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Friday, 20 September 2013

Premier League: Arsenal vs Stoke Match Preview

Opening day defeats, to Aston Villa and Liverpool respectively, must have served as a wake-up call to both Arsenal and Stoke. Both sides come into this fixture unbeaten in all competitions since 17 August, with Mark Hughes having altered the Potters' long ball-focused approach and Arsenal smashing their transfer record to lure German playmaker Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.  Mikel Arteta has returned to training and could make his first appearance of the season for Arsenal, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski, Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby and Yaya Sanogo remain sidelined.  Glenn Whelan, Marc Muniesa, Jamie Ness and Brek Shea will miss out for Stoke, who are looking to record their first win at the Emirates. Striker Kenwyne Jones is expected to be offered a contract extension, but may be dropped for Peter Crouch or newcomer Marko Arnautovic, a second-half substitute against Manchester City last weekend.  KICK-OFF: Sunday, 1:30pm                                                                              PAST THREE MEETINGS…  Arsenal 1 (Podolski) Stoke 0, Premier League, February 2013  Stoke 0 Arsenal 0, Premier League, August 2012  Stoke 1 (Crouch) Arsenal 1 (Van Persie), Premier League, April 2012  STATS…  Stoke have completed 79% of their 397 passes in 2013-14 so far, a higher percentage than in any campaign under Tony Pulis.  Olivier Giroud is the second Arsenal player (after Jose Antonio Reyes, 2004-05) to score in his team's opening four league games.  Peter Crouch has scored seven times against Arsenal – for Liverpool (four), Stoke (two) and Portsmouth (one).  ODDS…  Arsenal to win: 1.38  Stoke to win: 10.5  Draw: 5.2  TV: Live on Sky Sports 1 at 1:30pm, highlights on BBC1 at 10:25pm
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