Last season, you might have expected odds of 1/3 about Arsenal beating Stoke, although the Potters currently sit three places higher than Sunday’s opponents and the bookmakers are prepared to take the Gunners on a bit more these days.
After all, Arsene Wenger’s team laboured to a 2-1 win over Sunderland last weekend which was not pretty and owed everything to the dead-ball prowess of Robin Van Persie after several team-mates had missed from free kicks during an increasingly fraught second half.
Arsenal will still have plenty of takers at odds of 4/7 (Blue Square – £25 free bets) especially as Stoke tend to struggle in matches following on from Europa League games, with Tony Pulis’ side beating Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday.
However, the Gunners were also in European action during the week after Wednesday’s trip to Marseille might well take a toll, even if Aaron Ramsey’s late winner put Arsenal in a tremendous position at the halfway stage of the Champions League group stage.
Van Persie will clearly be the danger man for the home side on Sunday, with the Dutchman 7/2 (Ladbrokes – £50 free betting) to break the deadlock once again and he will certainly want to take any free-kicks from the right-hand side of the penalty area.
Ramsey should also come back into the team after his heroics in France which saw Wenger hail the Welshman as a true goalscorer and he can be backed at a stand out 14/1 (Victor Chandler) to score the first goal of the game.
Stoke’s away matches so far in the Premier League have seen them squeak a win at West Brom and draw at Norwich while also losing matches against Swansea and Sunderland. As mentioned, both defeats were following on from Europa defeats and the Emirates isn’t exactly an easy place to visit anyhow.