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, Iâ€™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 â€˜seems toâ€™ 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 wasnâ€™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 thatâ€™s the price weâ€™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.
Iâ€™m happy with that, itâ€™s needed, though weâ€™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. Iâ€™m not sure quite what weâ€™ll do if thereâ€™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 manâ€™s half a tank, so I expect him to play ahead of being rested against Galatasaray. And if Giroud doesnâ€™t get the nod, Iâ€™m a Dutchman.
Iâ€™ll take a scrappy one-nil, to be honest. Weâ€™re not a team that hammers other teams at the moment (if anything, last season it was the other way round). Whilst Iâ€™d love us to find our goalscoring mojo today, Stoke away might not be the occasion where it happens.
Do it, rip roarers!