Arsenal faces a quick turnaround after Wednesday’s impressive win, and travel to the always-formidable Britannia Stadium to face Stoke City.
Arsenal and Stoke have a borderline rivalry between each other, the encounters have always been feisty. Gunners will remember this rivalry mostly because of the injury occurred to Aaron Ramsey in 2008 in this matchup. This topic is always written to death before this match up and Ramsey must be looking to ignore this match day headline.
Arsene Wenger will have some decisions to make regarding resting a few players. Although it’s not the ideal opportunity, Alexis Sanchez should be rested, considering he has looked fatigued for the better part of 3 weeks and has played in every possible match for both club and country.
Kieran Gibbs could also come into the side, allowing Nacho Monreal to heal up a bit after injuring himself last weekend and playing during the week.
Wenger will be wary to tinker with his squad too much, seeing as they just regained some form and have put in a string of three impressive performances.
Here is Arsenal’s probable starting lineup:
Goalkeeper – Martinez
Wojciech Szczesny is still out injured and hasn’t been in training all week. This isn’t cause for concern currently, considering Martinez’s excellent form.
Right Back – Chambers
Calum Chambers has put in a string of consistent performances and he will continue to do so against Stoke City. His crosses against Southampton were excellent.
Center Back – Mertesacker & Koscielny
Laurent Koscielny was phenomenal against Southampton, and Arsenal clearly missed him.
This pairing is starting to become a position of strength again for Arsenal, with Per Mertesackers performances improving as well.
Left Back – Gibbs
Monreal started on Wednesday after coming off injured over the weekend. Gibbs came off injured in that same game but didn’t play during the week allowing him to rest up for this game.
It’s important that both players stay healthy as they have been performing well all year and Arsenal may need Monreal at center back again if depending on injuries and the upcoming transfer window.
Defensive Mid – Flamini
Mathieu Flamini’s performances have been of a high quality these past two weeks.
He does not posses the same passing ability as Mikel Arteta but he organizes the team well and keeps everyone in check.
Center Mid – Ramsey
We are starting to slowly see the Ramsey of last year. We saw signs of it against Southampton, where he put in his most complete performance of the year.
He is still snatching at chances but he seems to be playing with less stress on his mind. He is passing the ball well, and tracking back to defend better. His runs are as dangerous as they have been in a while. Come January we may see Ramsey in top form.
Attacking Mid – Cazorla
Santi Cazorla put in other good performance during the week. He was always looking to create and was dangerous doing so.
His defensive effort is under appreciated, as he hustles back quick and looks to break fast when available to do so.
Wide Right – Alexis
Alexis shouldn’t play this weekend, but he will because Wenger is not the best at rotating his squad. It’s concerning as Alexis has always had a winter break and he won’t this year.
Ideally Lukas Podolski would be given a start here or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, if he can shake of a knock to the knee.
Podolski looked shaper against Southampton the last ten minutes. His lack of tracking back is still frustrating, but this could be a game where you could risk that. Either way, Alexis will most likely start, as Wenger will persist with a winning lineup.
Wide Left – Welbeck
Danny Welbeck has looked good in this position. He creates from the left, and is able to cut inside fast. He is still getting plenty of chances from this position as well.
If not for a stunning save by Fraser Forster on Wednesday, Welbeck would have been on the score sheet.
Striker – Giroud
Olivier Giroud rejuvenated Arsenal when he came on Wednesday. He was a thorn in Southampton’s back four. He absorbed space, freeing the players around him, and constantly looked to link up quickly with his teammates, creating chances for Welbeck and ultimately the goal that Alexis converted.
Via – Lineup Builder