Stoke have cleaned up act: Wenger

LONDON • Arsene Wenger says Stoke finally "know how to behave" as Arsenal go in search of their first Premier League home win of the season against their old foes today.

Relations have been hostile since 2008 when the Arsenal manager claimed that Stoke, then managed by Tony Pulis, had deliberately tried to hurt his players.

That claim was followed two years later by a tackle from Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross that left Gunners midfielder Aaron Ramsey with a badly broken leg.

Wenger also once described Pulis' side, who used Rory Delap's long throws as a rudimentary attacking weapon, as a "rugby team".

But fast forward to 2015 and Stoke, now managed by Mark Hughes, are far easier on the eye.

The Potters even have five players with Champions League winners' medals - Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic, Ibrahim Afellay, Bojan Krkic and Marc Muniesa.

"They are a team with a good culture of the Premier League," Wenger said. "They know how to behave and they have experience.

"They have a lot of technical players that can give you problems."

Arsenal have also yet to register a goal in front of their own fans, having lost 0-2 to West Ham and shared a 0-0 draw with Liverpool.

Overall, they have scored just three times, with two of those own goals from the opposition.

Olivier Giroud is the top scorer with just one goal.

The French striker goes into the game having been booed by his countrymen on Monday for missing a number of chances in a 2-1 friendly win over Serbia.

Wenger made it clear that Giroud, who scored 14 Premier League goals last season, had his backing.

"There is no striker in the world who has not been questioned."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2015, with the headline 'Stoke have cleaned up act: Wenger'. Print Edition | Subscribe