Stoke City vs. Arsenal: Preview, Live Stream, Start Time and More
Currently in third place, the Gunners need a win to help them stay in the Champions League group qualifying places. Newcastle United is nipping at their heels, just three points behind with a game in hand.
Stoke is wallowing in mid-table obscurity for another season. The Potters are not going to be relegated, but it's not going to be booking flights to continental Europe next season, either. At this point, it's just a matter of pride.
Where: Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, England
When: Saturday, April 28 at 10 a.m. EDT
Live Stream: ESPN3
Is it next season already?
With the title chase firmly a two-horse race at this point, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has at least partially turned his attention to next season, telling The Independent that "the team is getting more experienced and hopefully we have got the experience to win trophies next year."
Where will Arsenal finish this season?
Not to be deterred from the not-yet-finished 2011/12 season, he said, "We have got three games to go, and we need to win all three, and we will finish third."
At least he's not completely distracted from the task at hand.
Stoke spiritless in Newcastle defeat
Stoke midfielder Glenn Whelan said his team looked lifeless in its 3-0 loss to Newcastle last week. He gave Newcastle credit as "a top side and one that can make the Champions League." Whelan also insisted that Stoke is keen on finishing in the top 10 of the Premier League table.
However, this is an example of not having anything left to play for.
Finishing in the top 10 may be a matter of great pride, but it doesn't compare to European soccer, for which both Arsenal and Newcastle are still in the running.
Walcott out until Euros
Theo Walcott's hamstring injury he suffered in the London derby against Chelsea last weekend will keep him out for Arsenal's last three games.
This is a case when trying to play through pain was a bad idea, as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told The Guardian: "We assessed the hamstring [injury], but he wanted to stay on the pitch. I think he should have come off straight away because the second time, it was a real hamstring [problem]."
Form favors the Gunners
Here's a look at both teams' form in the last 11 games in all competitions:
Arsenal: TLWWLWWWWWW (8-1-2)
Stoke: LTWLTTLLWWL (3-3-5)
Even more telling are the goals for and goals against statistics during those games. Arsenal scored 22 and gave up seven (plus-15 difference), while Stoke scored nine and gave up 13 (minus-four).
Prediction: Arsenal wins, 2-1
After being slammed by fans and media for their lackluster defeat at Newcastle, Stoke will come out flying in this home game, eager to prove its critics wrong. Stoke may even take the lead.
However, Arsenal's quality and motivation for a result will come through in the end. Even without Walcott, Robin van Persie is still available, and his influence will help Arsenal put a couple past Asmir Begovic.
In the end, Arsenal will escape with a narrow and valuable away win.
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