Stoke always give Arsenal hell don’t they? In some respects yes, but one important caveat suggests that the Gunners aren’t the 17/50 betting slip blot in banker’s clothing that they may appear.
Mark Hughes’ Potters are a 31/4 shot for victory at the Emirates and it’s 15/4 that the honours and the points are shared.
In time memory takes an artist’s brush to history, evoking broad and compelling themes where once there may have been nuance and cause for pragmatism.
The Gunners’ clashes with Stoke are a classic example, reduced in casual hindsight to a tale of candy-striped belligerence frustrating and confounding Arsenal artistry.
That City have avoided defeat in five of their last 11 meetings with the north London side would seem to illustrate that point.
Or it would, if not for the fact that the four matches they have lost represent the sum total of away meetings with Arsene Wenger’s men in that period.
In the last three seasons the Potters haven’t managed more than 15 goals in an entire league campaign on the road, surviving on the draws their muscular defence helps glean.
As a result the Gunners needn’t fear a barrage of shots on Wojciech Szczesny’s goal and they should be able to register at least once against a Stoke rearguard that conceded 23 goals in their 19 Premier League away trips last term to claim the points.
After all, only Everton have managed to leave the Emirates with their linen unsullied in the last 11 Premier League games.
With Mark Hughes seemingly content to leave Stoke’s beautification programme on simmer it’s unlikely we’ll see them try to take on the Gunners in the attacking stakes and a low-scoring contest looks in the offing.
Backing under 2.5 goals should present fine recompense for taking an interest in a potentially dour fixture at pretty special odds of 21/20.
In addition it’s impossible not to mention the goalscoring form of Aaron Ramsey at the moment, with the Welshman having notched seven times in nine games across all competitions in 2013/14.
It’s distinctly possible that one goal may be enough to decide this contest making the 17/2 on him scoring last look an attractive wager, especially as five of those seven strikes have come in the second half.