Arsenal really detest visits to the Britannia Stadium, but if they manage to pull off a win against Stoke on Saturday – and Chelsea drop points at Fulham – the Gunners’ attitude toward the trip will surely be changed (watch live online on NBC Sports Live Extra at 10 a.m. ET).
With a bit of luck, by the end of Saturday the visitors could reclaim their spot at the top of the table, but games at Stoke can be a bit rough. The Potters have taken points from both Manchester sides as well as Chelsea at the Britannia this season, and will be looking to add another notch to their bedpost by making sure Arsenal don’t walk away with a win. And with the bottom of the table as tight as it is this season, Stoke will likely consider even a point as a good result.
But the hosts will need to make sure they don’t meet the same fate as Sunderland, who fell 4-1 to the Gunners last weekend. Olivier Giroud grabbed two and Tomáš Rosický added a third in the first half, with Laurent Koscielny adding the fourth early in the second. Stoke, meanwhile, fell 1-0 at Manchester City last week, thanks to a strike from Yaya Touré.
Mesut Özil is back, but Arsène Wenger is keeping him on the bench to start the match. Kieran Gibbs replaces the injured Nacho Monreal, but other than the forced change, Arsenal keep the same lineup that so comprehensively beat Sunderland last weekend.
The hosts bring Steven N’Zonzi back into the starting lineup, with Peter Odemwingie left out with a slight injury. Peter Crouch will lead the attack for Stoke.
Stoke City: Begović; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Walters, N’Zonzi, Whelan, Adam, Arnautović; Crouch
Subs: Sorensen, Muniesa, Palacios, Guidetti, Etherington, Wilkinson, Ireland
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Rosicky, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Flamini, Özil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gnabry, Sanogo