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Stoke City vs. Arsenal: match preview

It's only the captain of Wales, everybody.
It's only the captain of Wales, everybody.

Kickoff: Sunday, April 8, 9:05 AM EDT, Britannia Stadium
Stoke-Upon-Trent, Staffordshire, England, United Kingdom, Europe, North Sea, Earth
TV: Fox Soccer Channel

Arsenal visit the Potters of Stoke City on Sunday in their third-to-last Premier League encounter of the year. Although they mathematically have a chance at the title still, it will take some serious failure on the part of Chelsea and Manchester United for them to make good on it.

Of course, that's not really the story coming into the weekend, is it?

Aaron Ramsey looks slated to start in the midfield for Arsenal following a continuance of the thigh problem for Cesc Fabregas. This, of course, means that Ramsey will line up across from the man whose reckless tackle broke his leg, Ryan Shawcross. This is only the Welsh captain's third start since sustaining the injury last February, and Arsène Wenger thinks it will do him a world of good to face Stoke again:

"Yes [it is good for him to go back and] the earlier the better because there will always be a question mark about that," said Wenger.

"At the end of the day you focus on football and you play. It is like if you have a car accident - you do you never drive again? Of course you drive again and the earlier the better."

One suspects that Ramsey may start a bit hesitantly, and will probably come in for a lot of [wrongful] stick from the Potters supporters. He will come through the game all right, though, and looks to be in excellent form following his magisterial display against Manchester United last weekend.

Johan Djourou and Gaël Clichy face fitness tests ahead of the match, and Thomas Vermaelen could be available for the squad (one suspects he may start) for the match. Fabregas and Samir Nasri will miss the match, as will Abou Diaby, leaving Arsenal's midfield choices a little thin.

Possible lineup:

Arsenal [4-3-3]: Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs; Song, Wilshere, Ramsey; Arshavin, van Persie, Walcott.