Monday 11 December 2017

Pennant can silence the Gunners

Ken Gaunt

Jermaine Pennant faces his former club Arsenal this afternoon at the top of his game, according to Stoke assistant manager Dave Kemp.

Pennant has travelled a long road since 1999 when he joined the Gunners as a prodigious talent but the winger now seems content at the Britannia Stadium. The 28-year-old has played a big part in Stoke's success after sealing a permanent deal from Real Zaragoza in January following a loan spell.

"Jermaine has been very impressive since he came here," says Kemp. "He is playing the best football of his career and is a big part of what we do.

"He is a quality player. He produces crosses for us, he makes goals, he keeps the ball and scores goals as well. Not only that, his work-rate has been tremendous."

Pennant helped Stoke reach the FA Cup final for the first time -- they meet Manchester City on Saturday -- with a dazzling display in the 5-0 rout of Bolton.

The team have kicked on from that remarkable performance and are unbeaten in three league matches going into the clash with Arsenal. Kemp wants more of the same and insists the players won't be distracted by thoughts of Wembley.

"That semi-final win gave not just the club a boost but the city as well. Everyone around Stoke has a spring in their step. The team has really picked up the baton and we don't want to let that standard drop.

"It is a big game against and one we want to win, so we won't look past it. We have three games left and will try to get the maximum as we want a top-10 finish."

On-loan striker John Carew is aiming for another run-out after stepping off the bench in the draw against Blackpool following a back problem. And according to Kemp he would love to put one over Arsenal again after his exploits in the Champions League.

Carew, on a short-term deal from Aston Villa, scored the all-important goal for Valencia at the Mestalla against the Gunners en-route to the 2000/'01 final. Then in the 2002/'03 season he found the net twice as the Spanish club beat Wenger's side 2-1 at home to reach the quarter-finals.

"John is fit but has not been able to get 90 minutes under his belt. Whenever he has played for us he has done very well. He has a decent scoring record against a lot of people and I am sure he will be dying to get out there, given the opportunity."

Stoke City v Arsenal,

Sky Sports 1, 2.05

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