Date: 24th January 2010 at 2:48am
Written by:

After two highly contested physical battles against Bolton Wanderers, Arsenal limp into the fourth round of the FA Cup. Some people will be disappointed if Wenger resorts to a Carling Cup squad, but I’ll be disappointed if any of our starters show up on the initial team sheet. Wenger will surely be called a hypocrite, but no one has the upcoming schedule that we do.

Vital Quotes:

Here is Wenger’s pre-match squad news: “We have called up Kyle Bartley, Jay Emmanuel Thomas, Francis Coquelin, Gilles Sunu, and Craig Eastmond.’

“Sol will be OK to play [after regaining fitness] but, right now, I don`t know if I play him. However it is a big opportunity for him if he does. I have to make a decision at right back too. Eastmond is possible. We moved him from there to central midfield in the past, so we`ll see. But Coquelin can play right back as well. I want to pick a team which is strong enough to win the game, without ignoring we are under immense physical demands in every single game right now and the fact some players need to have a breather.”

Stoke City Team News:

Unlike Arsenal, Stoke have a full-strength squad available as Abdoulaye Faye and Rory Delap have recovered in time for this weekend’s match. Thomas Sorenson will continue in goal for Pulis.

Player to watch: Rory Delap

He killed us with his long throws last season. It will be interesting to see how Fabianski deals with the problem.

Arsenal Team News:

See above as Wenger pretty much gives away the team. Silvestre and Campbell will start at the back, while Vela, Walcott, and Wilshere will get to have a go as well.

Predicted Starting Lineup: Fabianski, Coquelin, Campbell, Silvestre, Traore, Eastmond, Jay Emmanuel Thomas, Wilshere, Walcott, Vela, Sunu

Player to watch: Jay Emmanuel Thomas

I’ve been looking forward to seeing JET in the first team for a while now. He’s a big strong lad, and we’ll need him to match Stoke’s physicality in the midfield.

Ref Watch:

Martin Atkinson is the head official.

Match Prediction:

Once the lineups are announced, Stoke will be the obvious favourites. I think Stoke will end up capitalizing on our weakened lineup, but if they take the kids lightly, the home side could be in for a rude awakening. Stoke 2-1 Arsenal

Next Fixtures:

27/1 (Wed) – Aston Villa (a) – Premier League

31/1 (Sun) – Manchester United (h) – Premier League

7/2 (Sun) – Chelsea (a) – Premier League

10/2 (Wed) – Liverpool (h) – Premier League