. The vocal French midfielder has been unflinching on the tackle and a constant loudmouth when it comes to barking orders at the defence.
Right, team news then. Mikel Arteta has returned to the squad, but is expected to only start from the bench. The other player returning from injury, er, is, er, Niklas Bendtner. There are murmurs of him making the bench as well. However, the medical staff at the club still have their hands full, with Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, Tomas Rosicky, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Yaya Sanogo and Abou Diaby still nursing injuries.
Stoke have some injury concerns of their own, with Marc Muniesa, Glenn Whelan and Jamie Ness all out. Arnautovic is expected to start for the Potters. This is how I expect the sides to lineup.
Mesut Ozil will be making his home debut today, and the Emirates will definitely be abuzz everytime the German gets the ball. However, knowing Stoke, they will take every opportunity to hackle the German midfielder. Steven N’Zonzi and Charlie Adam have formed a solid midfield for Stoke.
The Potters will be hard to break down, and Arsenal will require some magic from the shoes of Ozil and Wilshere to create chances for the front two.
Enjoy the game wherever you are!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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