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Preview: Stoke v Arsenal, Sanchez back, Mustafi to start + prediction

By on August 18, 2017

alexis sanchez arsenal

Arsenal need to tighten up at the back when we head to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday evening for our Premier League clash with Stoke City.

Our patched-up back three let in three cheap goals during our thrilling 4-3 victory over Leicester City last Friday night but we can’t rely on scoring four goals each week to win games.

Thankfully we should have some defenders returning tomorrow but we know Stoke have the ability to put us under pressure at home so we need to be on our game defensively.

The good news is we looked excellent going forward against Leicester and created plenty of chances so hopefully that can continue tomorrow as I’d love to see us replicate last year’s 4-1 win at the Britannia.

Stoke narrowly lost their opening game 1-0 away to Everton but no doubt there will be a hostile atmosphere waiting for the players tomorrow as the Potters prepare for their first home game of the new season.

Team News

Sanchez has been in full training this week so I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the bench tomorrow, despite Wenger saying on Wednesday the attacker would be short of fitness this weekend.

Mertesacker is available again after recovering from a nasty cut above his eye while Mustafi should return to the defence after building up his fitness in training this week but Koscielny remains suspended.

Ramsey came off the bench to score a vital equaliser against the Foxes so he should be fit to start in midfield after recovering from a calf injury while Coquelin is expected to return to the bench.

Wilshere will continue his rehabilitation from a fractured leg with another run-out for the U23’s on Monday, however, he won’t be involved with the first team along with Cazorla – who’s still out with an Achilles problem.

Gabriel has completed his move to Valencia so he’s no longer an Arsenal player meaning Chambers could find himself back in favour.

As for Stoke, they’ll be without forward Julien Ngoy due to a thigh injury while Ibrahim Afellay and Stephen Ireland are also still unavailable but Jesse could make his debut following his loan move from PSG.

Preferred line-up

I’d like to see Mustafi come back in to the defence with Holding dropping out while Mertesacker and Monreal should make up the back three in the absence of Koscielny.

That would see Kolasinac move to the left wing-back position and Oxlade-Chamberlain dropping out while Ramsey should start alongside Xhaka in the middle of the park.

Welbeck caused some problem last time out so he deserves to keep his place but I’ll be hoping for a lot more from Ozil as he was poor against Leicester. Lacazette should keep his place up front with Giroud used as an impact sub.

This would be my team:

Prediction

Stoke is never an easy place to go and last season’s win was our first at the Britannia is seven attempts so this could be a tough game. However, I don’t ‘fear’ going to Stoke like I used to when they were managed by Tony Pulis as Mark Hughes actually tries to make them play football [not rugby]. If we can tighten things up at the back then I’m confident of bringing home the three points. Stoke 1-2 Arsenal

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