Saturday, 27 February 2010

Arsenal vs. Stoke match preview

Today's match against Stoke was always likely to be important, but with Chelsea losing 4-2 at home to Man Citeh, it becomes even more so.

Arsene Wenger's comment after Arsenal's defeat against Chelsea in November that "Chelsea can be beaten" seems to have inspired several of Chelsea's opponents since.

There has never been much doubt in my mind that Chelsea and ManUre would drop points before the end of the season; the question was whether they would drop enough for Arsenal to catch them and whether Arsenal could hold their nerve and take advantage. We should be closer to answering the latter after this evening's match against Stoke.

Stoke away is never an easy game, but Arsenal being in the unusual position of not having played in midweek while their opponents did (and indeed played extra time) should make things a little easier. Chelsea losing will undoudbtedly put extra pressure on Arsenal's players. The question is whether they allow it to get to them or use it pressure in a positive way to drive them on.

For a change, there are no new injuries to report today (Gallas, Arshavin and Diaby are still out as well as long term absentees van Persie, Djourou and Gibbs) and we even have Eduardo coming back - expect him to be on the bench. So the selection problems for Arsene Wenge are of the nice kind: Will Ramsey keep his place ahead of Denilson, will Eboue keep his place ahead of Sagna, will Campbell come back in place of Silvestre and which two out of three will play from Nasri, Walcott and Rosicky?

The line-up I expect to see is:

Sagna, Campbell,Vermaelen, Clichy
Fabregas, Song, Denilson
Rosicky, Bendtner, Nasri

The other option that Arsene Wenger might go with is to play Eboue, who is in great form, on the right of atack to give us a bit more defensive stability against a Stoke team who can be dangerous at home.

I'm not sure I'm looking forward to this one but I'll have a big smile on my face if we keep our nerves and come away with the three points.

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