Sunderland Preview: Time to Pick Up Some Form
In all honesty, it hasn’t been a good start to the 2014/15 season. The Gunners are walloping in mid-table in the Premier League, already out of the Capital One Cup, the ever-increasing injury list continues to pile up and the performances on the pitch have been downright disappointing. However, the Gunners come into this game on the end of what proved to be a priceless victory following the dismal performances from the lads on the night. Sunderland on the other hand, will have to do better following the 8-0 bashing they received from an in-form Southampton side. Both teams have become draw specialists early in the season and I’d be hoping for more than just one point this afternoon.
History favors the Gunners in this fixture as Arsenal has won their last three encounters against the Black Cats, which includes a home and away double last season. Aaron Ramsey stole the show when both sides clashed in September 2013 and the home game will be fondly remembered by the awesome team goal that was finished off by Tomas Rosicky. Olivier Giroud, you flickin’ devil, you! Arsenal are on a nine-match unbeaten run against Sunderland in the Premier League and are vying to win at the Stadium of Light for the fourth season in a row.
Gus Poyet has signed veteran French fullback, Anthony Reveillere on a free contract in his bid to improve a back line that was in shambles last week. With Vergini scoring such an embarrassing own goal last week, he might have to do with some time in the dugout for a more experienced lad like Reveillere. Ex-Gunner, Vito Mannone, could be another goalie that could get the axe, following such a shambolic performance at St. Mary’s Stadium. He epitomized a torrid display with a rash pass that was curled home by Dusan Tadic and I see Costel Pantillimon getting his Premier League debut for Sunderland today. The Gunners still have to be weary of the threat Steven Fletcher would pose and they would ignore him on their own peril.
With the shocking defensive display against Anderlecht on Wednesday night, I would be surprised if I see Nacho Monreal and Per Mertesacker play together in the heart of the defense. The Spaniard has proved that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and the sooner Calum Chambers get deployed alongside the BFG, the better for everyone. This would mean that Hector Bellerin would get a run out on the right. With Wenger confirming that he cannot give a date for Koscielny’s return, that would be a real cause for concern. I also see Mikel Arteta returning to the midfield to displace Mathieu Flamini because it’s saddening to know that the Frenchman hasn’t been in good form at all. He couldn’t even dominate a midfield of unknown players in midweek, let alone, some recognizable ones here in the Premier League.
With Wilshere suspended (thank Heavens), Tomas Rosicky or probably, Lukas Podolski would be in line to make an appearance to allow Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey strut their stuff in the middle but with the unhappy German scoring the goal that gave Arsenal all three points in midweek, I’d expect Arsene Wenger to hand him a chance to build on that cameo performance. In attack, the usual suspects, Danny Welbeck and Alexis “Work Rate” Sanchez would be odds on to add to their goals tally and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to achieve a milestone as he makes his 100th appearance for the club if he starts.
Sunderland: Álvarez (knee), Coates (thigh), Giaccherini (ankle), Jones (hamstring).
Arsenal: Matt Debuchy (ankle), Olivier Giroud (foot), , Yaya Sanogo (hamstring), Mikel Arteta (calf), Mesut Ozil (knee), David Ospina (thigh), Laurent Koscielny (Achilles tendon), Abou Diaby, Serge Gnabry, Theo Walcott (lacking match fitness), Wilshere (suspended)
- Last Five Games: D L D W L
- Last Result: Southampton 8 Sunderland 0
- Last Five Games: D W L D W
- Last Result: Anderlecht 1 Arsenal 2
Wenger has stated that his team can find that extra degree in their game to pick up some form, Sunderland offers a perfect platform to do that. Let’s hope we wont be disappointed yet again.
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