Arsenal will be hoping to get back to winning ways against bottom-placed Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in the first Premier League game of the weekend.
After being held to a draw by Middlesbrough at the Emirates last weekend in a result that few expected, the Gunners will hope to come away with all three points from the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger’s men should be more than confident of a victory, as Sunderland have been atrocious this season and have yet to win a single game. Arsenal are currently on a 14-match unbeaten run and have been playing some of the best football in the league this season.
Sir Alex Ferguson spoke of them as genuine title contenders earlier in the week, and if their form is anything to go by, it is hard to disagree with him. Arsenal will still hope for an easy game without any injuries, as the past two weeks have seen them lose both Santi Cazorla and Lucas Perez to injury.
Sunderland have been dismal this season, with new manager David Moyes struggling to get the side functioning as a unit. They have already been installed as relegation favourites nine games into the season, and the pressure is beginning to pile on the Scotsman.
Team News and Tactics
Defender Jason Denayer and attacking midfielder Adnan Januzaj are both major doubts for the game and are very unlikely to feature. David Moyes is expected to field an unchanged side, as he is still looking to get some sort of consistency from his players.
Sunderland have conceded 16 goals already this season, and are yet to pick up a victory. While Moyes would no doubt be ecstatic with a victory over Arsenal, there is no doubt that his priority will be to avoid defeat. The Black Cats are expected to sit deep, pack the midfield and try to exploit Arsenal on the counter-attack.
Probable lineup (4-3-3): Pickford; Manquillo, Kone, O’Shea, Van Aanholt; N’dong, Rodwell, Pienaar; Watmore, Defoe, Khazri
The Gunners were dealt a blow in midweek when it was reported that Lucas Perez would face 6-8 weeks out after a rash challenge from Reading defender Danzell Gravenberch. Wenger confirmed the news at his pre-match press conference.
Meanwhile, Santi Cazorla is still a doubt after picking up an achilles injury against Ludogorets. Theo Walcott will face a late fitness test after coming down with an illness in midweek. Left-back Nacho Monreal is also a doubt and will face a late fitness test.
Walcott’s illness could mean that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain — coming off scoring a brace against Reading in Arsenal’s midweek EFL Cup tie — could slot into the side on the right wing. It is unlikely that Wenger will risk Cazorla, and with Granit Xhaka still serving his three-match ban, the midfield pairing is likely to be the one that started against Middlesbrough — Francis Coquein and Mohamed Elneny.
Arsene Wenger rarely changes his tactics for a match and we can expect to see Arsenal putting Sunderland under immense pressure from kick-off.
Probable lineup (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Elneny; Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi; Sanchez
- Sunderland have won just one of their last 25 Premier League matches against Arsenal — a 1-0 win for Steve Bruce’s side in November 2009 (D9 L15)
- David Moyes has lost 14 Premier League games against Arsene Wenger — the only manager he’s lost to as often is Sir Alex Ferguson.
- Olivier Giroud has scored five times and assisted two goals in his last six Premier League games against Sunderland in all competitions.
- Jermain Defoe has faced Arsenal 21 times in the Premier League but has only scored twice — once at Highbury for West Ham in January 2003 and again for Spurs in their 5-4 loss to the Gunners in November 2004.
- Arsenal are one of the two unbeaten Premier League sides away from home this season along with Tottenham Hotspur.
Player to watch
Sanchez has been in brilliant form this season and will thrive against a defence that is as vulnerable as Sunderland’s. Kone and O’Shea aren’t the most sprightly defenders, and Sanchez’s quick touches and aggression should see him get lots of joy playing against the two of them.
Sunderland’s chaotic defence also means that Sanchez can look to play in others — an attribute of his that is highly underrated — and create holes in their defence for his fellow midfielders to attack.
Betting Tips (bet365)
Two teams at opposite ends of the league table and form table — the fixture looks done and dusted. In fact, this could turn into a bit of an embarrassment for Moyes’ side and a disastrous result here could mount further pressure on the former Manchester United manager.
Arsenal will not be in the mood for any more favours after the Middlesbrough draw and look set to pile on the misery for the Black Cats.
1. Arsenal Asian Handicap -1.0,1.5 @1.925
2. Sunderland Cards Asian Handicap -0.5 @2
3. Arsenal Clean Sheet – YES @2.10
1. Walcott to score 2 or more @7.00
2. Alexis Sanchez to score 2 or more @5.50
Sunderland 1 – 3 Arsenal
This shouldn’t be a game that challenges Wenger’s men too much, but they do have to be careful of Defoe, who is still a threat at his age. They also have to make sure that they are not complacent. Everyone expected a victory against Middlesbrough as well, but Wenger’s men could not deliver. It is unlikely that Sunderland will have any real say in the game and Arsenal are fully expected to come away with three points.
Leave a Reply