Stoke boss Mark Hughes insists the Emirates holds “no fear” for his side, despite the Potters’ dire record from recent trips to Arsenal.
The Gunners have won each of their past 13 home encounters with the Potters, a sequence that dates back to 1981, and will hope they can this weekend accrue their first Premier League success at their north London abode this season.
However, Hughes’ men have had Arsenal’s number on their own patch, losing just once to Arsene Wenger’s side in the Premier League era at the Britannia Stadium, and they will also take heart from away victories other teams have had in the top flight already.
Crystal Palace claimed three points at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, while West Ham have defeated Arsenal and Liverpool on the road, and Hughes believes the competitive nature of the division means clubs are no longer daunted by the prospect of visiting the bigger teams.
“There’s a strength in the Premier League that gives confidence to everybody,” he said.
“Maybe in the past teams would fear going to the Emirates or Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge. I know when I was a Man United player a lot of teams would turn up and you knew almost immediately they didn’t believe they could win games there. I don’t think that’s the case any more.
“Most teams go with the intention of asking questions of the top teams and seeing how far it takes you. We’re very much in that group of teams that feel we can go anywhere and give good accounts of ourselves.
“Sometimes we’ll be able to do it, other times the opposition will be good on the day. (But) our attitude to go to the top clubs is probably more confident than it has been in the past.”
That has been bred by a series of impressive scalps Hughes has added to his Potters resume.
He delivered long-awaited victories over Chelsea and Manchester United in his first season at the helm and Stoke claimed an away success at Manchester City last August before annihilating Liverpool 6-1 to close out the campaign.
With the likes of former Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri and ex-Barcelona forward Bojan Krkic now in tow too, Hughes is confident they are well placed to end their Emirates hoodoo.
“We feel we’re better equipped with certain types of players that can maybe ask more questions of them,” he added.
“Certainly on their own patch they’ve had an indifferent start, maybe it’s a good time to play them.
“The key is you’ve got to give yourself a chance to win the game. When you go to the Emirates, they invariably start quickly, the demand’s on them to take onus of the game and you’ve got to be ready for that and make sure you don’t concede early.
“If you stay in the game, at some point, they will give you chances because they do play quite open.”