Stoke V Arsenal at Britannia Stadium : Match Preview
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Hughes confirms Olic interest
Stoke boss Mark Hughes has confirmed the club's interest in signing Wolfsburg and Croatia striker Ivica Olic.
Olic, whose current contract runs out in the summer, was quoted in the last few days by Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List as saying he had held talks with Hughes and the Potters hierarchy. He said he had been made an offer by the Staffordshire outfit and that he was yet to choose between that and an offer of a new deal from Wolfsburg.
Asked on Friday about the 34-year-old, Hughes said: "It is fair to say he is an interesting player - one I have faced in the past and have always been impressed with.
"There is an interest there and we'll see how it progresses."
Hughes has also given his thoughts on the contract situations of Stoke stalwart Andy Wilkinson.
Defender Wilkinson, a Potters academy graduate, is on a deal that expires at the end of the season.
He has already indicated he has been offered a new one and that, despite his frustration at a lack of game time this term, he hopes to stay put.
Hughes said of the 29-year-old: "We'd like Andy to stay - I think he typifies the Stoke attitude and he has good ability.
"He is a local guy, has been here a long time and is very much part of the fabric of the place, and you can't have too many of those type of players in your club.
"So we'll be delighted if Andy can agree a new deal and is here for a longer time."
Stoke will check on the condition of Peter Odemwingie ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League home clash with Arsenal after he sustained a calf problem.
Fellow Potters forward Jon Walters has missed a couple of days of training this week due to illness but is expected to be available, and on-loan Manchester City striker John Guidetti is eligible once again after sitting out last weekend's defeat at his parent club.
Defender Robert Huth, who last played for the Stoke first team in November and has been recovering from knee surgery, successfully came through 45 minutes of a behind-closed-doors friendly on Tuesday but is not yet ready for a competitive return. On-loan Liverpool winger Oussama Assaidi (knee) remains sidelined.
Mesut Ozil will return after hip trouble and a two-day rest for Arsenal.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger will leave a decision on whether or not to field fit-again defender Thomas Vermaelen at left-back to the last minute.
Nacho Monreal (ankle) and Kieran Gibbs (gluteus) both remain doubtful, and if neither make it back in time for the Potters clash, Wenger could deploy Vermaelen, fully recovered from a shin problem, on the left of his defence.
Tony Pulis' muscular Stoke side intimidated Arsenal's cosmopolitan crew into untold headaches over the years, but now new boss Hughes is battling to expand that regimented gameplan.
Wenger admitted Arsenal may be more suited to taking on a team built by the former Manchester United and Wales striker than facing up to Pulis' pressgang tactics.
"We had some bad memories but also some good ones as well," said Wenger.
"It's a stadium where before, first of all the pitch was narrow and difficult to play, a bit more open to the wind.
"But recently we have shown as well it's down to the performance on the day.
"If you perform on Saturday that's all that counts.
"Yes it probably is better for us now though, because we went sometimes to Stoke, who had a rough style, we had young players and it was difficult.
"But they have good players, they have done well in the league, they qualified for the Europa league.
"So they are a real challenge.
"Every manager has his own style, he (Hughes) has experience and has shown he can do well.
"Given time he will print his own style of play."
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