Pre-Match Report

Reserves: Arsenal v Stoke City - Preview

By Declan Taylor

Amaury Bischoff and Mikael Silvestre have been named in the Arsenal Reserves line-up to face Stoke City at Underhill this evening.

Injuries have prevented the pair from featuring for the Club since their summer transfers but both players will make their first appearance against the Potters’ second string.

Silvestre is fully fit after a muscular strain and the former Manchester United star looks set to partner Kyle Bartley in the centre of defence as Neil Banfield makes four changes to the back five that lost to Aston Villa. Wojciech Szczesny comes in for Vito Mannone between the sticks while Luke Ayling, Kieran Gibbs and Silvestre replace Gavin Hoyte, Tom Cruise and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas respectively.

Bischoff has been recovering from a groin injury since his move from Werder Bremen and he will slot into midfield alongside Jack Wilshere, Mark Randall and Francis Coquelin. Henri Lansbury and Emmanuel Frimpong, who lined up against the Villans, miss out with the latter selected amongst the substitutes.

“The manager thought Bischoff and Silvestre need a game,” said Banfield. “Mikael asked to play, he’s a good pro and he feels he needs a run-out so that will be good for him. Amaury will play as part of his rehabilitation so everything is coming along fine.”

Last season the most goals that the Reserves conceded in any match was two but that number has been surpassed twice already in 2008/09. Chelsea managed three on the opening day and the four hit by Villa condemned Banfield’s boys to their heaviest defeat since losing 6-0 at Reading in October 2006. The inclusion of five-time Premier League winner Silvestre will add some vital experience to the back-line.

Stoke’s first season in the Premier Reserve League South has not started very brightly with just one point registered in their opening two games and they will be hoping to secure their first victory in Barnet.

Perhaps the most notable inclusion in the Potters’ line-up is Tom Soares. The deadline-day signing from Crystal Palace played the last 25 minutes of Stoke’s 2-1 Premier League defeat at Portsmouth yesterday and he will pose a real creative threat from midfield.

“I think you know what you are going to get with Stoke, we know how Tony Pulis sets his sides out and I imagine it is the same throughout the club,” said Banfield. “They really work hard at their game and they always put you under pressure when you’ve got the ball and I think it will be a very difficult game tonight.

“Obviously the whole squad are disappointed with the Villa result and they want to do themselves justice. It may have been some of them still feeling the effects of the Carling Cup game on the Tuesday beforehand but hopefully we will get back on track tonight.”

You can watch a live video stream of the clash on Arsenal TV Online tonight.

The game will kick off at 7pm but coverage starts in the LIVE channel from 6.30pm with all the pre-match build-up and team news.

For those who miss our live video stream of Monday's game, extended highlights and post-match reaction will be available on Tuesday.

How do you access our live coverage? It's simple. Subscribe to Arsenal TV Online now and you'll get the best view possible as Neil Banfield's boys look to step up their Reserve League title challenge. 

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