The final game of this Saturday’s Premier League programme takes us to the Bet365 Stadium as Stoke play host to Arsenal. Mark Hughes’s men are looking for their first points of the season while Arsenal will look to continue their early season momentum.
Stoke travelled to Goodison Park last Saturday and came away empty handed from their encounter with Everton, in all fairness they caused the home side little trouble throughout the afternoon and only late on was Jordan Pickford called into action by Xhedran Shaqiri.
It did require a strong save from the England Under 21 international but on the balance of play, Everton’s win thanks to Wayne Rooney was certainly the fair result. Stoke lacked any real creative spark on Merseyside but that is something that Stoke boss Mark Hughes has identified and looked to have already resolved.
That is because he has managed to capture Jese on loan from PSG for the duration of the season. The 24 was signed by the French club but only ended up making 1 start before spending the second half of the campaign with his hometown side Las Palmas. While compatriot Joselu has now moved to Newcastle for a fee of £5m
Today’s opponents Arsenal will no doubt have their tails up after a dramatic comeback victory over Leicester on the opening night of the season. Last Friday saw The Gunners come out on top in what was a seven goal thriller at The Emirates.
The topsy turvy encounter showed just what a threat Arsenal could be in attack this season due to their four goal haul but also the fact that they still look soft at the back after shipping three goals at home to the 2015/16 Premier League champions.
Ultimately though it was a win for Arsenal and in addition to their Community Shield success of a fortnight ago, these are all results that will continue to justify the decision to award Arsene Wenger a new 2 year contract at the tail end of last season.
The talk of his contract is now very much consigned to the backburner but unfortunately for the club that is not the last of the conversations on this particular topics as both Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both continue to be linked with moves away from North London before the end of the month.
Arsene Wenger has almost come to the acceptance that neither player will sign a new contract but he is also adamant that he will be selling neither player. He feels that the benefits of those two players staying with the club for one more season far outweigh the financial incentive that would be received.
And to be fair he is probably right as Arsenal are nowhere near a position where they have to sell these two to bring necessary funds and have so much even in reserve that Wenger can legislate letting them go on a free transfer come next summer.
It will only look like a smart decision though if Sanchez in particular can fire Arsenal back up to the Champions League places come May 2018. If the club miss out again though and then the Chilean international does walk, people will then ask why the player was not sold when the opportunity was there.
Sanchez scored in last season’s encounter between the two teams on this ground but will not feature again due to injury. Even with his absence though I still think Arsenal will come out on top as they seemingly no longer fear coming to what was something of a fortress in years gone by. It’s an away win for me.
And you can vote for the outcome on social media
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) August 18, 2017