Arsène Wenger is expecting a thorough examination of his team’s title credentials at Stoke City on Sunday afternoon.

Mark Hughes’ side have impressed in 2015/16 and head into the weekend’s game just four points from a Champions League place.

Stoke have already beaten Chelsea and both Manchester sides at Britannia Stadium this season, which Wenger believes stems from the Potters “improving their creative potential”.

We have had difficulties at Stoke, they have a good record against us in recent years

“We have had difficulties at Stoke, they have a good record against us in recent years and I must say as well they have overall a good record against Man United, City, the big teams,” the boss said.

“They have done very well. they have moved forward as well because they have improved their creative potential with players like Arnautovic, Afellay, Shaqiri, Bojan - they can create and play.

“It is a good challenge for us as well because they have to maintain their record and we can show we have taken a big step forward and can beat them. It is an opportunity we want to take.

“I would say Stoke are sharper because when we played them they were in a bit of a difficult patch and had some bad injuries. Since then, they have developed well and have moved forward well in the league, with some convincing results.

“I’m convinced that both teams have moved forward since [the game at Emirates Stadium].

“It is a similar test to Liverpool where on our side we need the same intensity again four days later and the same desire and focus again. What we have learned in this Premier League… you think ‘How many surprises we have seen today? That will not happen again’. The week after it happened again, and again and again, since the start of the season.

“That shows the consistency of your focus, the consistency of your determination, will certainly play a big part in the outcome of this league.”

Theo Walcott celebrates scoring against Stoke City in September
Theo Walcott celebrates scoring against Stoke City in September

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Nik Brumsack 15 Jan 2016