Been a while since Arsenal played, hasn’t it? The Gunners return to action tomorrow after a 17 day layoff with a match against Stoke at the Emirates. Arsenal have won their last three matches - 3-0 over Watford and 5-1 over A.C. Milan on aggregate. Stoke is winless in its last 7, scoring a measly four goals in total. Dropping points tomorrow would be a major disappointment for the Gunners.
When these two sides met way back in August, the Potters bested the Gunners 1-0 on the strength of a Jesé goal. But Stoke has not had much success visiting the Emirates - they’ve lost on their last 15 trips. Hopefully that trend continues.
The break allowed a relatively injury-stricken Arsenal side time to heal; the Gunners come into tomorrow with no injuries (apart from Santi Cazorla). Jack Wilshere picked up a slight knock on England duty but is expected to play. Alexandre Lacazette may get a run-out as well after his extended layoff following a knee procedure.
Stoke will be missing Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Lee Grant, and Stephen Ireland to injury and Charlie Adam to suspension. Geoff Cameron is doubtful for the match.
Arsenal sit a distant 13 points behind 4th-place Tottenham and 8 points behind 5th place Chelsea - making the Champions League through league finish is beyond a pipe dream at this point. Of greater concern to the Gunners is the upcoming Europa League tie with CSKA Moscow who visit the Emirates on Thursday for the first leg of the quarterfinals. Tomorrow’s match should provide the Gunners with a chance to knock off the rust, get back into match form, and build a little momentum for CSKA.
Arsenal cannot completely overlook Stoke (or their remaining Premier League fixtures for that matter). 7th-place Burnley have closed the gap to 2 points and are threatening to overtake the Gunners in the table, with Arsenal having tomorrow’s game in hand. While it looks as if 7th place will make the Europa League playoff rounds (unless Southampton wins the FA Cup), finishing that far down the table would be bitterly disappointing for the club.
And of course, the Wenger-In, Wenger-Out drama still looms over the club like a vicious storm on the horizon. It should be an interesting final six weeks of the season.
WHAT: Arsenal vs. Stoke City
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, London
WHEN: Sunday, April 1st, 5:30 AM PT | 8:30 AM ET | 1:30 PM BT
US TV: NBCSN. Stream here.
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