Arsenal welcome Stoke City to the Emirates, for a Premier League weekend fixture. The reverse fixture, at the Britannia Stadium, played in August, resulted in a goalless draw.
Where to Watch
Kick-off is set for 3pm GMT. Catch highlights of the game on Match of the Day, on BBC One and BBC One HD at 10.30pm GMT.
Arsenal played out a 2-2 draw at the Emirates, in the midweek fixture against Liverpool. And those 90 minutes showed just why the Gunners have struggled this season, with a poor first half cancelled by a brilliant second period.
The hosts were leading with goals from Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson but Arsene Wenger's men responded through Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott. The rescued point means Arsenal remain in sixth, with a four point gap to north London rivals Tottenham; Spurs occupy fourth and the final Champions League qualifying position.
The Gunners' recent league form has been patchy. The club have won only once in the last five and that run includes costly defeats to Premier League champions Manchester City and Chelsea. And Wenger will be aware a similarly disappointing February, coupled with fans' disappointment at the lack of transfer activity in January, could seriously endanger his future at the club and the chances of making Europe's elite competition next year.
The good news for fans, though, is that the Gunners' home form has been good. Six wins in 12 games (only three defeats), 32 goals scored and only 18 conceded means Tony Pulis' men, who have only scored eight goals in 12 away games, should have a hard Saturday evening ahead.
Stoke have had a reasonably good season so far but that is in real danger of unraveling at light speed. The Potters have not won a Premier League game their surprise 3-1 defeat of Liverpool on Boxing Day - a run of five games that have seen 15 goals conceded and only six scored. And only one of those six was away from home.
They were on course to change that trend, with goals from Ryan Shawcross and Peter Crouch giving them a 2-0 lead, at home, against Wigan. Unfortunately, the Latics struck back with James McArthur and Franco Di Santo, meaning Stoke remain in 10th place, with Sunderland, Fulham, West Ham United and Norwich City breathing down their necks.
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): D W W L W
- Last Result: Arsenal 2 - 2 Liverpool
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): D L L W L
- Last Result: Stoke City 2 - 2 Wigan Athletic
Arsenal will be boosted by the return of Spaniard Mikel Arteta. The ex-Everton player is the metronome that keeps the Gunners' midfield ticking over. Sadly though, he is expected to start from the bench. Meanwhile, his compatriot and ex-Malaga left-back Nacho Monreal is expected to make his Premier League debut after signing on deadline day; England international Kieran Gibbs has been ruled out for at least six weeks. Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianksi remains sidelined with an ankle problem.
Probable Line-Up: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal; Wilshere, Ramsey; Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud
Pulis has a full squad to choose from, with the exception of his summer signing, Brek Shea. The American is still waiting for his work permit. Ex-Spurs and Liverpool forward Peter Crouch is likely to lead Stoke's attacking line this weekend. The Potters did also young England goalkeeper Jack Butland but the 19-year-old international has been loaned back to Championship side Birmingham City.
Probable Line-Up: Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Cameron; Walters, Whelan, N'Zonzi, Adam, Etherington; Crouch
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