Arsenal are looking to rescue their faltering challenge for a place in next season’s Champions League by gaining what would only be their second league win of 2013 against Stoke in what is sure to be a clash of styles at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners remain only four points off fourth-placed Tottenham but with 24 games now played in the Premier League, Arsene Wenger will be increasingly concerned with his side’s league position.
Stoke themselves have been on a desperately poor run of late, with Tuesday’s 2-2 home draw with Wigan their fifth winless league game on the spin, though the Potters remain comfortably placed in 10th position.
Arsenal may hand an immediate debut to Spanish left-back Nacho Monreal, who completed a late transfer deadline-day move from Malaga to London, in place of Kieran Gibbs, whose thigh strain could keep him out for up to six weeks. Francis Coquelin remains missing, while captain Thomas Vermaelen is doubtful with an ankle injury with Laurent Koscielny on stand-by. However, Mikel Arteta returns to the squad after a period on the sidelines with a calf problem.
Stoke’s two deadline-day signings will not be in action at the Emirates, with American winger Break Shea still recovering from a foot operation while Jack Butland has been loaned back to Birmingham for the remainder of the season. Tony Pulis managed to retain the services of both Peter Crouch and Kenwyne Jones, who were being courted by QPR and Swansea respectively and will choose between the two to them to partner the ever-present Jonathan Walters.