Stoke City v Arsenal: Wenger eyes elusive win at Stoke

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Arsene Wenger has urged Arsenal to show the progress they have made when they start "a very important period" with a trip to Stoke City.

The London club secured their third consecutive victory in all competitions with a 1-0 Premier League triumph over Southampton on Wednesday.

Alexis Sanchez struck after 89 minutes with his 14th goal of the season to consign Ronald Koeman's side to defeat at the Emirates Stadium.

That victory moved Arsenal back up to sixth in the table and was their third success in the space of a week, lifting the gloom after a run of three matches without a win.

Arsenal now turn their attention to trying to secure a first win at the Britannia Stadium since February 2010, having gone four games without victory there since a 3-1 success that was marred by Aaron Ramsey's horrific leg break.

Wenger is grateful his side can head into the clash with Mark Hughes' side knowing they have already qualified for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League with a trip to Galatasaray to come next Tuesday.

But the trip to Staffordshire marks the beginning of a two-week spell in which Arsenal face four games.

"It is a very important period but one thing is for sure - we are not under huge pressure for game number six in the Champions League," the Frenchman told Arsenal's official website.

"The week we had behind us and the week we have now, to go to Galatasaray for a decisive game would be very difficult.

"At least we are not under massive pressure there so let's focus on our next game at Stoke. It is a difficult place for us to go but let’s show there that we have improved and we can deal with it."

As well Sanchez being in fine form ahead of the game against Stoke, Wenger will also be buoyed by the fact that his side have not conceded a goal in their last three games.

Stoke, by contrast, have suffered three defeats in a row - but Hughes holds no fears about facing an in-form Arsenal side. 

He said: "Historically you struggle at certain grounds or against certain opponents - every team does. Over the years we've made it difficult for Arsenal to play their game. 

"We're a different team now but we can still compete. After going up against Liverpool and Manchester United we certainly won't fear Arsenal. 

"We'll need to be very good and we know it's difficult but we'll make it difficult for Arsenal and they'll understand that."

Hughes will leave it late before deciding whether Jonathan Walters, who scored the only goal of the game in the corresponding fixture last season, and Robert Huth play any part.

Walters missed the 2-1 defeat at Manchester United on Tuesday with a knee problem, while Huth has been ruled out since October due to a calf injury.

Stephen Ireland (illness) also faces a battle to be fit, while Glenn Whelan (calf) could miss out again.

It remains to be seen if forward Theo Walcott (groin) and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (hip) are available to return to the Arsenal squad.