Not a great recent record at Stoke, with two draws and a defeat in our last three seasons, so given that and the narrowness of our last two league wins, I’m not expecting a festival of goals and free-flowing football.
Arsenal are learning to tighten up out of necessity. The result seems to be less gung-ho, light-brigade galloping forth. (I say ‘seems to’ as you never quite know with Arsenal).
It takes a bit of adjusting to. Certainly, whilst in hindsight I can see that the Southampton game was an excellent result against a well-organised team, it wasn’t a whole lot of fun to watch at the time (as I mentioned on the Arsenal America podcast).
Match of the Day made it look like a better game than I remembered it to be. I thought we were sluggish and one-paced for a lot of the game, but maybe that’s the price we’ll have to pay while we try to recalibrate our defensive game. It certainly happened that way the last time, at the end of the 2011-12 season, when we went back to basics and George Grahamed our way to fourth.
I’m happy with that, it’s needed, though we’ll need to start scoring more at some point.
Back to our defence, and as it our style, Koscielny is a doubt, while The Quiet Yeoman is out. I’m not sure quite what we’ll do if there’s no Koscielny or Quiet Yeoman at centre half. Wenger will have to magic something up, I suppose.
Up front, Alexis is running on empty, though his empty is another man’s half a tank, so I expect him to play ahead of being rested against Galatasaray. And if Giroud doesn’t get the nod, I’m a Dutchman.
I’ll take a scrappy one-nil, to be honest. We’re not a team that hammers other teams at the moment (if anything, last season it was the other way round). Whilst I’d love us to find our goalscoring mojo today, Stoke away might not be the occasion where it happens.
Do it, rip roarers!