With the madness of the January transfer window now thankfully behind us it’s time to concentrate on football again as Arsenal welcome Stoke City the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Not only was January a disappointment in terms of new signings, but it was also a tough month in terms of Premier League victories with the Gunners only picking up one win in five games. The run has left us in sixth place in the table but thankfully we’re still only four points off fourth-placed Tottenham so it all to play for during the second half of the season.
Our latest game saw us come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Liverpool on Wednesday, and while it was a great comeback from the lads, we have to cut out the defensive errors and in the end we had the chances to win the game.
Stoke were on the other end of things in midweek as they surrendered a 2-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Wigan which extended their winless run to five games. While the Potters style of play has caused us problems in the past, it’s usually away from home and I’m confident we’ll see an Arsenal win this weekend.
Deadline day saw the surprise arrival of Spanish international full-back Nacho Monreal who was signed from Malaga. He comes straight into the squad and I hope Arsene gives him his debut at left-back as Kieran Gibbs is out for up to six weeks with a thigh strain and Andre Santos just isn’t an option in my opinion.
The Brazilian has been hopeless in recent weeks and is well off the pace. A home game in which we should have plenty of possession will be a decent introduction for Monreal so I say lets throw him in. He honestly can’t do any worse than Santos.
The other option is to play Vermaelen at left-back but the Belgian has a knock and will be assessed before the game. Per Mertesacker was poor against Liverpool but I think he should retain his place as his height will be important on set pieces and to deal with Peter Crouch.
Mikel Arteta returns to the squad after missing three weeks with a calf strain but he may start from the bench as Arsene Wenger won’t rush him back, and Abou Diaby is likely to come in. Aaron Ramsey has done well in recent games in the middle but again Diaby’s height and power will be important against the Potters. Francis Coquelin is close to fitness after a hamstring problem but this game comes too soon for him.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis has no fresh injury concerns for the game. His only absentee is Marc Wilson who’s out with a broken leg.
Peter Crouch will look to continue his excellent goal-scoring record against us after seeing a potential move to QPR fall through. Pulis signed Brek Shea on deadline day but he’s not in contention as he looks to improve his fitness before he’s considered ready for Premier League football.
Despite our patchy home form this season, I’m confident of all three points this weekend. Stoke have a formidable home record but are very average on the road and if we can just cut out the silly mistakes at the back and play from the first whistle, the three points should be ours.
To see if my optimism was well placed, I headed over to Betegy.com and their prediction software has crunched the numbers and they support my view that we’ll win this game. They predict there is a massive 46% of an Arsenal win, 36% of a draw with a Stoke win at just 18%. Betegy are so confident of an Arsenal victory, they have selected it as their ‘recommended bet of the week’:
An Arsenal win is currently 4/9 with William Hill but if betting on the exact score is more your thing, Betegy data predicts there is a 33% chance the Gunners will win 3-1 which is currently an 11/1 shot with William Hill.
Why not head over to Betegy and see what all the fuss is about? It’s free to join and you’ll receive free and accurate predictions for games throughout Europe every week. They have an excellent success rate so far so why not give it a try?
What would your line up be and what’s your score prediction for the game? Get involved in the comments section below.