Preview: Arsenal v Stoke, team news, Perez to start + prediction

By on December 9, 2016


We will be looking to continue our excellent recent form when Arsenal entertain Stoke City at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday night’s impressive 4-1 win over Basel saw us top our Champions League group for the first time since 2011 after PSG were held to a shock 2-2 draw at home by Ludogorets.

However, it’s time to turn our attention back to the Premier League and we currently sit second in the table after beating West Ham 5-1 at the London Stadium last weekend.

That win ensured we took full advantage of Liverpool’s loss at Bournemouth but we still remain three points adrift of leaders Chelsea after they beat Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

Therefore, we desperately need a win tomorrow to keep the pressure on the Blues and we’ll leapfrog our London rivals in to first place if we can beat Stoke by two clear goals.

That may not be an easy task though as Mark Hughes’ side arrive at the Emirates having lost just one of their previous nine league games so we better not take them too lightly tomorrow.

Team news

Bellerin could return after recovering from an ankle injury that’s kept him out for a month. The defender had a late fitness test but I personally wouldn’t risk him unless he’s 100% fit as we have big games against Everton and Man City coming up next week.

Cazorla remains on the sidelines for another two months after undergoing surgery on his troublesome Achilles while Debuchy is also out with a hamstring injury.

Welbeck and Mertesacker are back in light training but still need a few weeks to get their fitness back up to speed before they’ll be considered for first team action.

Coquelin is back in the squad after missing the trip to Basel through suspension while the likes of Cech, Mustafi, Monreal, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain are pushing for recalls.

As for Stoke, they’ll be without Ryan Shawcross but Bruno Martins Indi is available while Marko Arnautovic is also expected to recover from a knock.

Preferred line-up

The big decision for Wenger is whether to start Perez following his hat-trick in midweek. I know the Spaniard still has some work to do on his all-round game but what kind of message does it send him if we drop him after he scores a hat-trick? For me, he has to start.

I’d also like to see Gibbs keep his place after another excellent performance at left-back which saw him register a hat-trick of assists while I’d stick with the Ramsey/Xhaka partnership in midfield.

This would be my team:


Stoke can certainly be a dangerous side on their day as they have the likes of Shaqiri and Arnautovic who can cause any team problems, however, our away record may be poor at the Britannia but we dominate at the Emirates as they’ve not beaten us away from home in 25 years.

We’ve seen plenty of ‘Wengerball’ in recent weeks and we’ve scored nine goals in the last two games alone so I’m confident we’ll beat Stoke tomorrow. I’m backing the boys to win 3-1 which will be enough to see us go top. Arsenal 3-1 Stoke

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