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Stoke City vs Arsenal – Match preview, likely line-ups and score prediction

Jake Jackman

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Stoke

Arsenal are facing a difficult trip to Stoke City in their first away game of the season. During recent campaigns, the Gunners haven’t had fond memories when playing at the Bet365 Stadium. They managed to win there last season, but it was their first win in the fixture in six attempts. This isn’t a typical Potters’ team, as they have lost the aggressive edge that caused others to fear them. Arsene Wenger will be hopeful of a win to banish the Stoke woes once and for all.

Mark Hughes has been underwhelming in his post as Stoke manager for the last couple of seasons and it is a surprise that he remains at the club. The Premier League has undergone a tactical revolution and he has been left behind. His shortcomings have been shown time and time again by his more superior colleagues. The club signed Jese Rodriguez this week and the attacker arrives with a big reputation. It is a signing that has become typical of the club and he is going to be another that frustrates more often than he excites.

The defence has to be the main area that Arsenal have to focus on. It was their weakness during the opening weekend and Stoke will look to put them under as much pressure as possible. The Premier League debuts of Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette were encouraging, but the club needs to do more business before the window closes if they want to challenge for the title. Their lack of squad depth was evident last week and that need to remedy that.

Recent form

Stoke City suffered a disappointing defeat on opening day away to Everton. It was a fixture that they were expected to lose, but their lack of attacking threat was a concern. They looked defensively solid as they often are under Hughes, which was encouraging. However, if they are to have a good season, they need to offer more in the opposition half.

The opening day of the Premier League season was great to watch as seven goals went in at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal managed to get the win, but they were far from convincing. It was the same performances that we have seen countless times before from Wenger’s side. Nothing has changed. The fighting spirit was impressive, but they need to be more dominant in matches such as this one if they are to challenge at the top of the league.

Predicted line-ups

Stoke are likely to name an unchanged team. They were well organised at Everton and they will hope that the home advantage will help them offer more in attack.

Shkodran Mustafi could come back into the team, which would allow Sead Kolasinac to move to left wing-back, which will suit him more. Aaron Ramsey did enough in the last game to earn a start.

Team news

Stephen Ireland and Ibrahim Afellay are the only two Stoke players that will miss the game on Saturday. Hughes will be boosted by the availability of new signing Jese Rodriguez. The Spaniard could be in line for his debut.

Alexis Sanchez won’t feature as he continues to struggle with a knock. Shkodran Mustafi and Per Mertesacker will be available, providing a timely boost to the Arsenal defence. Jack Wilshere and Francis Coquelin could also be involved as they continue their recoveries.

Score prediction: Stoke City 1-2 Arsenal

The Gunners don’t have a reliable defence, which means that they are not likely to keep a clean sheet on Saturday. Stoke may not have the best attack, but they should have enough to find the back of the net on at least one occasion. In years gone by, this would have been a tricky game for Arsenal, but the current Potters’ side won’t scare them. An away win is likely considering the growing gap between the two sides. The pressure on Hughes will be turned up another notch.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Arsenal

Criticism of Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson unfair? stats suggest he’s England’s best option

The midfielder came under scrutiny for his latest performance.

Jamie Watts

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England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time header ensured England started the tournament with maximum points, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of points in Volograd.

A promising opening 20 minutes was encored by ponderous and slow football in the second half, after the team began looking seemingly affected by Tunisia’s equaliser.

The additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added impetus and purpose to the attack late on.

But prior to that, England struggled in pursuit of a second, and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson came under fire for what was deemed to be a lack of creativity.

Photo: Getty Images

Many fans were questioning the omission of Jack Wilshere from England duties, as Gareth Southgate opted for the Liverpool man as the regular in central midfield. But last season’s statistics show some maybe being preemptive in wanting to replace the 28-year-old this World Cup.

Squawka stats (below) show that the Liverpool man was superior to both Eric Dier and Jack Wilshere in all aspects of midfield play in the Premier League last term, suggesting he could very well be the right man to continue starting for the Three Lions.

The former Sunderland man bested his two counterparts for number of forward passes, average pass length, key passes, tackles won, aerial duels won and chances created (all per 90 minutes), which sheds some light on why he’s a regular in Southgate’s team.

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Arsenal

Fans criticise Jack Wilshere omission after Jordan Henderson’s ‘toothless’ England performance

Gareth Southgate’s bold decision is already being questioned.

Jamie Watts

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England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time winner ensured England started the tournament with a victory, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of the points in Volgograd.

After a promising opening 20 minutes, England’s shortcomings in front of goal were punished as Tunisia were awarded a penalty – using VAR – and Ferjani Sassi equalised from the spot, heaping pressure on Gareth Southgate’s outfit to score a second.

But creativity was scarce from the Three Lions, in what was a stressful and frustrating half to watch for the nation.

Photo: Getty Images

And Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has come under fire for his performance in the heart of the midfield, with many believing that Arsenal‘s Jack Wilshere would have been more creative and imaginative in central midfield, if he wasn’t omitted from international duties this earlier this summer.

Henderson frequently opted for possession over creativity and was guilty of taking too many touches in the midfield yesterday, particularly in the second half and the speed of play was directly affected as a result.

Here’s the Twitter reaction:

By no means did the 28-year-old have an awful game, but his choice of pass was often safe and as a result England lacked impetus and drive in the second-half, until the additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added a spark in the final third.

Gareth Southgate will often opt for control in central midfield against tougher opposition – with Belgium on the horizon – but against the likes of Tunisia and Panama, the side can afford to take more risks and be more inventive, and the decision to leave Wilshere at home is already being questioned after just one game.

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Crystal Palace fans thrilled with reports of Jack Wilshere interest

Crystal Palace fans are keen on the reported deal.

Jamie Watts

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Crystal Palace are keen on landing long-serving Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, if the 26-year-old leaves the Emirates this summer, according to reports from Evening Standard.

A move to Selhurst Park would reunite Wilshere with Roy Hodgson, his former England manager and a coach, whose belief in the Gunner is undeniable.

Hodgson displayed his admiration for the midfielder, after taking him the 2016 Euros despite him barely playing all season and he believes he could add the perfect balance to the Eagles’ midfield alongside enforcer Luka Milivojevic.

Photo: Getty Images

Wilshere was left out of the England squad for the World Cup this summer due to his diminished role with Arsenal, and revealed his “disappointment” on the day through his official Twitter account.

It now appears he will prioritise making himself essential at both club and international level next season, and that is unlikely with Arsenal.

Having improved his fitness, which has widely been considered his primary weakness, making 38 appearances in all competitions last season, Wilshere could become a serious asset at Selhurst Park, and fans have taken to Twitter to discuss the reports.

Here’s the reaction:

Yohan Cabaye’s situation is currently unresolved at Selhurst Park, with reports suggesting that the 32-year-old could potentially move to Ligue 1 giants Marseille this summer, and the Frenchman would need replacing.

Having joined in 2015 for £10 million from French champions Paris Saint Germain, the veteran midfielder played a key role in the Eagles relegation survival, acting as the catalyst for control and mobility in the centre of the park.

Photo: Getty Images

And Wilshere would play a similar role. His agility and vision are reminiscent of Cabaye, but he has far more left in the tank.

It is safe to say the Englishman would be a real coup for Hodgson at Palace this summer and the fans agree its a deal the club should make happen.

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