Yep, by the time the final whistle goes somewhere around 15.20hrs today, we will have learned if we have taken further steps forward in our Premier League campaign or just same old few steps forward and the same plus one back.
Today is a huge test, not only as Stoke are a big side, they have been a physical side too in the past but now, as they sit above us in the league, they have also become a bit of a footballing side.
They have Crouch and Kenwyne Jones up front, possibly two of the tallest strikers out defence will face in the league.
They really gave Manchester united a fright earlier on in the season and maybe they were a tad unlucky to take only one point from the game, today is gunner be tough.
We know Jenkinson is the latest to be ruled out injured; he joins Vermaelen, Gibbs, Diaby, Sagna and Wilshere.
The good news though is apart from Jack and Sagna, the others are all due back in two weeks.
Stoke’s Pennant is a doubt through a dodgy hamstring but Higginbotham could return.
So far this season we have lost every game after playing in the CL, in fact we haven’t won a fixture after a European match since last November!!
Not so good eh, time for that to change…
Yes, we are starting to look a lot tighter at the back but we have still conceded five goals in our last six games so there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Up front, good old Robin the Reliant has been on form thankfully, he’s bagged 27 goals in his last 33 games. Today we need someone else to burden some of the weight – it’s time for the likes of Walcott and Gervinho to get on the score sheet and we certainly need a greater impetus from our lacklustre midfield.
Stoke are a tough nut to crack but Sunderland managed to do it, and convincingly too by scoring four times, so if they can, we can too. That game apart though, Stoke have conceded just seven goals in their other 15 fixtures.
In the centre of the defence they have a couple of old crocks in most people’s eyes, but Woodgate and Upson have done really well, two smart ‘free’ signings in the summer by Pulis but they haven’t face our main man yet, we all know he could undo them in a second, if he’s on fire.
Stoke have never won a solitary point at The Emirates, today we need to make sure that doesn’t change. The last league goal they scored at our place was back in 2009, courtesy of a Ricardo Fuller penalty.
Back in May this year though, they battered us 3-1 at their own ground, we don’t need or want anything similar to that score-line.
Our home results have picked up since the Liverpool and we have won the last three but we are still conceding too many goals, in fact only Bolton and Blackburn have conceded more.
That’s nothing to brag about eh?
Stoke are struggling to score goals, they have netted just six so far this season in the league and stats show that four of them have come in the last ten minutes of the game, hope our boys have been warned! They have only scored one goal in the first half so let’s get three goals in the first half, then game over! ;)
So, despite Stoke sitting above us in the league, it doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story does it?
It’s pretty clear that Stoke are struggling to score goals! It’s clear they don’t like conceding them either but we all believe we are on the up don’t we?
Today, if we get a strong display by our defence, a more dynamic and creative display from our midfield and of course, a clinical, ruthless display from any of our players who find themselves with a goal scoring opportunity – we can beat this Stoke side with conviction…
If not, well then anything could happen.
One thing is for sure though; round about 3.20pm today in UK time, we’ll all know just how far we have come in the last few weeks…..
Come on The Arsenal, your manager believes in all of you, go and prove to yourselves and all others just why he does…..
It’s time to push on Guys, three points is a MUST!!