With a comprehensive victory in the back pocket of the Gunners, Arsenal head to Stoke with the desire of reclaiming the top spot in the Premier League. After beating Sunderland 4-1 last weekend, Arsenal want to keep the momentum going with more tough fixtures on the horizon. With Arsene Wenger probably rotating a few “regulars” out for this game, we could see a more seasoned team on the pitch this coming weekend. Here are a few players that could make a major impact on this away game.
Lukas Podolski will most likely get the start out on the left wing for the Gunners this coming Saturday. With the injuries he has sustained this year, manager Arsene Wenger has been careful in choosing the German international. With an away game to Stoke, and an F.A Cup game as well as a Champions league game on the horizon, Wenger will most likely go with the German to continue building his strength. For Podolski, this could be an opportunity to prove to the manager that his name should not be left off the lineup card in the upcoming weeks. With the firepower Podolski brings to the table and the ability, and willingness, to shoot from all angles this could be a big game for the German.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks to start opposite Podolski on the right wing where he has had great success over the past few years. February was a fantastic month for the young England international, scoring three goals (one a great rebound goal against Liverpool in the FA Cup), and causing defenses all around the game headaches. “The Ox” will need to continue his February run of form this weekend in the first days of March. One of his greatest strengths is utilizing his pace and agility to get in behind the Stoke defense down the right hand flank which in turn opens up options in the middle of the pitch for the likes of Giroud and Podolski to finish.
The Arsenal defense will be a rather mix-and-match group of out of position players covering at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday. With the likes of everyday regulars, Nacho Monreal, Kieran Gibbs, and Laurent Koscielny all nursing injuries the back four could look something like: Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker, and Carl Jenkinson. This back four does not feel too far out of the ordinary, however, you have at least one player playing out of their “natural” position. Now, if Koscielny is able to compete on Saturday, Wegner has said he could play Vermaelen out of position on the left. Even with this group of unlikely characters completing the backline, Arsenal have shown a resilience and a way of coming together even in the unlikeliest of circumstances (Bayern game last year).
With Arsenal looking ahead to a hectic March, they will need to not over-think this away match at Stoke. With Podolski vying for a starting position this game, it could be the catalyst needed to get his game on track to finish the season strong. “The Ox’s” game has come alive in the past month; hopefully, we will be able to witness more of his creativity and maturity this weekend. Even with a jumbled back four Arsenal should be able to go to Stoke and come home victorious. Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Stoke.