Thoughts On The Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Stoke

I don’t know if I can ever dislike a football team any more than I do Stoke City. Fat Sam’s teams run them close as do Birmingham. But none of those teams can quite reach the level of Arsenal’s next opponents. Dislike is actually a really mild word for my feelings towards Tony Pulis and his bunch of thugs. But I’ll try to keep my feelings out of this and try to focus on the football/rugby.

Van Persie and Koscielny have been ruled out of this one. I guess both were unavailable for the FA Cup tie as well but it never came up because of the rotation. That does explain the inclusion of Miquel. More importantly, we are likely to see a centre-back pairing of Squillaci and Djourou against Stoke. These two haven’t played together that often but have done well in the few games that they’ve played. I also expect Sagna to keep his place while Clichy and Szczesny should come back into the starting eleven.

This game will be the first time the young Pole comes up against players who will foul him at every opportunity. It will be intriguing to see how he handles that. If he can dominate his box in this game, something that will be needed given the strengths of the opposition, he will have passed his toughest test yet, even tougher than Barcelona as this one will involve illegal challenges. Luckily for him this is a home game and Stoke don’t do that well away from home. Even then I expect the youngster to be quite busy, especially early on.

The midfield should see the first choice trio, Song-Cesc-Wilshere, back together. Up front Nasri and Walcott should have a different striker between them. I’d go for Bendtner ahead of Chamakh as the Dane has already played and done well against these thugs. His physical presence will be an asset in both boxes.

Expected starting line-up,

Szczesny – Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy – Song, Cesc, Wilshere – Walcott, Bendtner, Nasri

Tactically, the initial exchanges will be extremely important. The Gunners have to go out on the pitch and show that they are ready for the battle. The visitors will look for any signs of weakness, and if the Arsenal players aren’t fully committed in the 50-50 challenges or individual battles, it will give them a boost.

Le Boss stressed on the importance of dominating possession in such a game and it’s not difficult to see why.

Stoke will try to play the long balls down the channels in an effort to win free-kicks, corners, and throws in the attacking areas. Arsenal have to keep them pinned back and minimize the number of men they can get forward.

Stoke do have one genuine quality and that is their defensive organization and work ethic. It will not be easy for Arsenal to open them up. Van Persie will be dearly missed in this game but I’m hoping Bendtner will deliver in a central role as he did in the away game last season. Some good quality crosses from Sagna and Walcott will certainly help.

Arsene might pick Chamakh but it will be a mistake in my opinion.

There will be more than usual grappling in the penalty box. I can only hope the Arsenal players will not lose concentration as the ball is flying around. Conceding a soft goal to an unmarked player at the back post is most infuriating. The smaller players can do their part while defending set-pieces if they are alert to the knock-ons and loose balls.

I’d also like to see the central defenders take charge of the balls being hoofed down the wings. They should reach them ahead of the strikers and should try to keep possession under pressure. Hoofing it up-field or kicking it out will only motivate the opposition.

I’m not sure whether Lee Mason, who was supposed to officiate the original fixture in Dec, will be the one to take charge of this game or not. I will be worried if it is Mason.

Arsenal have done fairly well at home against Stoke who are not good travellers but I expect this game to be close with no more than 1 goal separating the sides. A bigger win will be a mighty impressive performance from the Gunners and will only be possible if Cesc has a brilliant game. I don’t want to dwell on the possibility of a loss but it is possible if Arsenal don’t turn up with the attitude of defeating 12/13 men.

More than the result though, I’d like to see all the players come through with their limbs intact.

26 Responses to Thoughts On The Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Stoke

  1. Willy young says:

    The Dane needs to grab his chance

    We need Ramsey back for the Orient replay

    Every game now is must win to keep the quad dream alive huge pressure huge test but let’s get the crowd behind us

  2. cjuillet says:

    my biggest worry is that we will have a major injury before Carling cup/Barcelona games to get through.

  3. Jonathan says:

    We showed some great maturity to pull out the match after the Ramsey incident last year so im hoping we continue our “ASSAULT” on them by putting in atleast 2

  4. Dianjuh says:

    As always Desi, your thoughts n tactics spot on! Wenger shud hav u as his assistant shud Pat cal it a day 😉 But why a one-goal win? In this kind of game 1 goal wl get us nervous in th closin stages n put as under pressure!! I would like 2 c the players get an early goal 2 calm thngs a bit and another b4 halftime! From 60th min Fab n walcot n Nasri need 2 be rested 4 our trophy quest ths wkend, Chamakh, Arshavin cn cme in n finish the Job. Bt yes, I agree..3points n Limbs intact wl do jus fine!! COYG!

  5. It’s actually inhuman not to resent TP and his band of rugby men, I’m kidding of course but I feel they demonstrate everything wrong with the beautiful game of football.
    I totally agree with your line-up, but not with the scoreline prediction.
    I say we thrash ’em silly, 4-1 to The Arsenal.

  6. Trennon says:

    We need to get the first goal and the second goal in order to entice them into chasing the game in the second half. If Koz was playing I’d be feeling a lot more comfortable defending a 1 goal lead, but not with Squid.

    Walcott could be our most important player tonight. If he can get running at their left back, Bendtner could bag a couple of games. He doesn’t have the guile of RVP so Theo will be his biggest asset. I actually think Arsenal are going to be up for this. Cesc has shown some incredible passion recently and I’m sure he’ll be reminding the team about Aaron and the silly comments made by Penis about Wenger.

    I agree it’ll be tight in the opening stages but I think we’ll win this comfortably in the end. 4-0 to the Gunners, to the Red and White and the only REAL football club in London!!

  7. koye says:

    I believe we’d win…quite comfortably too. As long as we concentrate in defence and we carve em up as usual in attack, we’ll play this game and won’t even miss laurent and robin.

  8. RILWAN M B says:

    My only problem is squillaci

  9. Oladimeji says:

    I think we will win this game comfortably,but i am more concern about their tackles.fabregas, nasri and others need 2 b careful.

  10. Greg says:

    Now now Desi, Stoke are a part of life’s rich tapestry.

    I have a soft spot for Rory Delap and his siege engine-style, ball-hurling feats of strength.

    As long as Stoke stay on their feet in the tackle, their forwards don’t try to pull down the scrums and there are no high tackles from goons like Shawcross, I’m happy to play them and happy to beat them.

    • Finnish Hit says:

      re: Rory Delap. The long throws are ok, part of the sport. It’s the time-waste when he runs from the other part of the pitch and ESPECIALLY the way he always uses the towels in their home games that make me totally outraged.

      In fact, I suggest that if we are winning by a decent margin at the end, all Arsenal throw-ins will be done only after a very thoughtful towel-polish, rain or shine. 🙂

      After that protest, maybe the FA will at last do something about the rules.

    • desigunner says:

      I don’t have a problem with long throws. I appreciate Keepers starting counter attacks with good long throws and can happily accept the strategy being used on throw-ins.

      What I don’t like is the deliberate fouling that goes on in the penalty box. If you watch closely, and this is something Wenger highlighted early on in the season, some Stoke players pull the goalkeeper back or push him as he is coming out. At times they dangle a leg to trip him when he is moving across the goal to collect the ball.

      In the crowd these things can be missed and often refs just don’t call fouls consistently enough. The working theory seems to be that if you do it often enough the ref will miss a few.

      These tactics and their unnecessary physical aggression have made them intolerable for me.

  11. firefly says:

    we should have some faith with Squids at the back for us don’t yall think? Sezzyboy will do the clean up in goal… not to worry.

  12. Arsenal4 says:

    Not a big fan of Stoke as well, problem is nothing much illegal from the way the play (except the time wasting on drying up the ball). If we’re talking about small club mentality, Stoke will be the case.

    I feel we need to score 2 early goals to avoid any nerve from long throw (never mind long ball). I saw the highlights of their FA cup games against some championship team … i can’t believe they won it via delap’s throws as well …

    Not that i am concerned that Arsenal can’t win this .. it’s just the annoying to meet a team that abuse the system for the sake of it … very small minded indeed

  13. Aaela says:

    We will actually Put 3 in their net.

    mark my word!

    Gunners, please pray for fitness of our boys

  14. Arsenal4 says:

    Also, agree with the last point. Let’s hope everyone stay intact after the game 🙂

  15. D says:

    I expect the central striker to drop deep more often in this game as his “presence” in the box won’t be as influential with Shawcross et al. in there. Hence, we’re likely to offer very less aerial threat, so like you, I’d prefer Bendtner too as his link up play is quite good and the man is not afraid to shoot (with his feet). If Walcott makes a those diagonal runs more often we’re guaranteed to get a pen (Mason or no Mason!) as the numbskull neanderthals aren’t that deft when it comes to timing their challenges (god bless Ramsey!). In this game Song HAS to stay back. I’m afraid that his mazy maverick runs may prove to be fatal should the thugs get one of their hoofed up balls right. Now, Cesc, he is gonna be kicked pretty badly today, so with Song staying back Wilshere should stick close to Cesc for those quick one twos. It’s gonna be a nervy game so buckle up gooners!

    I’ll be happy with a 0-0 with no injuries but again if our defense doesn’t fail and if Theo and Nasri step up we could get a goal. But as you say, the bigger the margin the happier we’ll are!

  16. Adeyemi Ralph says:

    Squallaci is the only problem for Arsenal. The man is not good enough for arsenal fc.

  17. Hong_gunner says:

    I’m not a big fan of stats, but this game brings a few interesting of those:
    1. Stoke are the only team in the top 5 divisions of the country to have not conceded more than 2 goals in a game this season.
    2. Their central defender, who was out with injury for a chunk of games, in Robert Huth, is their top scorer so far.
    3. Their only player, who has an ‘ability’ to play the ball on the floor, in Ethrington, may miss this game.
    4. Stoke has scored just 12 goals on their travels this season, but they have conceded just 19 on the road. So, what we can be assured is they won’t let us create that many chances.

    Stats aside, I think it is very well understood what this game will offer. An initial burst from Stoke to try unsettle our rhythm, go into a shell from there on, and try and make every 50-50 challenge look like a 60-40. If we are incisive enough, we’ll create atleast two chances which will be converted to help us seal the win.
    However, the talking point today will be Shawcross. It’s the first time we face him ever since the day he got sent off against us. I wish and hope everyone of us in the stands will be pumped up for this and abuse the moron so he wishes he was never born. I doubt that’ll happen, but I’ll play my part.
    2-0 win with no players injured, I’ll take it. thank you, goodnight.

  18. Finnish Hit says:

    The referee will be Peter Walton. I hope we will not get freeMason this season again. usually has quite good stats and pre-data for matches.

    • Finnish Hit says:

      Oh my, it seems that Walton was on board when Ramsey got Shawcrossed. He should have whistled the fouls in the previous 20 seconds (as throughout the match) and the leg break wouldn’t have happened. Instead Stoke thought that anything could be done.

    • desigunner says:

      Thanks for the info. I generally check on Guardian but will check bbc as well from now on. Walton is certainly an old school ref and we could be in for a rough night. Hopefully the home advantage will make a difference.

  19. Rav says:

    Aaron Ramsey set for Arsenal loan return check the beeb for the update


    3-1 win today come on your gunners

  20. States says:

    We really dont need chamakh even on the bench 4 the hole season, before arsene sell bendtner let him sell chamakh first because he is the main reason why arsenal fail to win the orient game. He has a lot of opportunity to show he is a striker but he turns back and pass like he is a midfielder, he was the best in france last season bt nw the worst in england. So please arsene bendtner is the sub for van persie, he proofs him self over chamakh in the city game wen he came off d bench two touches n a goal to seal d points if chamakh plays against barca they wil give us 10 becuz if u dnt score ur opponent gives u preasure n chamakh wil not score..

  21. Claver says:

    I hate Stoke FC. Their Chairman has made no overtures to Arsenal and clearly Tony Pulis thinks their team is better behaved than Arsenal.

    For sure Allardyce got under Wenger’s skin at times. But even he (Allardyce) at some point started playing football. Particularly at Blackburn, he seemed to have ‘turned over a new leaf’.

    Tony Pulis is totally unapologetic, he even thinks Arsene shouldn’t say a bad word about them!

    However, if I were the people of Stoke, I’d carefully consider the legacy being built at the club.

    How is it someone like Holloway at Blackpool seems to do such a sterling job with less in the way of money?

    Managers like Hodgson (never should have gone to the political cauldron that is Liverpool), Holloway, McCarthy, Moyes, these seem to build teams that can actually play football.

  22. […] Thoughts On The Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Stoke I don’t know if I can ever dislike a football team any more than I do Stoke City. Fat Sam’s teams run them close as […] […]

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