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Steve Bould built his reputation with us as a steely-eyed, teak-tough defender who was determined never to give anything away for free on the pitch.

The legendary centre back, now our assistant manager, displayed that same attitude in Thursday’s press conference when he stood in for the ill Arsene Wenger.
 
Bould seemed to enjoy jousting with the media in the same way as he relished the heat of battle with opposing centre forwards. It was a fascinating head-to-head, with the Arsenal man staring down questions he felt were extraneous to football with the same glare he used to throw at strikers who started to cause trouble.
 
No, he wasn’t here to talk about the manager, the Europa League or anything else, he insisted. This was about Stoke on Sunday, and gaining three vital points – and our fourth win on the bounce – and that was that. Bould, who spent nine years at Stoke at the start of his playing days, was certainly not giving anything away for free.
 
Read on for a comprehensive pre-match briefing: we’ve got classic goals against Stoke, team news, an exclusive chat with the assistant manager, match facts, graphics and a chance to have your say.

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

Bould on dealing with physical and mental fatigue in the final stretch…
 
“I don’t think there’s any fatigue. Fatigue is when you’ve not got anything to strive for. We’ve still got an awful lot to do and I think there’s a bit of excitement actually. Training has been really lively this…



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