Episode 2 – Away to Stoke
What an opening weekend in the Premier League! We saw the Arsenal take down Leicester in what could have been the game of the weekend. The champions Chelsea lost to Burnley 3-2, following two red cards from captain Gary Cahill and ex-Arsenal player Cesc Fabregas (that was fantastic). And newly promoted Huddersfield Town made a statement in their 3-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace.
Stoke are coming off a 1-0 loss to Everton which saw Wayne Rooney score on his return to Goodison Park. There wasn’t much to write home about regarding their play. They are without playmaker Marko Arnautovic, who became West Ham United’s largest signing this summer. However, playing away to Stoke has never been easy for the Gunners, winning just once in our last seven games played there.
The Gunners will once again be without Alexis Sanchez who is believed to be just short for the trip to Stoke. According to the boss, he should be available for the game against Liverpool next weekend.
The real question mark for this week’s starting XI is does Olivier Giroud start? Olivier Giroud came on against Leicester last weekend, scoring the winning goal in the final few minutes. It all depends on the game plan. If Arsenal want to come out quickly against Stoke, Lacazette would be the man up top, with Ozil and Welbeck playing in behind. However, there is the option of putting Giroud up top with Ozil and Lacazette playing in behind him. That would still give us some speed on the outside (especially considering that Kolasinac and Bellerin would be the wing backs) while giving us a large presence in the box.
On the defensive side, it looks like we’ll see Mertesacker and Mustafi in, along with Nacho Monreal as the center backs. Kolasinac should be in on the left side with Bellerin on the right flank.
Xhaka will keep in place in the center of the park. He had an up and down game against Leicester. He saw his one pass from the midfield get picked off by Marc Albrighton, which led to Vardy’s go-ahead goal in the 30th minute. However, Xhaka finished two assists, putting in a lovely ball to Ramsey in the 82nd minute, which tied the game at 3-3 and then supplying the corner for Giroud in the 85th. With Aaron Ramsey looking fit, we may see him playing in alongside Xhaka.
Projected Starting XI
Cech; Mustafi, Mertesacker, Monreal; Bellerin, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Ramsey; Lacazette, Ozil, Giroud
According to Arsenal.com, Stoke will be in their home red and white striped kits and Arsenal will be wearing their new black and pink third kits.