Saturday and 3 points to be claimed. That it’s at Britannia stadium makes the task slightly more difficult but not extremely different from the other teams that we have to face this season. We know their style of play and the tactics in which they will use to have an advantage of us. Yet, the outcome of the match will have a stronger significance for us than them.
Bolton are 17th and if they win all their remaining matches, they could go ahead Stoke, that is if Stoke lose all their balance games. But seeing as Stoke are in 14th place, it will take a combination of incredibly positive result for the teams in between for Tony Pulis’ side to get relegated. Although, some of them may be playing each other and thus rendering the possibility even lower.
As for now though, Stoke looks safe and plays like they are already on holidays. However, I’m certain that they will be fired up for this game. The relations between both clubs have not been good since one of our own was attacked on their ground. I’m sure we all remember what happened that robbed Aaron Ramsey one good year of football. Fans has will be up for this one as they will remember the reaction of home fans who boo Ramsey in his return last season.
Which is bound to happen again, seeing that Ramsey looks certain to start today. Abou Diaby was ill earlier in the week but still join up with the team. At best, a place on the bench is for him. While it is good to see Francis Coquelin back in full training and perhaps will get a substitute role as well but I’d be surprised to see him involve in today’s match.
Yossi Benayoun returns to the fray after being forced to sit out the Chelsea game due to the loanee rule. With Theo Walcott out and Gervinho looking woefully in form, it’s good to have the Israeli back. I see what he brings to the team, in terms of stability and responsibility. However, despite his aerial presence against Wigan, Benayoun haven’t showed as much creativity in the attacking sense.
For that reason, I’m hoping to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being kept in the starting line-up. Despite being largely anonymous against Chelsea, I’ll still have him there. Taking him out of the side won’t help him. In fact, I think it’s much better for him to get another 90minutes and see if he can improve on his previous performance. That’s what being a professional is all about. No one gets rating 10 every game. It’s about getting the 7 when in previous game, you got a 3 or 4.
We know what to expect of Stoke today. They will be physical and will rely on set pieces. We have to stand up and be counted for. We have to show up to the fights and win the mini bouts. Any less desire and determination shown today and we will surely not get 3 points.
Last but not least, we also need Robin Van Persie back. One goal in 6 or 7 games is a far cry for the scintillating form he was in that earned him the two individual awards. Last 3 Robin, time to soar again.
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