By Nick Teale
Last season Premier League teams found Stoke a difficult place to go. Manchester United only won with a late goal after the Potters were reduced to 10 men, Liverpool were held to a goalless draw and Arsenal suffered defeat.
Stoke have lost less than one in four games at the Britannia Stadium since winning promotion to the top flight but on the road have only won 12 per cent of their fixtures.
They suffered a 4-1 defeat at Emirates Stadium on the last day of last season but after a good start to this season, they'll be hoping that scoreline doesn't repeat itself on Saturday.
Martin Spinks covers Tony Pulis' side for the Stoke Sentinel and told Arsenal.com that the Potters have had an excellent start to the season.
THE STORY SO FAR
"It's been a terrific start really. To be in the top 10 after 14 games is beyond everybody's wildest dreams. I think we all feared it would be a bit of a slog towards the wrong end of the table but as things stand they've got 20 points and that's halfway towards the magic 40 needed to achieve a third season in the Premier League."
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
"The first priority for the next two or three years has always got to be safety first but with points in the bag some people are beginning to look a bit higher than that. The manager in particular is trying to keep a lid on ambitions and expectations. He doesn't want people getting carried away with talk of getting into the Europa League and I think he's right about that. We know how quickly things can turn in the Premier League, the best example of that is Reading who two years ago were enjoying a similar start to their second season and ended up being relegated on the last day of the season."
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
"There's a portion of supporters who want more than good results; they want to see good performances too. There have been some average displays even when they have won and the last home game against Portsmouth [a 1-0 win] is a good example of that. They aren't an open team at the moment; very rarely will they go hell-for-leather. They've struggled for goals [13 in the league so far] and struggled to create chances so far this season. James Beattie has struggled for fitness too and has played a little bit deeper as well. Ricardo Fuller has struggled for goals; he only got his first of the season against Portsmouth two weeks ago but he has played well this season."
THE EMIRATES EFFECT
"The fans have sold out their allocation and sell out most away trips. The novelty has worn off a little the second time around but Emirates Stadium is a big trip for supporters of any club. It's a fantastic stadium and the fans will be down there in good voice."
"By reputation Tony Pulis is a very cautious manager. He's wary of what happened at Emirates Stadium on the last day of last season. He knows that Arsenal can tear teams apart in the blink of an eye if you go there and play too open. Stoke will be strong and solid and try to take their chances on the break and from set pieces. Physically, Stoke are bigger than Arsenal so set pieces will be vital for the Potters if they're to get anything from the game."