After narrowly edging past Leicester last week in one of the most dramatic opening day fixtures in the competition’s history, Arsenal now travel to the bet365 stadium to take on Stoke City in their 2nd fixture of the 2017/18 Premier league campaign.
A win here would see them win the first two games of a top-flight season for the first time in seven years.
Stoke City, on the other hand, come off a 1-0 loss to Everton in their opening fixture, as a debut goal for Wayne Rooney secured all three points for the Toffees. Stoke would certainly be keen on putting points on the board in their first home fixture of the season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
New signings Sead Kolasinac and Lacazette both played a key part in the seven goal thriller against Leicester, with the latter aiming to become the first Arsenal player to score in his first two Premier League appearances for the club.
Aaron Ramsey can also be expected to start alongside Xhaka in the center of the midfield after an impressive substitute appearance in the previous fixture.
Giroud’s physicality could come in handy in the latter stages of the game against the burly Stoke defence if the game gets too cagey.
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Stoke bolstered their attacking ranks with the loan signing of Jese Rodriguez from Paris Saint-Germain in midweek, meaning they now have more Champions League winners in their squad than any other side in the division.
With him, Choupo-Moting and Shaqiri in the front, Stoke have an exciting forward three certain to trouble the Arsenal defence.
TEAM NEWS AND PROBABLE XI:
Arsenal’s star forward Alexis Sanchez continues to miss out for the Gunners due to a niggling injury issue, though he is back in training and will most likely be in the trip to Liverpool on August 27.
Meanwhile, among backliners, Arsenal welcome back Per Mertesacker, Shkodran Mustafi and Francis Coquelin in the squad while Laurent Koscielny has one final match to serve on the suspension that carried over from last season.
Probable Starting XI: Cech; Mustafi, Mertesacker, Kolasinac; Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Welbeck, Ozil; Lacazette
Stephen Ireland and Ibrahim Affelay remain long term absentees for Stoke, while new recruits Jese and Choupo-Moting could start this weekend. Bruno Martins Indi could also be a feature after completing a move from Porto.
Probable Starting XI: Butland; Zouma, Shawcross, Cameron; Johnson, Allen, Fletcher, Pieters; Shaqiri, Jese, Choupo-Moting
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE TWO TEAMS:
While the Stoke away fixture isn’t one of Arsenal’s favourite fixtures of the season (winning only one of the last seven outings), the 4-3 win over Leicester saw an inspired Arsenal comeback, and fans and players would hope to carry forward this degree of belief and courage for this fixture as well as the rest of the season.
Since reverting to a three-man back line in April, the Gunners have won 11 of their 12 competitive fixtures, including nine at the tail end of last season to narrowly miss out on the top four and their first two of 2017-18 – a Community Shield win over Chelsea kicking things off a fortnight ago, and would look to carry on with the same with welcome additions of Mertesacker and Mustafi.
Lacazette would also look to score after an impressive debut, to carry some momentum into the trip to Liverpool.
Stoke, will certainly present a stern test for the Gunners. The Potters were in a 3-4-3 of their own against Everton and their potential back three of Kurt Zouma, Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi looks promising.
Jese and Choupu-Moting would also look to hit the ground running for their new club. Stoke would look to better their poor record against top teams in this fixture against the Gunners, with Mark Hughes certainly facing the fear of the axe after underwhelming campaigns for the Potters in the last few years.