It’s almost Six Nations season, which usually leads to a series of jokes about Stoke not being accepted as England’s entry. Under Tony Pulis’ watch, that was probably the case. Scrappy 1-0 wins were the norm at the Britannia. And we’ve all read the LAD BANTER pages on social media use the same incessant joke about wet and windy Tuesdays.
Under Mark Hughes, that’s all changed. Apart from the BANTER. He’s made Stoke a formidable opponent for any team. The league leaders Arsenal know all about away days at Stoke. They haven’t won there since 2010 in a match that saw Aaron Ramsey break his leg.
Nowadays, it’s still quite hard to get a win at Stoke. But they’ve shed all the tags about crap football. Out of 20 home games in 2015, Stoke won 12, with just two of them being by a 1-0 scoreline. There were no 0-0’s. The Potters have more home goals than Watford, Crystal Palace and are just two behind Liverpool. They’re arguably the most entertaining team from the North. The average age of their starting 11 on Wednesday was just 24. If Stoke are the most entertaining up north, then there’s no argument about who it is in the south.
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Arsenal have led the league at this stage five times, but have only gone on to win the trophy once. It’s usually February when they start to collapse, so no one crown them champions just yet. They’ve never looked as good as they have this season though. More shots inside the box than anyone, highest pass rate in the division, with the hottest striker (in both senses) Olivier Giroud.
They just can’t seem to shake off Leicester, who are more clingy than Maouranne Fellaini at a corner.
- Arsenal have best shot accuracy away from home in the PL with 54%
- It’s the same story with the pass accuracy (86%) and chances created -127
- Stoke have conceded only 10 goals at home all season
- Mesut Ozil got his first home assist of the season in the game in September.
Both teams scored three midweek. While I don’t think that’ll happen again, over 3.5 goals at is tempting. Arsenal’s recent away form is patchy, so a Stoke win with both teams to score at could be worth a fiver. A wincast with Bojan is . Alexis Sanchez is rumoured to be close to 100% so could make the bench. He’s to score anytime. Paddy’s special is for Giroud and Bojan both to score in 90 minutes at
You can be sure of one thing, it’ll be a better one than the earlier kickoff…