x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Arsenal on another level, says Pulis

The Stoke City manager is happy to admit Arsenal are in a different class to his team and they need to be switched on right away.

Robin van Persie, the Arsenal striker, will miss the match tonight at home against Stoke City through injury.
Robin van Persie, the Arsenal striker, will miss the match tonight at home against Stoke City through injury.

UPDATE: Sebastien Squillaci helps Arsenal move closer to Man Utd

Tony Pulis, the Stoke City manager, has warned his players they face a potential heavy defeat at Arsenal tonight if they are not "switched on".

Pulis is happy to admit Arsenal are in a different class to his team, in particular after viewing last week's stunning Champions League win over Barcelona up close.

Ignoring the shock FA Cup draw at Leyton Orient on Sunday when Arsene Wenger fielded a weakened side, Pulis knows the French manager is likely to parade his strongest possible line-up as the Gunners look to close the gap at the top of the table to one point on leaders Manchester United.

"I went to their game with Barcelona, and it was a fantastic game," said Pulis, whose side visit the Emirates Stadium for what is a rearranged fixture that was initially postponed before Christmas due to bad weather.

"For all of Barcelona's dominance, and they were very dominant at times, Arsenal still had very good chances. Robin van Persie could have scored a hat-trick.

"Arsenal will be delighted to be 2-1 ahead and heading out for the return with a great opportunity of going through. It means the second game will be a great one.

"But in watching that game I can say we're not on their level, I think everybody accepts that. So we just have to go there and do our best, and that's what we'll do.

"We have to be switched on. It's a game we know will be very, very difficult, even if we play at our best. If we don't, then we're in trouble."

Van Persie and Laurent Koscielny will miss the match for Arsenal after picking up hamstring and back injuries respectively.

Wenger described the injuries as "short-term" and hopes the pair will be fit for Sunday's Carling Cup final against Birmingham City.

Johan Djourou missed the FA Cup draw with Leyton Orient with a back problem but is now fully fit and will start at the Emirates Stadium.

Abou Diaby is suspended and long-term absentees Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles) and Lukasz Fabianski (shoulder) remain sidelined.

Arsenal had some good news yesterday with Barcelona revealing Xavi, their influential midfielder, has been ruled out for seven to 10 days with a leg injury, which will leave the Spaniard battling to return in time for the second leg of their Champions League match.

The last 16 tie will be played on March 8 at Camp Nou.

 

11.45pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 3 & 5