Stoke perspective: Matt Meir, Potters Online.
The history and rivalry between the Potters and Gunners stretches much further back than recent memory, and still manages to gain the media’s attention despite Stoke being seen as a ‘lesser’ team.
We head into our first home Premier League game of the season in what can only be described as an awful run of form. Last weekend’s late equaliser from the penalty spot means that we've won just once in our last 13 league games. The Gunners failed to get on the scoresheet last weekend, and will of course be aiming to recover this weekend. However, Arsenal struggle in the intimidating environment of the Britannia.
Despite a relatively quiet summer transfer window so far, the Stoke fans have the home debuts of American international Geoff Cameron and last week’s goalscorer Michael Kightly to look forward to. Add into the mix the revitalised Wilson Palacios, and an attacking yet typically hard-working Pulis midfield is a distinct possibility.
There is a quiet air of anticipation growing around the Britannia Stadium this season; new signings, a seemingly new approach to the transfer market, and a more attacking open-minded approach to tactics may just make this season a little bit more interesting in Stoke-on-Trent. Just don’t expect a weakened atmosphere.
Prediction: Stoke City 2-1 Arsenal
Over 2.5 goals at 2.00, Stoke 2-1 at 12.50, both teams to score at 1.75.
Arsenal perspective: James McNicholas, Gunnerblog.
Stoke is always a difficult game for Arsenal, and I don’t expect this year to be any different. For the first time in this fixture, Arsenal are able to call upon six foot six German centre-half Per Mertesacker, who is the kind of player we need for this test. We’ll also face the challenge of coping without Alex Song, meaning that a huge responsibility will be placed on Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta.
Further ahead, I expect Arsene Wenger to continue with Lukas Podolski in the central striking role, but he may shift playmaker Santi Cazorla in to a wide role and bolster midfield with a more sturdy player like Francis Coquelin or Aaron Ramsey, who always plays with a point to prove on this ground. It’s possible the manager will look to draft in Olivier Giroud, who could provide help defensively at set pieces as well as some variation in our attacking trio.
After a disappointing opening day draw with Sunderland, three points would be a real fillip to Arsenal, ahead of a week in which there is important business to do both on and off the pitch.
Prediction: Stoke City 1-1 Arsenal.
The draw at 3.35, under 2.5 goals at 1.75, Lukas Podolski to score first at 6.50.