Welcome to a new feature on Arsenal.com - Talking Heads.

Before and after every first-team fixture our MatchDay Show team - and an Arsenal blogger - will have their say on the match.

Arsenal take on Stoke City in the Premier League on Sunday and our Talking Heads for this game were Dan Roebuck, Stephen Hughes and Julian Harris from Gingers for Limpar.

Read on for their post-match thoughts and recap what they said before the game.

Dan Roebuck - Arsenal Live

Another welcome win from a game that was eerily similar to last Sunday's victory over Sunderland. As in that game Arsenal started brightly, conceded an equaliser against the run of play, lost their way, regrouped at half time and saw their captain turn one point into three. Robin van Persie has replaced Cesc Fabregas as the talisman and it was striking how much he lifted the team when he came on, but let's give Gervinho credit because he made both second-half goals with his pace and directness - and he scored one himself of course. Laurent Koscielny was excellent in defence and Aaron Ramsey seems to be growing in stature with every game. Promising signs indeed.

Stoke City are no one's idea of a dream opponent but they don't have a great record at the Emirates and they might not be as sharp as usual after a Thursday night game in the Europa League. Arsenal were in Europe in midweek as well but that extra 24 hours of recovery - and the depth of their squad - could be significant. I expect Aaron Ramsey to start after enjoying a breather and Gervinho might come into the equation as well. It's good to see Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker's partnership growing by the game and their aerial prowess will be under the microscope. Fortunately they have a keeper behind them who will relish the chance to command his area and relieve the pressure from Stoke's dead-ball deliveries.

Stephen Hughes

First and foremost it was a great result. From a performance perspective Robin van Persie is going to get all the plaudits again but defensively I thought Arsenal were very, very good. There was another outstanding display from Koscielny again. All in all it was maybe the best performance of the season and we'll move onto the next game with lots of confidence. That's six wins in seven games now and, all of a sudden, that top-four place looks completely realistic. Arsenal still look nervous when they concede goals but if they can get that out of their system they will be fine.

Arsenal are going into this game on the back of a decent run of results. Five wins in six is not to be sniffed at and even the one defeat in that run - against Tottenham - showed signs that Arsène Wenger's side are beginning to gel. You know exactly what you are going to get against Stoke - a real physical test - so Arsenal will have to compete first and earn the right to play their football. When they get the ball they need penetration as well as possession but with Robin van Persie in fine form they should have enough cutting edge to pick up three more points.


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Arsenal’s last back-to-back league wins came all the way back in February – and also against Stoke. So much for a bogey team. This was Arsenal’s fourth straight home league win against the Potters since they gained promotion in 2008. While Stoke remain a tough (and sometimes brutal) opponent away from home, Tony Pulis shows a lack of ambition with his tactics when visiting the Emirates. His side had just one effort on target all game (the goal), and only one corner. Credit of course should be given to Wenger’s boys, who dominated with 66 per cent possession. Ramsey completed a mightily impressive 83 passes, losing the ball just four times. His clipped through-ball for the opener was delightful, leading to Gervinho’s uncompromising finish. Gervinho’s direct style may be untidy at times, but it’s also refreshing for many Gooners, and he was brilliantly effective in the second half. His link-up play with Robin van Persie bodes well for the rest of the season. Good signing, Boss – and from everyone at Gingers for Limpar, we hope you had a cracking birthday on Saturday. Onwards and upwards…

Gosh - it appears that this is Arsenal’s 100th league game at the new stadium. And for the celebration, we welcome back Tony Pulis and his gang of party-poppers. While games away at Stoke are fairly predictable, their tactics at the Emirates tend to differ. Last season Stoke sat back, often leaving ten men behind the ball. I expect they will do the same this time, and will be rather tough to break down, so Arsenal will have to improve in the final third. Despite wins in the last two games, the team has struggled to make things count in front of goal. Over 80 per cent of Arsenal possession in Marseille happened in the middle of the pitch or in our own third, and only four chances were created all game. Yet a win’s a win so let's hope confidence will see the team continue to improve. And hopefully the crowd will stay in the ground for the subsequent Under-18s game against Chelsea - an excellent initiative by the Club.

* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband Ltd.

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24 Oct 2011