Welcome to Talking Heads.

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

Arsenal took on Stoke City in the Premier League on Sunday and our Talking Heads for this game were former Gunner Paul Davis and Julian Harris of Gingers For Limpar.

Read on for their views on the Gunners' trip to the Britannia Stadium.

Paul Davis

I thought were unlucky on Sunday and could easily have come away with all three points. Arsenal had the majority of the play - especially in the first half - but they lacked a cutting edge when they got into the final third. That has to be expected at this stage of the season given the new personnel up front. I have to say I was very impressed with Olivier Giroud's hold-up play - he caused Stoke's experienced centre backs some serious problems. Obviously he still needs to work on his link-up play and combinations with the likes of Santi Cazorla, but the signs are promising. The goals will come but it's great to see that Arsenal are so defensively sound. Thomas Vermaelen and company dealt with Peter Crouch pretty comfortably and Mikel Arteta's positioning in front of the back four gives the defence extra protection.

This kind of away trip is always difficult because Stoke play a different kind of football to most Premier League teams. They execute their direct style very well, attacking down the flanks and using Jon Walters intelligently - he competes in midfield but also gets forward to good effect. Arsenal have a few players who may not have experienced the Stoke style before and the atmosphere at the Britannia is always interesting, so a lot depends on how well they settle and how quickly they can find their usual rhythm. I was away for the Sunderland game so I missed Cazorla's debut but I heard very good things, and I'm looking forward to seeing Podolski and Giroud as well. Arsène Wenger has a strong passing philosophy so, while other managers might adapt their approach because it's Stoke, I expect him to ask his team to play their usual game. I remember George Graham used to encourage us not to knock it around at the back and get the ball forward quickly against teams who wanted to stop us passing, but Arsène will put his faith in his players and in his philosophy.

Gingers For Limpar

Only three players named in Saturday’s first XI for Arsenal also started April’s game against Stoke (Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs and Gervinho). To some extent this was reflected in the match. Arsenal had a much taller line-up than usual, while Arsène Wenger noted that Stoke - predictably - fielded “six basketball players, size-wise”. More of the game was played in the air compared to April, and Arsenal coped well. While Robin van Persie did not compete for a single aerial duel on our last visit to the Britannia, his replacement Olivier Giroud competed for a dozen headers this time around, winning five. Meanwhile at the back Per Mertesacker largely snuffed out the aerial threat of Peter Crouch. But despite this difference, the end result was the same, with Arsenal failing to find a way through Stoke’s stubborn back line and coming away with just a point. By no means a disastrous result, yet Arsenal’s new-look attack needs to quickly find a way to unpick these sorts of defences. The boys showed more than enough character on Saturday, but lacked the necessaryinnovation in the final third.

I recall Abou Diaby being made to stand at the near corner of the six-yard box every time that Stoke won a throw-in at the Britannia, a couple of years ago. The tactic largely paid off as the big Frenchman dealt with most of the balls that Rory Delap and company pelted into the box. While I doubt this is how Diaby would like to spend his Saturday afternoons, I suspect that Arsène Wenger will name him in the starting XI for the second game running and perhaps deploy a similar method to mitigate the threat from Stoke’s throw-ins and corners. Such antics may surprise some of the newer members of the squad, such as little Santi Cazorla. Having been thwarted through the middle by a Sunderland team that defended deep and tight, Cazorla and his new colleagues could need to make more use of wide areas to break down Stoke’s similarly determined back line. Yossi Benayoun did this excellently in April's game against Stoke, and Arsenal’s goal came from a superb Tomas Rosicky cross from the left wing. Our boys may need similar innovation, as well as a lot of character, to secure three points this time around.

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

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28 Aug 2012