Stoke Job

If we earn three points against Stoke at the Britannia tomorrow, people will begin to talk about us seriously again as title contenders.

More importantly, the boost it’ll give our squad will be enormous. Having failed to beat them twice at the Britannia in two years, the players will be up for it more than ever.

While we do have key players out (Arshavin, Gallas, and Diaby), we do possess the players needed to pull through tomorrow.

The strength will not come from power, as being deprived of Diaby means that our midfield with be lightweight compared to Stoke. That means we have to pass through their team. No silly passes going astray, we must hold possession and ensure that Stoke do not strike first.

In the FA Cup match against them, Fabianski’s hesitancy led to a goal. Once behind, we did actually equalize, but got drilled in the final moments when Wenger brought on our heavy hitters.

To beat Stoke, we need to be first to every 50-50 ball and defend set pieces incredibly well. To that end, this is how you beat Rory Delap’s throw-ins. The most important player is the goalkeeper, as he has a weapon that can counter Delap’s throw-in. That weapon is the ability to catch the ball in the field of play.

We cannot ask Almunia to change his style of play though, so it’s going to require punch outs that go past our penalty box. In addition, Bendtner’s height, along with Sol, will help a ton.

With Walcott possibly starting, we need to pump balls through the right channel and let Theo do what he does best, beat men with his pace. Eboue may also be an option, as his directness has been a positive force the last few weeks.

We need Cesc to dictate play.

Tomorrow probably will not be a lovely display of football, but if we do what we’re capable of doing, the critics will take notice and our players will start to see what Wenger sees.

It’s a big, big, big fixture.

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