News Update :

Premier League preview: Arsenal vs Stoke

27 Apr 2012

koclokindoblog, 27 April 2012, Arsenal's bid to secure an automatic Champions League place continues with a clash against Stoke City on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger's men have won just two of their last five English Premier League matches, giving the in-form Newcastle United some hope of finishing third.

Injuries have affected Arsenal in recent weeks, with Mikel Arteta and Theo Walcott ruled out for the rest of the season.

Spaniard Arteta has been a big loss in midfield, while the form of prolific goalscorer Robin van Persie is also worrying.

Van Persie, who still tops the Premier League scoring charts with 27 goals, has netted just once in his last seven outings.

Arsenal's reliance on the Dutchman was always set to hurt them at some point this campaign, with their recent struggles coinciding with van Persie's poor form.

Joining the likes of Arteta and Walcott on the sidelines are Francis Coquelin, Per Mertesacker, Emmanuel Frimpong and Jack Wilshere.

But the visitors should still have enough quality to secure all three points against mid-table Stoke at Britannia Stadium.

Tony Pulis' men cannot be relegated and are unable to book a European berth for next season.

Normally reliable in defence, Stoke have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight games, including in the 3-0 loss to Newcastle last time out.

With just one win in their last eight league outings, Stoke have slipped to 14th on the table with little to play for in their remaining matches.

The likes of Salif Diao and Mamady Sidibe are sidelined.

Pulis is likely to persist with striker Jonathan Walters, who missed several chances in the loss to Newcastle.

"Jon could have had a hat-trick – and not a very difficult hat-trick. I'm not picking on him because he's done fantastic for us and kept going," he said.

"The best thing about him is that he will never stop getting into positions. His attitude and strength of character is fantastic and that's why we pick him every week."

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