After winning for their tenth successive game away from home, in Marseille on Wednesday, Arsenal return to domestic action as they welcome Mark Hughes’ Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium in the lunch time kickoff this Sunday.
The Gunners have indeed turned the tide on its head. After suffering a humiliating 3-1 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa on the opening day, it seemed like the Gunners were bracing for yet another frustrating campaign with pessimism from all corners hitting its nadir.
However, the acquisition of Mesut Ozil on the transfer deadline day from Real Madrid has brought a fresh lease of life at the Emirates and this has been reflected on their on-pitch performances as well. Since that defeat against Villa the Gunners have won six matches on the trot in all competitions and could reach the top of the Premier League, should they win today.
Stoke City have been punching above their weight and are currently lying in the 9th place, sharing same points with both the Manchester giants.
However, they need to improve their away record, especially against Arsenal. The Potters have lost all five previous visits to Arsenal in the Premier League while in 14 meetings between Wenger and Hughes; the Frenchman holds the edge with eight wins to the Welshman’s four.
Arsenal camp will be massively boosted by the return of Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard could play for the firsttime this season after recovering from a thigh injury. However, the Gunners are missing the services of Santi Cazorla, Yaya Sanogo, Abou Diaby, Tomas Rosicky, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski and none of them will be available for today’s fixture.
Ozil will make his home debut for the Gunners while Thomas Vermaelen, Carl Jenkinson and Nacho Monreal are all pushing for starts at the back.
For Stoke City, the controversial forward Marco Arnautovic could make his full Stoke debut after impressing as a substitute against Manchester City in the last match.
Arsenal: Szczensy, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscienly, Monreal, Walcott, Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Giroud.
Stoke City: Begovic; Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Pieters; Walters, N’Zonzi, Wilson, Adam, Etherington; Jones.