Mesut Ozil should be back for the match against Stoke City, recharged and refreshed after a break. – AFP Photo
THIS is set to be a fiery match, if not on the pitch, then in the stands.
Both clubs are at the pivotal point of saving their season – Stoke City to escape relegation and Arsenal to finally score some silverware – but the Potters’ fans seem to be more focused on teaching Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey a lesson for celebrating his goal against them with a “shushing” gesture last September.
The Arsenal midfielder was only celebrating his return of form after the almost career-ending injury inflicted by Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross. Yet, some fans just can’t let it go, and have been stoking the fire against the Gunners with their online “All Bets Are Off” campaign for a minute silence on Saturday night in the 67th minute – the time Shawcross snapped Ramsey’s leg in 2010.
If only they had done their homework, they could have saved themselves all the stress – Ramsey will not even be fit for the bench in Saturday’s clash.
They should pray that their team and manager Mark Hughes have done better preparations for the game. If their 4-1 drubbing of Sunderland last week is anything to go by, Arsenal are on fire and more than recovered from their Champions League debacle.
Ok, if truth be told, Sunderland were rubbish – they played, at least those who bothered turning up, as if they were saving their breaths for the League Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday.
Still, it was great to see the Gunners take charge right off the bat and kill the game early; fans know only too well that infuriating feeling when Arsenal leave it late, which they like to do in almost all of their games now.
They need to repeat their last performance on Saturday at Stoke if they want to keep pace with their title rivals. The Britannia Stadium is not an easy place to visit – Chelsea and Manchester United have already lost there while Manchester City were held to a draw this season.
City managed to win in their rematch against Stoke last week, but the Potters did a brilliant job to hold them off for long stretches of the game.
Hopefully, the Arsenal attack will give them a harder time – Olivier Giroud was back at his best against Sunderland, scoring two goals before connecting with Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere to pave the way for Tomas Rosicky to chip in one of those classic team goals Arsenal used to be known for.
It will be interesting to see if Arsene Wenger maintains the team from last week as Mesut Ozil should be recharged and refreshed from his break.
But either way, Stoke fans, “All bets are on” for a 3-1 Arsenal win.
The Official Arsenal Malaysia supporters club welcomes Arsenal fans to watch live matches at Herris Delicious Corner, 22A-1, Jalan PJU 8/3A, Perdana Business Centre, Damansara Perdana. Visit arsenalmalaysia.com for more info.