follow Wolves v West Bromwich with Barry Glendenning, if you prefer:If you're here early and you want to be entertained, here are a few match pointers. Or you can
• Stoke have won four of their last five home league meetings with Arsenal and also knocked them out of the FA Cup at the Britannia Stadium last season
• Arsenal have the best passing accuracy in the opposition half (79.8%) while Stoke have the worst (55.7%)
• Kenwyne Jones has had more headed shots (39) than any other player in the division
There's more where that came from, plus predicted line-ups for today's game, in our squad sheets.
Hello again. I've only got some teams for you – and Ramsey, unsurprisingly given his performance against Manchester United last week, is a starter:
Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Pennant, Whelan, Whitehead, Delap, Walters, Jones. Subs: Sorensen, Collins, Pugh, Diao, Carew, Faye, Shotton.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Gibbs, Walcott, Ramsey, Song, Wilshere, Arshavin, van Persie. Subs: Lehmann, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Squillaci, Eboue, Chamakh, Bendtner.
Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).
today's sweepstake is between five and 10 times, with 34.72% of the vote. My vote goes to between 10 and 20, incidentally.Current readers' favourite in
Still battling through five minutes of stoppage time at Molineux with Wolves 3-1 up against West Bromwich, sadly reducing the time available for Ramsey leg-cruncher mentions.
If Thomas Vermaelen makes it off the bench today, there's a chance that Arsenal might associate the Britannia Stadium with recovering from long-term injuries rather than sustaining them. And if they win, and Chelsea do likewise later on, Arsenal will be just three points off the lead. They've still haven't got a gnat in hell's chance of winning the league, of course, but it's better than being six points away.
The players are clattering down the steps and out of Stoke's pop-out tunnel, action imminent here.
Arsenal have "quite literally shot themselves in the foot" this season, expert-analyses Alan McInally.
Mention number one comes as Arsenal's team sheet is read out, and we're off and running. And a second, moments later!
1 min: Peeeeeep! Aaron Ramsey takes the game's first kick, and we're off!
1 min: Arshavin drages a shot wide of the near post from the left side of the penalty area, after good work from Wilshere down the left.
2 min: Kenwyne Jones has a shot at the other end, though he's falling over while he's doing it and it flies out for a throw-in, and not particularly near the corner flag either.
4 min: I should have also included an FA Cup final mentionometer, because that's getting some serious attention.
5 min: Jones releases Walters, who irritates Arsenal's backline for a while before crossing into Koscielny's shin from the right, the ball bobbling slowly to the keeper.
6 min: Down the other end, where Wilshere pokes the ball through to Van Persie, who has to hurry his shot and sends it over the bar from eight yards, the best chance of these opening stages.
7 min: And a third mention of last year, as Stoke's fans take the quite extraordinarily harsh decision to boo Ramsey every time he touches the ball, as if he made a meal of the challenge.
9 min: Though to be fair, they're booing pretty much every Arsenal player without great discrimination. Where is the love?
10 min: Arsenal absolutely take the mickey with a succession of near passes around the penalty area, before losing the ball as soon as they actually get into it.
12 min: Arsenal have another go at passing the ball ad nauseam around the edge of the Stoke penalty area, while the home fans shout "Boring!" very many times, until – once they're absolutely sure that the Stoke defence is as well organised as it can possibly be – they lob the ball into the box optimistically and give it away.
13 min: And at the other end a brief spell of confusion inevitably provoked by a Delap long-throw ends with Szczesny coming some way from goal to meet the ball with a weak punch and Pennant missing the goal with his attempted first-time punishment.
15 min: On-pitch flare-up! Wilshere slides in on Whitehead, catching his ankle, and within moments 15 players are on the spot and getting involved in some slightly-aggressive posturing.
17 min: "I wonder what odds you would give on Stoke 1 Arsenal 0 and Arsène Wenger shaking hands with everyone afterwards without making one complaint about a match incident," ponders Lou Roper. Think of a large number.
18 min: A decent enough opening here. While Arsenal are hogging possession, Stoke are predictably organised and their players aren't showing any great aggression (unlike their fans, who aren't exactly making themselves a wonderful advertisement for the club).
21 min: Another long spell of Arsenal possession, and this time it ends with Sagna cutting onto his left foot and shooting wide of the near post.
24 min: Robert Huth seems to be acting as a defensive ball-magnet. There's not really much point in Van Persie trying to find one of his five-foot-something team-mates with a high cross when Huth's about.
26 min: A good one-two with Walcott releases Sagna down the right, perhaps the first time that Arsenal have found a player in genuine space and able to stretch the home defence. He produces an abysmal cross straight to the nearest Stoke player.
GOAL! Stoke City 1 Arsenal 0 (Jones, 28 min) Arshavin stupidly fouls Pennant near the right corner flag – no great contact, the free kick played for and won – and the winger's cross flicks off Van Persie's eyebrows at the near post and is chested into the net from four yards by Kenwyne Jones.
30 min: "1-0 to the rugby team" cry Stoke's fans.
31 min: Walters plays the ball to Jones and gets on his bike, Jones draws the defender and then plays the ball straight into him, the defender that is, while Walters motors, lonely, into space.
33 min: Half an hour gone, and Arsenal have seen a lot of the ball between the half-way line and 25 yards or so from Stoke's goal. They've had barely a sniff beyond that, but for Van Persie's early skied effort.
38 min: Arsenal simply don't have any idea how to get past this defence. It's not that Stoke are winning on brawn alone – there's been no wrestling, no violence. They're just very organised. It means there's a slight lack of excitement at the moment. There's been one genuine chance all game, for either side, but Stoke seem the more likely side to create another.
GOAL! Stoke 2 Arsenal 0 (Pennant, 40 min)Pennant picks up the ball 45 yards from goal and on Stoke's left, drives infield and then shoots from a shade over 20 yards, the ball clipping Djourou's shinpad and beating Szczesny.
42 min: Walters outmuscles Sagna just outside Arsenal's penalty area and skips inside. From a wildly acute angle he ignores Jones, running to the near post, and Pennant, positioned at the far, and clips the ball onto the bar.
45 min: Arsenal finally find Robin Van Persie in space, clear of Stoke's back line. Sadly he found that space by standing three yards offside. This is grim stuff for the title aspirants.
45+2 min: Arshavin's corner is comfortably headed clear by some giant of a Stoke defender and the whistle goes for half-time.
Half-time: According to Phil Booth's email and extremely convincing statistical graphics, Stoke are the only side in the Premier League not to have thrown away a half-time lead this season. Just in case Arsenal needed a further lack of encouragement.
Game-changing substitution alert: Two half-time changes for Arsenal. Arshavin and Ramsey are off, Bendnter and Chamakh are on.
46 min: Peeeeeep! They're off! Again!
46 min: Aaron Ramsey "has another reason to look back on the Britannia Stadium with disappointment", what with this afternoon's underwhelming first-half performance and last year's double leg break. Mention number four.
47 min: Stoke win a corner, Huth wins the header and the ball flies over the bar. He then gets a bit of Song's elbow as both are on the ground – accidental contact, but everyone gets very excited for a while.
48 min: Huth has now gone down clutching his knee and looking very mildly concerned.
50 min: Stoke aren't really up for risk-taking a week before the biggest match in their entire history, so Huth's going to come off. Faye will replace him.
52 min: Bendtner lashes a 20-yard shot narrowly wide of the right-hand post. "Would feel sorry for Huth there, but it's Huth," says Ulto Ryan. "Living and dying be the sword. Anyway he damaged Song's lovely new jersey." Oooh, and there's Chamakh having a shot, from just outside the penalty area and quite a tasty central position, but it's skewed well wide. Still no shots on target from the visitors.
54 min: I thought that Ramsey's replacement might bring an end to mentions of last year's incident, but with Ryan Shawcross still very much on the pitch I couldn't have been more wrong. We've just notched up mention number five.
56 min: Song totally fluffs an opportunity to play in Van Persie, and then Sagna collapses and rolls around a bit after some possible contact with Wilson's outstretched arm. Nobody's very impressed, least of all the referee (or his assistant, who was two yards away from the incident).
58 min: "If it's true that things in football even out, then this spring's litany of Arsenal horror, culminating in a stuffing by leg breaking drones orchestrated by reject Jermaine flipping Pennant, must surely be followed by an unbeaten, undrawn season in 2011-12 in which the title winning goal is scored at Old Trafford (own goal deflected off SAF's stopwatch) and John Terry is revealed by Osama's hard drives as an al Qaeda operative," predicts Allan Castle. Conversely, if it's true that this is happening to Arsenal because they're not that great and their manager refuses to do anything about their failings, then more of exactly the same is going to happen next season.
60 min: Off-topic tip: Chelsea have left Torres on the bench for today's crunch encounter at Old Trafford.
61 min: And the first booking of the game goes, inevitably, to an Arsenal player. Bendtner trips Pennant, who makes the most of it. Definite foul, mind, and probably a fair booking.
63 min: The day is just getting more and more dismal for Arsenal. Highlights of the last couple of minutes include Robin Van Persie treading on the ball while totally unhassled and falling over, Gibbs passing the ball so far from Bendtner that it rolls out of play, Walcott randomly kicking the ball into touch for no good reason and Song hitting a hopeful upfield punt into the keeper's gloves.
69 mins: Violence! Prompted by Wilshere's bad challenge on Pennant. Lots of shoving. A great deal of anger.
70 min: The referee's consulting with his assistants, as the referee reaches into his pocket.
71 min: And it's a yellow for Wilshere. And another for Pennant, presumably for his rather over-the-top reaction to the initial challenge.
72 min: Danny Pugh is coming on for the recently-carded Pennant.
73 min: Great save! Bendnter cuts onto his right foot, and just as he seems set to shoot his passes to Van Persie, six yards out. The keeper, though, is out quickly and gets in the way of the shot.
74 min: From a second successive corner Djourou's probably-on-target header clips a defender and goes wide.
76 min: Wilshere, after that challenge on Pennant, is now getting the loudest boos. Then Whelan is played in towards the right side of Arsenal's penalty area, and his shot towards the near post is pushed wide.
77 min: And from the corner Shawcross swats Szczesny aside and heads the ball goalwards. It's cleared off the line, and anyway the referee doesn't like the whole swatting-goalkeeper thing and gives a free-kick.
78 min: Arsenal have had a decent couple of minutes, and Van Persie celebrates by hitting a first-time shot about three light-years over the bar. Huth medical update: he's going to have a scan tomorrow, but Stoke's medical team are optimistic. And Rosicky replaces Song, which means Vermaelen's comeback will have to wait another week.
GOAL! Stoke 2 Arsenal 1 (Van Persie, 81 min) Van Persie turns and finds space just outside the penalty area, and this time his shot is very much on target. As on target as it could possibly be. Indeed, it is straight down the middle of the target. But it's hit low and hard, and zips under the keeper.
GOAL! Stoke 3 Arsenal 1 (Walters, 82 min) Wilkinson's 20-yard shot is way off target, but Djourou's clearance is rushed, left-footed and totally useless and rolls to Walters, 15 yards from goal, who slams the ball gleefully past Szczesny to restore the home side's two-goal advantage.
84 min: That's eight consecutive away games in which Robin Van Persie has scored, extending his Premier League record. And Salif Diao comes on for Kenwyne Jones.
86 min: When Stoke fans sing Swing Low Sweet Chariot, is that another rugby team reference?
87 min: Arsenal will get a kicking for today's performance, and it has been deeply lacking in very many ways, and Stoke will get criticised for the whole boo-Aaron-Ramsey thing, but their actual team have been superb.
90 min: Theo Walcott, possibly the least effective of Arsenal's extremely ineffective players, boots a cross straight into touch.
90+1 min: There'll be four minutes of stoppage time here.
90+3 min: Bendtner works himself an opportunity (by shoving his marker away and then handling the ball). He shoots wide, but the whistle's gone anyway.
90+4 min: Peeeeeeeeep! It's all over, and Stoke have won! Last year they broke Arsenal's legs, this year they broke their spirit.
Final thoughts: And that, then, is that. A dismal lack of dynamism from Arsenal, who rarely discomforted or disrupted the Stoke defence. Another tour de force from Stoke, strong and organised at the back and impressive in attack, where Jones and Walters were a right hassle at all times and Pennant was bright on the wing. Into the hall of shame go Arshavin, Chamakh and Walcott, who were all terrible. It's hard to begrudge a team that contains the far-from-coveted likes of Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson and still outplays one of the country's more acclaimed teams. Anyway, enough! It's time for Manchester United v Chelsea, which you can follow here.
Oh, and there were precisely five mentions of last year's leg-breaking shenanigans. Who'd have thought it? Er, 31.45% of you, it seems.