Stoke City Vs Arsenal: 3 Things to Watch For


Arsenal go up against Stoke City but will the Gunners perform well enough to stay on top?

Stadium: Britannia Stadium

Date: Jan 17 (EST)

If I make a prediction on this game based purely on what happened mid-week vs Liverpool then a lot can be said about all 11 players on the field. The first thing that comes to mind is Arsenal’s inability to close down space between the defense and midfield. Yet what also comes to mind is the continued improvement of wing players in the absence of Sanchez, and the considerable improvement to Giroud since the start of the season. However, this Sunday’s game will be a different challenge on its own, completely different from what we saw midweek.

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Prediction: Stoke City 0-2 Arsenal

1) Arsenal will score and control the game

Statistics from tell us that Stoke City have scored 24 goals and conceded 22 goals, while boasting a shot accuracy of 40%, an average pass accuracy of 80% and holding 50% of the possession per game. All those aren’t bad numbers. But it also means Arsenal shouldn’t be sitting back all game and waiting to counter. Arsenal should be playing a completely opposite game, where they dominate possession and create multiple shots.

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Even if Wenger doesn’t look for Arsenal to dominate through the wings, they must push higher and more aggressively to win back possession. Stoke City have created 178 chances to Arsenal’s 265 so far this year. If statistics can tell a story it is telling all of us that Arsenal should be and need to be winning games like this one.

2) Ozil will shine

It seems like forever since the last time Ozil had an assist. Every week we expect at least one from him. It’s like we take it for granted sometimes. Ozil’s lack of assists lately has been a result of rest and some great tactics on Liverpool’s part. Liverpool continued to push in the the middle of the field and forced Ozil to give up the ball much closer to midfield than he normally does.

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Ozil has never been impressive against close, tight defenses. As this game progresses, look for Stoke’s backline and midfield to slowly cause mental lapses and for Ozil to exploit the open space he finds. As shows, Ozil averages 39 long passes a game so far this season. Liverpool was able to force him to make 59 such passes in that game. Ozil’s need for space is one of the most important things to his success, and I believe Stoke City will give him the space he needs to shine and surgically take apart Stoke’s defense.

3) Arsenal will continue to give opponents space

Arsenal’s biggest problem for the past ten years has been the teams inability to close down opponents quick enough. Despite having a world class keeper, Arsenal still gives up goals because the midfield does not help close down defenders and restrict the space given to opponents. This is a problem when Arsenal play offensive minded midfielders but even more of a problem when Arsenal play slow midfielders. Of which we do both quite often!

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Look for Stoke to exploit those problems and give all of us some real scares early on and late into the game.