Stoke City-Arsenal Preview
LONDON (SE) - Arsenal will look to extend their home winning streak against Stoke City to eleven straight matches on Saturday as they aim to keep pace in the hunt for a Champions League place.
The Gunners failed to make up any ground on their rivals despite recovering from two down to earn a 2-2 home draw against Liverpool on Wednesday. Arsenal (10-8-6) have now allowed eight goals in their last four league games at the Emirates and have only kept three clean sheets at home in the league all season.
Manager Arsene Wenger believes they are paying the price for their attacking style at the moment.
"It's a bit of a price of our philosophy but I feel we are too nervous," he told the club website. "It's down to the fact that recently we conceded goals in big games at home.
"I think we had to throw everything forward and take a big gamble (on Wednesday). We did it well and even at 2-0 down, you could never feel that the team was giving up. They were absolutely going for it."
Despite dropping critical points at home, Wenger was quick to draw positives from the performance against Liverpool.
"It was a game of great quality. We have shown tremendous spirit, tremendous quality going forward, we always looked dangerous and the spirit of the team was absolutely fantastic.
"We looked a bit nervous defensively and the recent history of the team certainly plays a big impact in the heads of the players. We have to get rid of that, because apart from that, there's a lot of positives in the games."
The Potters (6-12-6) also come into Saturday's match on the back of a 2-2 draw at home after they surrendered a two-goal lead to allow Wigan Athletic to snatch a point at the Britannia Stadium.
Manager Tony Pulis was far from pleased with his team's efforts as he spoke after that match.
"They scored their first goal from us switching off," he told the club website. "We're letting people run off us which is what we did today and that cost us. We have got to start doing the basics again.
"We've talked about it and certain individuals have got to do the work off the ball as well as on the ball. We're playing in one of the best leagues in the world and you don't just play on the ball, you have to put even more effort into playing off the ball as well."
Stoke have only won one of their last nine Premier League matches and Pulis believes it is because the side has strayed from the methods that have earned them success in the past.
"Ever since I've been at this football club, we've been a side who will work their socks off," he said. "Over the last few weeks though, we've not been doing the basics when we've not had the ball. The disappointing thing is it's cost us tonight after we've done some good things.
"When they got their second goal, we looked really tired and that was probably down to all the work we had to do in chasing Manchester City in the cup tie at the weekend."
Stoke bolstered their squad late in the transfer window when they added goalkeeper Jack Butland and American midfielder Brek Shea on transfer deadline day.
These sides drew 0-0 at the Britannia Stadium on the second day of the season. It was the second consecutive draw between the teams in the league.
However, Arsenal ultimately ran out comfortable winners in the corresponding fixture at the Emirates last season. Stoke's Peter Crouch cancelled out Gervinho's opener for Arsenal but Robin van Persie score twice within 16 minutes of coming off the bench to secure the win for the Gunners.