MX23RW : Tuesday, April 23 10:52:55| >> :600:33521188:33521188:
Apr 1, 2018 at 1.30pm UK at ​Emirates Stadium
Attendance: 59,371
StokeStoke City
Aubameyang (75' pen., 86'), Lacazette (88' pen.)
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Arsenal vs. Stoke City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of Stoke City's trip to Arsenal in the Premier League.

Arsenal will attempt to make it four wins on the spin when they welcome Premier League strugglers Stoke City to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Gunners' recent form may sound impressive, but they are still heading towards their worst season under Arsene Wenger and are seemingly just one bad result away from another crisis.


Arsene Wenger and Steve Bould watch on during the Premier League game between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal on March 4, 2018© Offside

The two-week international break arguably came at the best possible time for Wenger, who managed to escape further scrutiny over his job prospects by virtue of those three successive victories heading into the hiatus.

Wenger's nadir very much came at Brighton & Hove Albion on March 4, as Arsenal slipped to a fourth defeat on the spin - their worst run under the Frenchman - to leave many wondering if the end really was now in sight.

Uncertainty still remains with regards to Wenger's future beyond the summer, when he has already admitted his contract will be reviewed, and it could well now be a case of relying on success in the Europa League to persuade the board to allow him to stay on.

Achieving anything in the Premier League has long been out of the question, with the Gunners sixth in the table and 13 points off fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur. The gap on leaders Manchester City, meanwhile, now stands at 33 points - a truly incredible gulf.

Shkodran Mustafi revealed earlier this week that a team meeting was called following the recent losing run, and results have indeed improved since then. A two-legged last-16 win over AC Milan has kept the North Londoners on course for some sort of silverware, while a 3-0 victory over Watford in the league ensures that they still have the very slimmest aspirations of finishing in the top four.

That most recent result in the league also kept Arsenal five points in front of surprise package Burnley, which would - no disrespect to the Clarets - be the ultimate humiliation for Wenger and his players if the clubs swapped positions at this late stage in proceedings.

Three more wins from three home games over the next week or so would further bolster Wenger's cause when it comes to reviewing the season, although the Premier League has ultimately taken a back seat to the Europa League for the remaining six weeks of the season, as the Gunners look destined to finish no higher or lower than sixth.

This match does at least give Arsenal a chance to build some momentum, with only Manchester United left to face of the big six, though their failure to win back-to-back league games since November means that this one should not quite go down as a home banker.

Recent form in Premier League: LWLLLW
Recent form (all competitions): LLLWWW

Stoke City

Paul Lambert in charge of Aston Villa in February 2015© Offside

The message from Paul Lambert to his players is to 'continue fighting' following a seven-match winless run, with just seven more games left to play before the season comes to an end.

Stoke find themselves down in 19th place, kept off the bottom of the division by a West Bromwich Albion side that has somehow managed to be even worse over the past eight months, and things do not get any easier for them.

As Ryan Shawcross pointed out recently, City will now effectively need to pick up victory against one of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur or Liverpool during an extremely tough run-in if they are to have any hope of dodging the drop.

The new manager bounce has not truly been felt at the bet365 Stadium, as Lambert has won just one of his eight matches at the helm - that coming in his first game in charge at home to Huddersfield Town on January 20.

Stoke have suffered back-to-back losses at the hands of Manchester City and Everton, following on from a run of three successive draws, and most worryingly of all they have picked up all three points on their travels just once this season.

Throw their terrible London record into the mix - winless in 17 Premier League outings in the capital - and it is difficult to see anything other than the gap on 17th place growing come the end of this latest matchday.

When looking back at the season the 2-1 loss to Everton last time out could well be seen as the moment hope completely evaporated, as a record 30,000+ crowd in the Potteries witnessed their side lose a game that had been billed as must-win by their manager.

With just four wins to their name since September, the Potters may well have to match that tally over the remaining month-and-a-half of the campaign if they are to prolong their stay in the top flight past the decade mark.

Recent form in Premier League: LDDDLL

Team News

Jack Wilshere in the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United on December 16, 2017© SilverHub

Jack Wilshere is expected to be back in contention after failing to appear in either of England's friendlies due to a knee problem, and Arsenal could also welcome Alexandre Lacazette back following close to two months on the sidelines.

An injury picked up by Sead Kolasinac during the international break may restrict his playing time, particularly ahead of the European clash with CSKA on the horizon, but Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil both returned unscathed.

That could be big news for Arsenal, as Ozil has been directly involved in five goals in five Prem starts against Stoke. Equally important has been the partnership of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who have combined for three goals in just 406 minutes on the field together.

In terms of the visitors, Charlie Adam begins a three-match ban for his red card against Everton and Eric Choupo-Moting picked up an injury problem in the same game that will rule him out of this one.

Lambert hopes to have Mame Biram Diouf available following his return to action with Senegal earlier this week, however, and Erik Pieters is in line for a recall after breaching club protocol ahead of the loss to Everton.

Peter Crouch may well be given the nod up top for the Potters, having scored nine times against this weekend's opponents - only Robbie Fowler (10) and Wayne Rooney (12) have scored more in the Premier League era.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi; Aubameyang

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Zouma, Pieters; Fletcher, Ndiaye; Shaqiri, Allen, Sobhi; Crouch

Head To Head

Arsenal have won their last 15 home matches against Stoke in all competitions, stretching back to August 1981 when losing 1-0 at Highbury.

Stoke won the reverse fixture in the early stages of the season, though, earning the points through a Jese Rodriguez goal early in the second half, and are now seeking a league double over the Gunners for the first time since 1975-76.

Overall, Arsenal have won 56 of the 106 past encounters in all competitions, and have won by at least a two-goal margin in each of the last four meetings in North London.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Arsenal 3-0 Stoke City

Arsenal have collected 72.9% of their league points on home soil this season - the highest percentage in the division - and they have a perfect record against Stoke on home soil over the past 37 years. Whichever way you look at it, the odds really are stacked against the visitors to take anything from this game.

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Who will win Sunday's Premier League meeting between Arsenal and Stoke City?

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Stoke City
General view of Stoke City ground the bet365 Stadium, pictured in the 2017-18 season
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