Arsenal Vs Stoke City: Preview

Saturday, December 18, 2010
Wojciech Szczesny could continue in goal for Arsenal against Stoke if Lukasz Fabianski fails to recover from a hip problem.

The Gunners have no fresh injury concerns following Monday's 1-0 defeat at Barclays Premier League title rivals Manchester United, but striker Nicklas Bendtner is likely to miss the match at Emirates Stadium as he awaits the birth of his child.

Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott are all pressing for a start after coming off the bench at Old Trafford, but goalkeeper Manuel Almunia will be out for at least another three weeks after he suffered an ankle injury.

Midfielder Abou Diaby (ankle) is back in full training, while centre-half Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles) could return in January.

Defiant manager Arsene Wenger maintains his team will "still have our say" in the destiny of the title.

The Gunners were knocked off top spot following Monday's reverse.

However, should this weekend's fixtures survive the latest bout of Arctic conditions which are set to sweep across Britain, Arsenal could find themselves back at the summit come full-time if they beat Stoke.

Given Chelsea come to Emirates Stadium on December 27 and City are the visitors on January 5, Wenger knows his team's destiny remains very much in their own hands.

"We are disappointed because we lost at Manchester United, but we have an opportunity to go back to winning habits at home," he said.

"What is positive is if you look overall at our situation, we are still in a strong position because we still play Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City at home, Liverpool as well.

"More than ever, we will still have our say in this league."

Wenger, though, accepts the fact one or both of their title rivals are set to drop points at Stamford Bridge on Sunday will be meaningless if his team do not produce the required result against Stoke.

"What I want to see is us winning the game on Saturday and then to watch the game on Sunday in a relaxed way," he said.

"What is important is we win our games.

"You cannot always speculate on the results of others - you only have a chance to do well in the league if you win your own games."

Jon Walters is Stoke manager Tony Pulis' only doubt. Walters missed training in the first half of the week with flu, and only took

part in gym work on Thursday to assess his fitness, with a late decision to be made on whether he will travel.

If passed fit he is certain to figure in some capacity for a Stoke side looking to atone for last Saturday's disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Blackpool.


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