MATCH PREVIEW: Arsenal must find a way to deal with Delap
PUBLISHED: 11:51 30 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:33 07 September 2010
Stoke v Arsenal Premier League Saturday The Britannia Stadium kick-off 3pm Arsenal can be forgiven if they are a little apprehensive as they travel to the Britannia Stadium for their first league match in the Potteries for 23 years,especially since th
Stoke v Arsenal
The Britannia Stadium
Arsenal can be forgiven if they are a little apprehensive as they travel to the Britannia Stadium for their first league match in the Potteries for 23 years,especially since they may still be shell-shocked from Wednesday's night's traumatic collapse against Tottenham.
Tony Pulis's spirited side have boundless enthusiasm and belief, which is making their neat and tidy home a tough place for visitors, as Sunderland discovered to their cost when they lost 1-0 there on Wednesday.
Aston Villa (3-2) and Tottenham (2-1) have also been humbled by a physical team who refused to be easily beaten. They may have been stranded in the bottom three prior to Wednesday night's visit of Sunderland, but they already look like a side which will make a fist of their long-awaited return to top-flight football.
Everton (2-3) and Chelsea (0-2) have both left with all three points, but it was far from easy. The Merseysiders, in particular, were fortunate to head north with victory.
Stoke rely heavily on the monstrous throw-in of former Ireland star Rory Delap, followed by head tennis in the opponents' penalty area.
It has proved an effective, albeit ugly, weapon and one that Arsenal's brittle central defence could easily struggle with.
On their last league visit to the old Victoria Ground, a rusty old arena which once hosted the likes of Stanley Matthews, Gordon Banks and former Highbury favourite George Eastham in its pomp, Arsenal were well beaten 2-0.
Stoke, however, were relegated a few weeks later and obscurity lay before them for nearly a quarter of a century.
That defeat was back in March 1985, but Arsenal fared better in 1990 with a 1-0 win in the FA Cup, courtesy of Niall Quinn's late strike.
Stoke's star is Jamaican Ricardo Fuller, whose pace and invention could easily undo Arsene Wenger's side.
The warning signs are there - just ask Spurs.