Premier League Preview: Stoke City v Arsenal
By Football News
Title-chasing Arsenal will bid to overcome a poor record at the Britannia Stadium when they come up against Stoke City on Saturday.
Although Arsene Wenger's men have won seven of the 11 Premier League meetings between the two clubs, only one of those triumphs has come at Stoke, who boast home wins over Chelsea and Manchester United this season.
Arsenal head into this weekend's game just one point behind leaders Chelsea and know that overcoming a difficult away day would enhance their chances of lifting a first league title since 2004.
The north London club should head into the game in good spirits, having responded to a 2-0 UEFA Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich by thumping strugglers Sunderland 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium last weekend.
Wenger is now urging Arsenal to reach a consistent level in their remaining 11 league matches, believing the title race could well go down to the wire.
"Overall, it will be very tight," predicted Wenger.
"If you are consistent, you will have a good chance to win it."
Arsenal have been impressive on the road this season, collecting 26 points on their travels – a tally surpassed only by near neighbours Tottenham.
Stoke, however, boast a solid home record with 21 of their 27 league points coming at the Britannia.
Peter Crouch has four goals in his last six home outings and the former Tottenham striker has proved a thorn in Arsenal's side in the past, scoring seven goals against them in the Premier League.
Stoke are currently on a three-match winless run in the top flight and casting nervous glances at the relegation zone.
Hughes' men occupy 15th position, but have a chance to put further distance between themselves and the bottom three with 18th-placed Sunderland playing in the League Cup final this weekend.
Arsenal have doubts over the fitness of Nacho Monreal (foot) and Kieran Gibbs (hamstring), meaning Thomas Vermaelen could be asked to fill in at left-back following his recovery from a knee injury.
Mesut Ozil is available after missing the Sunderland victory, but Aaron Ramsey, who suffered a horrific broken leg at Stoke four years ago, is set to miss out again with a thigh problem.
Stoke are without winger Oussama Assaidi (knee), but central defender Robert Huth could be named among the substitutes after being absent for three months due to a knee issue.