Premier League preview: Arsenal v Stoke

Arsenal have little time to get over their shock 1-1 FA Cup draw with Leyton Orient on Sunday, with a Premier League tussle with Stoke on Wednesday.

Originally scheduled for December 18 at the Emirates, persistent snow saw the match postponed.

With a replay against Orient in the offing, the club will contest the Carling Cup final on February 27 and are still involved in the Champions League, meaning Arsene Wenger’s side will be busy in coming weeks.

Arsenal are second in the league, just four points behind leaders Manchester United, and will be desperate for three points to bridge the gap and keep the pressure on Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

There is no love lost between Wenger and Stoke boss Tony Pulis, with the Frenchman a critic of what he described as Stoke’s ‘rugby’ tactics against goalkeepers.

Wenger’s comments strained relations already frosty following last season’s challenge by Ryan Shawcross on Aaron Ramsey that left the midfielder with a broken leg.

Stoke are in 10th place, after being in contention for a European place earlier in the season, but with just eight points separating them from bottom-placed Wolves – and with three losses from their past four games – Premier League survival could soon become a pressing issue for Pulis’ side.

The signing of striker John Carew on loan from Aston Villa has given the squad a new dimension, while the only concern Pulis has from the treatment room is a hamstring injury to winger Matthew Etherington.

Wenger has more pressing injury concerns ahead of the fixture, with Thomas Vermaelen, Lukasz Fabianski and Emmanuel Frimpong all unavailable, but with 10 first-team players rested for the Orient game, the Gunners should be fit and firing for Wednesday night’s match.

 


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