Arsenal are hopeful of extending their season success by picking up another victory at bogey side Stoke City this weekend.
Things have changed radically over the last few years at the bet365 stadium and Stoke are no longer the ‘rugby boys’ of the Premier League, but Arsene Wenger will still be wary.
The Potters have failed to pull off any real deals this season but after confirming the loan signing of Jese Rodriguez, it seems they’re heading in the right direction.
Nevertheless, this is a great time to play this fixture because the Gunners are still rocking some momentum from last Friday’s dramatic 4-3 win over Leicester City.
During the boss’ press conference on Wednesday, he confirmed there would be a number of players welcomed back into the squad, including an update on Alexis Sanchez.
Per Mertesacker is available for selection if needed after Arsenal’s opening day defensive crisis left them to play two left-backs in central defence.
Joining the captain in returning to action is Shkodran Mustafi and Francis Coquelin, with the latter featuring for 74 minutes in the U23’s 3-2 victory over Derby U23’s on Monday night.
Jack Wilshere also played in that Premier League 2 game but will be given a few more run-outs with the U23’s before he’s considered to return to the first-team.
Alexis Sanchez will also miss out despite working extra hard in training over the last few days. The Chilean suffered an abdominal strain and will likely feature in the game against Liverpool next weekend.
Laurent Koscielny will serve the final game of his suspension this weekend, meaning Arsenal will soon get back to having their first-choice defence at Wenger’s disposal.
Gabriel and Santi Cazorla are both recovering from their long-term injuries and it’ll still be at least a month before we see either of them challenging for a spot in the starting XI.
Arsenal Absentees: J. Wilshere (fitness), A. Sanchez (abdomen), S. Cazorla (ankle), Gabriel (knee), L. Koscielny (suspended)
Likely Line-Up (3-4-2-1)
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech
Defence: Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal
Midfield: Hector Bellerin, Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Sead Kolasinac
Forwards: Mesut Ozil, Alex Lacazette
Striker: Olivier Giroud
Arsenal continue their Premier League campaign on Saturday, with the game being shown live on BT Sport 1 from 5.30pm (UK time).
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