Daily Archives: February 11, 2012
The Stadium of Light hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Gunners as Arsene Wenger’s men have managed just three wins in their last nine encounters. Last season Darren Bent’s late effort was enough to make both side share the spoils in a game that was marred by Tomas Rosicky’s penalty that was launched into orbit.
Steve Bruce did well to earn Sunderland their highest ever league finish in the last campaign but he lost the plot this year and was rightly sacked in the chairman’s bid to save the club from relegation. The Sunderland hierarchy looked no further than the master motivator Martin O’ Neill. Under his reins, the Black Cats have been in a rich vein of form that has seen them beat the table toppers Manchester City.
Arsenal will be bolstered by the fact that Kieran Gibbs is available for selection while players like Bacary Sagna and Mikel Arteta are fully fit. Today’s fixtures will involve many crunch matches that will further shape the destiny of the Premier League so victory will be paramount for Arsene Wenger and his men.
I expect Wojciech Szczesny to continue between the sticks while this game might be too soon for Gibbs so the regular back line of Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna will lead the defense line.
Francis Coquelin has been very impressive for the Gunners this season but he’ll have to settle for a place on the bench. It’s also heart warming to know that the Coq has agreed to be Arsenal’s version of John O’ Shea by saying that he’ll play anywhere as long as he’s selected.
I expect Aaron Ramsey, Alex Song and Mikel Arteta to man the midfield while the impressive trinity of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and van Persie will lead the forward line.
With my brief match preview over, it’s time to give five reasons to look forward to today’s clash:
Arsenal is high on Confidence
Arsenal’s resounding win over Blackburn has certainly lifted the spirits at the Emirates and this kind of confidence will be important to take on Martin O’ Neill’s high-flying Sunderland. Arsenal’s confidence levels where shattered to bits following the disappointing run of three losses in a row but that 7-1 scoreline has given them the much needed edge to believe in themselves again.
A True Test of Arsenal’s Character
Down the years, Arsenal has produced unforgettable performances despite having turmoil on several fronts so I expect the Gunners to bring out a performance from the top drawer today. Sunderland may not be ranked with the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and the bullies from Manchester but the Stadium of Light has been become a fortress in the making since the arrival of Martin O’ Neill.
Arsenal has to show a true test of character today.
A Consistent Run Begins Now
With 14 games left in this Premier League, Arsenal knows that a consistent run of league wins will be good enough to usurp the West London rivals Chelsea for the final Champions League berth. Chelsea hasn’t really fired on all cylinders this term so I hope that the Gunners capitalize on their shortcomings.
Besides, both teams are running out of games.
The Prospect of Watching Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain play again
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s introduction in the second half of the season has been a breath of fresh air and his performances have been nothing short of the word sensational. The Ox, as he’s passionately called will get another chance to strut his stuff and rain terror on Sunderland’s defense with his intelligent and mazy runs.
With the likes of Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie wreaking havoc alongside the Ox, the prospect is surely mouth-watering.
A Premier League Farewell to Thierry Henry
We’ve all heard the news that Thierry Henry is not going to extend his stay at the club so he’ll get one final chance to bow out of the Premier League in grand style. Before leaving Arsenal in 2008, he had smashed in 174 league goals and he added to that tally with his late effort against Blackburn last week.
With probably half an hour left in today’s tie, Thierry Henry will be given a chance to play in the Premier League for the last time in his glittering career.
What I’ll give to see a Henry goal today?
Enjoy the match wherever you are.
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