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Stoke V Arsenal at Britannia Stadium : Match Preview
Published : 26 Aug 2012 09:50:47
Pulis highlights importance of `special atmosphere'
Stoke manager Tony Pulis expects a 'special atmosphere' at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday when the club host Arsenal in their first home game of the season. Recent clashes with the Gunners have acquired an edge with the last meeting between the sides in the Potteries in April marred by home fans' booing of visiting midfielder Aaron Ramsey and manager Arsene Wenger. The animosity dates back to an incident two-and-a-half years ago when Ramsey's leg was badly broken in a tackle from Stoke's Ryan Shawcross, who has since been booed by Arsenal fans. Ahead of the latest clash, Pulis has highlighted the positives for which Stoke fans have become renowned and hopes they can again prove an important factor in his side's season. Pulis, speaking at his preview press conference, said: "It's always a special atmosphere for these games. They always look forward to this game. There are five or six really big games in a season and this is right up there with them. "It is important we maintain that atmosphere that is so special when they get going. People talk about it but it is true. It is a massive help to us as a football team. Without them I don't think we would have achieved what we have achieved." Tony Pulis has no fresh injury concerns ahead of their Barclays Premier League match against Arsenal at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday. But Dean Whitehead is serving a one-match ban after he was dismissed in last weekend's opening league game at Reading. American summer signing Geoff Cameron is available and should begin training with his new side after he was cleared to enter the country on Thursday. Jermaine Pennant could return to the squad after recovering from the thigh injury which kept him out from the game against the Royals.
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal will only move for a "special player" in the closing days of the transfer window. The Gunners sold former captain Robin van Persie to Manchester United and last week saw defensive midfielder Alex Song move to Barcelona, bringing in the best part of £40million. Wenger is expected to add some more fresh faces after the summer arrivals of Spain midfielder Santi Cazorla, who impressed on his debut, German striker Lukas Podolski and France forward Olivier Giroud. A season-long loan deal for Real Madrid's Turkey international Nuri Sahin is "not alive", according to the Arsenal manager, who has also been linked with Sevilla winger Jesus Navas and Rennes' £17million-rated midfielder Yann M'Vila. However, Wenger insists if the club move again in the market, it will have to be for the right man. "We will only take players who have something special," said the Arsenal manager. "We are still in the market in some positions, but overall we believe we have a very strong squad. "We have a good mixture because we have experienced players in midfield like [Mikel] Arteta and [Santi] Cazorla, like [Tomas] Rosicky, and some young very promising players like [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain, [Aaron] Ramsey, [Francis] Coquelin, [Jack] Wilshere and one or two in between age wise like [Abou] Diaby, who is coming back. We believe we have a good mixture." Arsenal will assess goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who has a minor rib problem, ahead of Sunday's trip to Stoke. England winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ankle) is fit again, along with reserve keeper Lukasz Fabianski (back). However, defender Laurent Koscielny (calf) will again miss out, along with Tomas Rosicky (hamstring). Midfielder Jack Wilshere (ankle) continues his rehabilitation from an ankle injury as does defender Bacary Sagna (broken leg).
Stoke V Arsenal - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game live.