EPL: Gunners face Stoke’s hurdle

The match will go a long way in determining if Arsenal will make the Top 4

Stoke City vs Arsenal

Venue: bet365 Stadium

Kick off: 5:30pm

Arsenal visit a ground that they have notoriously struggled at in the past, aiming to overcome Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium to keep their top-four ambitions alive.

The Gunners cannot afford to lose any of their remaining three fixtures if they are to overhaul two of the sides immediately above them, starting with all three points in Staffordshire on Saturday evening.

After picking up one win from their previous nine matches, or just six points from the last 27 on offer, it is fair to say that Stoke’s season has been petering out for a good few weeks now.

Stoke could still finish in a Premier League-high position of eighth place. 

For that to happen, a few results would have to go their way, as well as picking up maximum points against the Gunners.

City find themselves down in 13th but just four points off West Bromwich Albion in eighth, who still have a game in hand to play, but on the flipside they could still finish one spot above the relegation zone if things pan out badly.

Completely written off as top-four hopefuls following defeat to Crystal Palace a month ago, Arsenal have – almost inevitably – battled their way back into contention and will likely take their fight down to the wire.

Not since 1997 have they missed out on a place in the Champions League but, even after an upturn in results since that 3-0 reverse at Selhurst Park, their incredible run of reaching Europe’s showpiece competition will surely end this time around.

Four wins from five since reverting to a new formation, with Wenger opting for three at the back for the first time in two decades, has helped rejuvenate a previously tired-looking squad – the players now seem up for the fight.

As the cliche goes, every game is like a cup final for the Gunners between now and May 27 – when they really do have a literal final with Chelsea at Wembley Stadium – as any sort of setback will end their hopes of a 21st top-four finish in succession.

Stoke City Possible XI: Butland, Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Muniesa, Cameron, Whelan, Shaqiri, Allen, Arnautovic, Diouf.

Arsenal Possible XI: Cech, Holding, Mustafi, Monreal, Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Gibbs, Sanchez, Ozil, Giroud.