x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Wenger encourages Arsenal players to set the tempo against Stoke

The Frenchman feels Arsenal must aim to dictate their own style on Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.

Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal to stick to their passing principles. Stuart MacFarlane / Getty Images
Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal to stick to their passing principles. Stuart MacFarlane / Getty Images

Arsene Wenger feels Arsenal must aim to dictate their own style on Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.

The Gunners opened the new Premier League campaign with a frustrating goalless draw at home to Sunderland, and Wenger accepts his men must find their cutting edge again after the sale of captain Robin van Persie to Manchester United.

A trip to Stoke may not be the ideal platform for that, but Wenger remains confident if his side play their usual quick, passing game, then whatever Stoke may throw at them will not matter.

"It is a bit of a fight for who dictates his style. If we manage to do that I enjoy it, if we do not manage to do that I don't enjoy it at all because then you really suffer at Stoke," Wenger said. "It a question of being strong enough to dictate your style."

Wenger is fully aware of just what to expect today.

"You know you need some qualities when you go to Stoke which are different. You need to be good in the air, of course," he said.

"However, Stoke changed their style last year when they played more on the ground because of being in Europe. I think it will go on like that."

Wenger maintains every side must be free to set up how they choose, but feels Arsenal should always remain fully committed to their own unique persona.

"There is no bad style, just different styles," he added.

"I believe just one thing that when you have one style you have to go to the end of it and be strong - that is what has driven us to do well."

At 6ft 6 ins, centre-half Per Mertesacker will certainly give Arsenal an added physical presence to reply to the expected aerial bombardment.

However, the German - who missed the end of last season with an ankle injury - accepts the Gunners must be ready to match Stoke's challenge from kick off.

"I hope to adapt quickly to Stoke and the situation and the way they play," Mertesacker said. "We have done a lot of things [in training] concerning set pieces, throw-ins and crosses."

Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, will have to do without the suspended midfielder Dean Whitehead today, but is looking forward to strong home support.

"It's always a special atmosphere for these games," said Pulis.

"They [the fans] always look forward to this game. There are five or six really big games in a season and this is right up there with them.

"It is important we maintain that atmosphere that is so special when they get going.

"People talk about it but it is true. It is a massive help to us as a football team."

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