Arsenal vs Stoke City. 12 September 2015. Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal have had a pretty average start this season amassing 7 points out of a possible 12 in the first 4 games with the Gunners scoring just as much as they have conceded – 3.
They face familiar foes Stoke City this weekend and we look at some Arsenal players who particularly have a point to prove in that game.
1. Theo Walcott
The England forward who though still plays on the wing for the Three Lions is now a striker at Arsenal, something which has been his long time wish.
Arsene Wenger has granted him that wish and has put so much confidence in his ability alongside Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck so much that he decided he didn’t need to buy a striker so as to allow Walcott develop in the striking role.
But so far this season, truth be said he has been out-rightly poor in the games he has started. But his qualities in front of goal is undoubted as he showed for England during the international break, where he scored twice after coming on for the final 23 minutes of a 6-0 drubbing of San Marino.
But he needs to start showing that talent upfront for Arsenal, he needs to start finding a way to assert himself on defenders, or avoid getting so close to them to be susceptible to their physicality.
Stoke city’s game is another opportunity for him to prove himself, and with Giroud being so terrible everywhere and Welbeck out till January at least, its time Walcott started following in the steps of the legend who’s shirt he collected.
At 26, it’s about time he started being the one to save his team in tough games, and Arsenal sure do look like they will need a saviour this season.
2. Alexis Sanchez
On his debut season in England the energetic Chilean took the Premier League by storm, finishing as Arsenal’s player of the season by a long shot.
But his second season has started at a rather slow pace. We can accept that Arsenal have been poor this season, but he is the man we have come to know to be the shining light when the team is dull, though we can accept that his prolonged holiday after a stressful Copa America triumph where he played a major role, is enough to get anyone very unfit.
However, he has had time to rest during this international break and is showing he is getting his touch back with a goal for his country during the break, so Stoke’s game would be a good opportunity for him to bring that form back to Arsenal and prove he is not a first season wonder which we all know he isn’t.
3. Per Mertesacker
Unlike Walcott, Mertesacker hasn’t exactly done badly this season. In fact, none of the three goals conceded this season has been directly or indirectly his fault; but he hasn’t been the better of the two center backs; in simple terms he is the first person that comes to mind when you think of replacing one of he and Koscielny.
And now, that time might just have arrived. Gabriel Paulista has been nothing short of spectacular in the two games he has played in Mertesacker’s absence, even forming an admirable partnership with Koscielny, and has been vital in our two clean sheets of the season.
Basically, Arsenal haven’t conceded a goal in any game he has played in from pre-season till now, and rightfully there are now calls in some quarters for him to remain in the starting XI.
Mertesacker looks likely to be the one to be sacrificed if Wenger decided to keep Paulista in the starting XI, so Stoke City’s game provides an opportunity for him more than anyone to start putting spectacular performances that will make him un-removable from the starting line-up when fit.
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