Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side welcomes a totally different Stoke City side to the Emirates this weekend, with performances from Mark Hughes’ Stoke so far this season showing they’re going in a different direction to the Pulis era.
Stoke City are currently sitting 7th in the table, unbeaten in their last three after losing to Liverpool in the first game of the season, and have looked impressive at times. Mark Hughes looks to have emphasised a less Begovic-to-Crouch pass combination, and more playing the ball out from the back, with pass combinations from their most recent game at home to Manchester City being played out from the back – Pieters to N’Zonzi (10) and Cameron to N’Zonzi (10).
Tony Pulis’ Stoke City team were renowned as a long ball team, but Hughes seems to have emphasised less long balls to his strikers, which is shown with the above stat image with pass combinations from Begovic to Jones and Walters.
Compare this to their last game of the 2012/2013 campaign, when Stoke City’s highest pass combination was Asmir Begovic to Peter Crouch (20) – a much different prospect it may seem, which may actually suit Arsenal’s style of play.
Arsenal have had an impressive start to the season, they sit second after losing their home game versus Aston Villa, it can be said the game didn’t go Arsenal’s way, with Laurent Koscielny fairly unlucky being sent off, and one debatable penalty which turned the tide for a Villa victory.
The Gunners looked comfortable versus Fulham and Fenebahce, while never really having to get out of second gear in the North London derby.
Sunderland posed a bit of a threat in the second half of their clash last weekend, but Aaron Ramsey, their best player so far this season, was majestic in their eventual 3-1 win.
Arsenal’s long injury list consists of the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Yaya Sanogo, Lukas Podolski and Abou Diaby.
Unlike Arsenal, Stoke have plenty of options for the clash at the Emirates on Sunday, with just Whelan, Muniesa and Jamie Ness out on the injury list.
Arsenal have completed 39 successful dribbles so far this term, Stoke City have completed 35 successful dribbles [via WhoScored]
Stoke City are still prone to a long ball, but not as many as some may think – Arsenal total long balls (163), Stoke total long balls (173) [via WhoScored]
In their 10 Premier League clashes, Arsenal have won (6) drawn (2) and lost (2) – both defeats coming at the Britannia Stadium.
Arsenal – Aaron Ramsey Vs Stoke City – Steven N’Zonzi
The Welsh midfielder, simply put, has been on fire so far this season for Arsenal, in both the Premier League and the Champions League. His injury at Stoke City three years ago has been taken into context, where such an injury could have jeopardised his career, but towards the end of last season – and the start of this season – it seems that the Arsenal youngster has got his career back on track.
He has scored (2) goals so far, in a total of (3) shots on target, and (3) off target – a 50% shooting accuracy, a 33% chance conversion, and a 100% clear-cut chance conversion. Averaging 120 mins per shot on target.
In terms of his passing ability this term, he has played (317) passes, (278) of which were accurate – an 88% pass completion. He played 27% of his passes forwards, with just 14% backward passes.
Ramsey has attempted (9) dribbles so far this term, completing (5) of them.
N’Zonzi has been the rock in the Stoke City midfield so far, with instrumental performances helping his team achieve (2) clean sheets, with conceding just (2) in the opening four games. Conceding 0.5 goals per game, compared to 1.25 per game for Ramsey’s Arsenal.
Steven N’Zonzi has played a total of 228 passes, of which 206 were accurate – a 90% pass completion. 31% of N’Zonzi’s passes were played forwards, while 15% of his passes were played backwards.
As shown above, when comparing their defensive abilities, it’s clear that Aaron Ramsey comes out on top, with a total of 20 tackles, a 95% tackle success. Steven N’Zonzi has totalled 17 tackles – a 70.59% success.
Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City
I believe Arsenal will be too strong for Mark Hughes’ side, with Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud to wreak havoc on the Stoke City defence.
Olivier Giroud to score first – William Hill 3/1
First goal to be in the first 15 minutes – William Hill 9/4
Under 2.5 goals – 11/10
Stats via EPL Index Stats Centre, WhoScored and FourFourTwo’s Stats Zone app.