Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.

Former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson will give his pre-match view and you can get his post-match verdict in our Talking Tactics feature on Arsenal Player.

Arsène Wenger and his side face Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday so, to find out more, we also asked local journalist Mike Baggaley for his analysis.

Stewart Robson

"Stoke City played poorly at Newcastle United last week but at home they pose a far greater threat. Peter Crouch is in good form and combines well with Jon Walters, who makes clever runs to profit from the former Spurs striker’s link-up play. Matthew Etherington failed to make an impact last week but he is vital to Stoke's attacking play on the left flank.

"Although they lack technical quality in midfield, Stoke are tigerish in the tackle and win a lot of loose balls. Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse gave their defence a tough time last week but Robin van Persie and co will need to be at their best to break them down."

Scouting Report - Tactics

"At their best, Stoke will play with two wingers in Matthew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant. The two central midfielders I would probably guess will be Dean Whitehead and Glenn Whelan - they are really hard-working, box-to-box players who do a lot of the spade work. The two wingers also work very hard but there is a lot of reliance on them to create out wide.

"Jon Walters plays just behind Peter Crouch up front and he covers enormous distances during the game. He has played an awful lot this season and may well feature for the Republic of Ireland at Euro 2012 in the summer.

"Crouch is their top goalscorer with 13 goals and he has been excellent - he rarely misses an opportunity to score. But generally speaking their successes this season have been built on a solid defence. Stoke have scored the fewest number of goals in the entire league but at the back they have been very good with Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross excellent in the middle.

"I don't know, in reality, how much the physical side of Stoke's game has had an impact on Arsenal at the Britannia in recent years. But I do feel as though Stoke like trying to prove a point because there seems to be a little bit of a grudge between themselves and Arsenal. Certainly the supporters take that point of view, they enjoy beating Arsenal more than most other sides.

"But for some reason Stoke have had that success which they haven't particularly had over the other teams in the top four or five. Having said that, none of the top sides apart from Newcastle have won at the Britannia this season so that is something they will be looking to continue on Saturday.

"I think Pennant is key for them if fit. He was ill against Newcastle but he really does give Stoke a creative spark. He can go past players and run with the ball, which is important to the defence as well because he can take it out from the back and give them breathing space. His set-piece delivery is also excellent and because he takes on players he tends to win free-kicks as well.

"I am reluctant to say it will be an in-your-face performance from Stoke but I do think they will look to close Arsenal down. The crowd will certainly get behind them, which has generally been the case in the bigger games here. Stoke will be looking to deny Arsenal space and get plenty of balls into the box, although Wojciech Szczesny has obviously emerged as a very good goalkeeper.

"As usual they will look to use set-pieces to their advantage. They don't apologise for that, they work very hard on them and score a huge percentage of their goals that way. I think Stoke are a due a win myself so I will say 2-1."

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    26 Apr 2012