With three games left of the season and Champions League football on the line, Arsenal head to Stoke this Saturday knowing that anything less than a win would bring to an end any chances the Gunners have of snatching a spot in that top four.
Though, the newly renamed ‘Bet 365’ Stadium has been a horrible ground for Arsenal when visiting down the years.
The Gunners have not won there in the league since February 2010, which was subsequently their only league win there since Stoke were promoted to the Premier League back in 2008.
But why exactly is this ground such a daunting one for all involved with the club?
Previous horror shows…
Stoke City 2-1 Arsenal – November 2008
Arsenal’s first ever Premier League visit to the then named ‘Britannia Stadium’, and it was most certainly one to forget. This was the afternoon which saw the birth of the Rory Delap ‘long throw’ as the Gunners could not deal with the Potters’ direct approach.
Stoke City 3-1 Arsenal – May 2011
Another woeful afternoon in Staffordshire as Stoke all but ended Arsenal’s faint title hopes in the May sunshine. Stoke raced in to a 2-0 half time lead through goals from Kenwyne Jones and Jermaine Pennant, and Jon Walters added a third after Robin Van Persie had pulled one back for the away side.
Stoke City 3-2 Arsenal – December 2014
The Gunners most recent defeat at Stoke saw the home side incredibly 3-0 at half time following goals from Peter Crouch, Jon Walters and Bojan. Though a penalty from Santi Cazorla and a great volley from Aaron Ramsey almost salvaged something for Arsenal. Though it was yet another disastrous trip for Arsene Wenger’s side.
Why do Arsenal struggle so badly?
For any team in the Premier League, a trip to Stoke is always a tricky one, and if you come away with three points you always know that you’ve had to really work for them.
But Arsenal in particular always seem to have a right nightmare of a time whenever visiting. Stoke fans relish the visit of Arsene Wenger’s side, following his comments about their style of football, rattling former boss Tony Pulis.
Aaron Ramsey is also a touchy subject when visiting Stoke after a tackle from Ryan Shawcross broke the Welshman’s leg during Arsenal’s last victory at the ground, back in 2010. Since then, Ramsey has strangely been subject to abuse from fans.
Stoke always make it difficult for Arsenal whenever they visit. Predominantly down the years, each and every Stoke team has been physical and have been able to get under the skin of Arsenal sides down the years, not allowing them to play their normal free-flowing football.
Saturday’s game is massive for Arsenal, in the context that they simply have to win if they’re to get Champions League football next season. This could be seen as the perfect time for the Gunners to play Stoke, as Mark Hughes’ side have taken their foot off the pedal in the last few months, as their season has petered out.
Will Saturday FINALLY be the day where Arsenal shake off their Stoke hoodoo and take one giant step to a top four finish?