Sort your barnet out mate
Let's just put it out there straight away - the current Stoke team plays far more good football than any we've seen in recent years. They have the likes of Bojan and Shaqiri playing some lovely stuff at the top end of the pitch, with Arnautovic looking a better footballer than he did up to now. However, they also still have Ryan Shawcross, Charlie Adam, Arnautovic and Jon Walters. They are not short of kickers and thugs. As a squad they now reflect every facet of Mark Hughes when he was a player - wonderful ability but downright dirty.
I imagine that Stoke's thugs are the thing that is playing most on Arsene Wenger's mind when it comes to giving Mohamed Elneny his Arsenal debut. Is the new boy sufficiently aware of what he might be walking in to if he starts the game tomorrow? It wouldn't surprise me to see the new man starting as a substitute so that he can get a good look at just how hard the game can be in a Premier League midfield. It seems more likely to my eyes that we will see Ramsey and Flamini in midfield again tomorrow and both of them must be more aware of their role than they have been in recent matches. Flamini mustn't move from in front of the defence, and Ramsey simply has to be told that it isn't all about him in the Arsenal team. Yes, he scores the odd goal, but his constant giving up of possession with his insistence on trying to be clever is more than a frustration. The simple fact is that Aaron Ramsey isn't as good a footballer as he thinks he is. He is living on a six-month spell two seasons ago and that isn't enough.
Wenger seems very reluctant to bring in Alexis Sanchez who constantly seems to be on the verge of a comeback. Interestingly, to me at least, is the fact that he hasn't featured in the training photos in the last couple of weeks which tells me he might not actually be in full training after all. Theo Walcott, his goal against Manchester City aside, has failed to impress on a recent run in the side and has been totally outshone by Joel Campbell. If Alexis is back tomorrow it has to be Theo that he replaces as far as I'm concerned. Meanwhile Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks a shadow of the young prospect he was a couple of years ago. What I would say is that he started this season scoring a cracking winner at Wembley in the Charity Shield so he's not so far away from his best form as we maybe think right now. That being said, I don't see a quick way back in to the starting XI for The Ox any time soon.
The draw at Liverpool the other night adds some pressure to our result tomorrow. I suspect most of us would have been happy with four points from six out of these two fixtures going in to them. However, we threw away two of those points on Wednesday night making tomorrow a game that we really have to win. We have failed to take so many opportunities to put daylight between ourselves and Manchester City that we can't afford to drop many more points. As my brother said yesterday, City won't keep dropping these points, and they've played almost all of the more difficult away games in the first half of the season - the total opposite to us. Other big teams have already fallen over at Stoke this season, and we have an abysmal record there, so the omens are not good. All the more reason to get business done and send the zombies back to their slums unhappy.