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Arsenal Vs Sunderland Preview

Kickoff – 1945GMT

Despite our impressive recent run in the League, the illustrious top4 spot is out of our hands after Liverpool crushed West Ham 4-0 on Sunday.

It means that even if we win our last two games, if Klopp’s team beat Middlesbrough in their last game in the weekend, then we will miss out on the Champions League next season. 

It doesn’t look rosy for our prospects, and our returning form has come a little too late to rescue our bid for European Cup qualification. While there is a chance though, the games we have must be won, so next up is already relegated Sunderland.

The temptation to take the foot off the gas when facing a team already consigned to relegation is large, but the Black Cats showed when they faced Hull that now the pressure is off, they are more than capable of producing something.  

This is also the fifth game in just 17 days, so rotation may well come into play. Will the players give everything to the cause in a bid to earn a starting spot for the FA Cup Final? Or will they seek to preserve themselves and avoid any injury before such a big game? 

One worry is Alexis Sanchez. In imperious form against Stoke, the Chilean faces a fitness test before the game tonight, but Laurent Koscielny returned to the team against Stoke, whether he will be risked again is another thing. Wenger stated that Koscielny has a little reoccurrence of the calf injury which kept him out of the Southampton game – I would hazard a guess that Gabriel may slot in to keep Koscielny wrapped in cotton wool before Everton and Chelsea.

Rob Holding performed exceptionally well against the Potters, and we fans have a new song for the impressive youngster. The second season syndrome may kick in for Holding, but his composure and talent is shining right now, and he has fully earned his spot in the team. Kieran Gibbs is back in contention but The Ox is still out with his hamstring. 

This game gives a few the chance to get back into favour, and Danny Welbeck, Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin could all start the game. The health of our squad is strong, but they should know they have underperformed this campaign. 

Sunderland boss David Moyes will be looking for his charges to prove to him they are worth keeping, and the ones looking to escape will be looking to put themselves in the shop window. The Black Cats will be up for the game and it is not a foregone conclusion, even if us Gooners will be fully expecting maximum points.

We need the win if we are to take the top4 fight into the final game. Sunderland have won just one game in their last six, and scored four goals in the process. David Moyes is facing the heat from Mackem fans, but the continuity in place if he stays will stand them in good stead in the choppy waters of the Championship. He also will be keen to keep hold of some of the players who have not let him down, such as Khazri, Watmore and Cattermole. It is a foregone conclusion that his starman, Jermain Defoe, will be on the move in the summer though. The 34 year old striker has proved that even in a struggling team he can find the net with regularity, and teams in the PL know that finding a striker who can give them regular goals is a hard task indeed. A bidding war in the summer?

So, Arsene Wenger needs another win to keep up the chase on Liverpool. Our form and Sunderland’s spell out only one possible result, but we all know the Premier League doesn’t work out like that!

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Holding, Gabriel, Coquelin, Ramsey, Bellerin, Iwobi, Ozil, Welbeck, Giroud. 

Predicted Scoreline – 3-1 Arsenal

Sunderland 1-4 Arsenal – 5 Key Points – Match Review

Leaving the Stadium of Light with all three points, and with important players returning to fitness, Arsene Wenger can consider this match day to be a job well done.

The Black Cats put in a performance that was vastly improved from the majority of their efforts this season, but their spirit was broken by a simple change of approach, and the Gunners finding a higher gear.

Arsenal had Santi Cazorla, Nacho Monreal and Theo Walcott as fitness doubts before kickoff, and all three were duly rested, with a view to hopefully being able to call upon them in midweek and sooner, rather tha later. This meant that Mohamed Elneny, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain kept their places in the team. 

Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey had proved their readiness to Wenger, and they both were granted a place on the bench, alongside Ainslie Maitland-Niles who had impressed in the EFL Cup win over Reading. The Frenchman in particular was to prove quite the boost in the game….

Arsenal started well, and it took approximately 19 minutes for their dominance to become tangible in the form of a goal. 

The Ox, who needed to show he can add consistency to his quiver of arrows, flung in a great cross from the right hand side which Lamina Kone looked to have under control. Little did he know that he had the human salmon that is Alexis Sanchez lurking behind him. The Chilean leaped higher and slightly ahead of Kone, which enabled him to flick his forehead onto the ball. The ball fizzed into the far corner, and thanks to the athleticism and instinct of Sanchez, Arsenal were a goal up.

There were more chances in the first half, but Pickford and profligate finishing put paid to the Gunners aims of extending their lead.

They would pay for such waste, and the game could gone the way of many Arsenal scripts – which would be dominance, but dropped points.

The second half started much like the first, with Arsenal possession, but it would be the home side who would hit the back of the net next.

Duncan Watmore ousted a flummoxed Mustafi from the ball, and bore down on goal unopposed. His touch knocked the ball wide, but past Petr Cech. Cech then pulled his hands away, but his forward momentum meant that his shoulder sent Watmore spinning.

The ref pointed to the spot, and Defoe emphatically put the spot kick away.

Game on, although if you looked at the stats, logic would defy you to make sense of the scoreline.

Frustration began to creep in, but a substitution would change the game completely. 

The reintroduction of Giroud. 

His first touch earned Arsenal a deserved lead, and it was a first time volley from another Oxlade-Chamberlain cross. 

Five minutes later, an Ozil corner was met at the front post by a leaping Giroud, who flicked it over Pickford to sew up the points.

The icing on the cake was applied by Sanchez, who showed great adaptation and technique to score the fourth from close range only two minutes after the third was scored. 

There was far more to highlight that occurred during the game, but here are 5 salient points that arose from the ninety minutes:

Giroud has a vital place this season

Olivier may have slipped behind the firing Sanchez in the battle to be Arsenal’s Numero Uno striker whilst he recovered from injury, but his two goals served as a perfect reminder to fans and his manager that he will have an important role this season. Alexis deservedly holds down the spot previously filled by Giroud, but his introduction made the difference in this game. We may have still won if he were not to have come on the pitch, but his aerial ability and link-up play is nigh on unrivalled, and his runs to the front post are usually met with a great finish. This is his first game back, just imagine when he is in the swing of things.

The Ox is taking his chance

We are all aware of the boy’s talents, but Oxlade-Chamberlain has continually failed to ally consistency with his skills. Productivity on a frequency far higher than he was previously giving was the bar which he had to meet in order to really fulfill his promise. His last two games, played within three days, has seen an Ox which appears more than determined to do just that. His crosses were perfect for Alexis and Giroud, and he was effective with the ball. A player who intends to make things happen like Alex does will always lose possession, but it happened on fewer occasions and he was a constant outlet. Great to see.

Elneny rising to the occasion

His midfield partner – Coquelin – really does always give his all and you know what he is going to give you nearly every game. Elneny though, through a lack of action, had shown a few signs of ring rust in his first few games. This game though, showed the Egyptian is nearing his imposing best. At both ends of the pitch, he made his presence felt. Will he be replaced even though he is showing form though? Xhaka’s suspension has ended after this game, and Santi is back in the squad. Despite playing his part in keeping Arsenal’s winning run on track, Elneny may just be back on the bench very soon.

The bottom side are capable of beating anyone

Sunderland may have shipped four, but for 70 minutes, with a smidge of luck, they could have gotten something. This wasn’t a besmirching of our display, which was nearly complete, but a testament to the strength of the Premier League. The Black Cats will earn their first win soon, and it could come against anyone. They had fight, and they were defensively sound at times, but confidence is the blood which all teams need. 

November cometh

This win was perhaps more vital than we realise, seeing as November is upon us. In his twenty years at Arsenal, Wenger’s points per game in this blasted month is lower than any other, and considerably so. Just over 1.5 points per game, which is quite awful. We sit pretty near the top of the league, but any slip up will be capitalised on, especially if there are repeated mistakes like we normally make. Next up? Oh, it is only the North London Derby…….

Sunderland Vs Arsenal – PL Match Preview

The regular slew of fixctures shows no sign of abating – well, at least until the next infernal international break – but Arsenal have managed to continue their winning run despite the demands placed upon them.

Midweek saw a much changed side from the norm, but the victory was still earned, thanks in no small part to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. His brace allowed EFL Cup progression over Reading, and The Ox may just have secured another start with his mature performance.

Next up is a trip to the Stadium of Light to face bottom of the table Sunderland, but the Black Cats will be no pushovers. Bookies, industry experts and pretty much anyone you are willing to listen to will make the Gunners overwhelming favourites – and rightly so. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the three points are already packed and winging their way back to London Colney however.

Sunderland boss David Moyes will be desperate to achieve his sides first win this season, and despite losing yet again in midweek in the EFL Cup at the hands of Arsenal’s next opponents in the competition – Southampton – they certainly put up far more fight than in previous attempts this season.

The old adage regarding no games being a gimme in this League is unerringly accurate, and the last couple of occasions Arsene Wenger and his men played a team they were heavily backed to destroy – Burnley and Middlesbrough – they got very lucky against one and drew a blank against the other.

So, this game is just another obstacle our team must overcome on the path to potential glory. It isn’t bigger or smaller, just something like all the games that they have to hurdle. 

In terms of team selection, Wenger will look to revert to the team which was frustrated against Boro last weekend, but there may just be a couple of significant changes.

Nacho Monreal, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott all face late fitness tests. With Keiran Gibbs and Mohamed Elneny both playing the last two games within four days, a third in seven may be too much. If Monreal and Santi both pass, they may just go straight into the side. Arsene Wenger intimated that Theo may just return next week against Ludogorets, so The Ox may yet get another chance to shine in Theo’s stead.

There is more good news on the injury front to go with the potential return of Cazorla and Nacho, with the news that Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey have returned to the reckoning. The French striker made a cameo in the EFL Cup win over Reading, and both players will be looking to acquire some valuable minutes. 

Lucas Perez will definitely be sidelined though. Wenger confirmed in his press conference for this game that the Spaniard will be out for a minimum of eight weeks with ankle ligament damage. A huge shame for the striker, who had impressed in his few showings so far. 

David Moyes will be missing Jan Kirchhoff in the centre of midfield, and he will be a big loss. Lee Cattermole faces a fitness test, but Jermain Defoe and Wahbi Kazri are both fit, and they will carry the main threat to Arsenal’s backline.

Both managers and teams are under pressure, albeit for contrasting reasons, so the game may revert to blood and thunder challenges, with the game being fought in the centre of the park. With the return of Giroud, we have a plan B that may allow us to possess a threat which can pierce a clogged Sunderland area. 

Our record is good against the Black Cats – only one loss in the last 25, and four of our last five trips to the Stadium of Light – but complacency has ever been the perennial spanner to title hopes. 

We have been lightly singed against Boro and Burnley. Let us hope that we are not foolish enough to burn ourselves properly with the same flame.
We climb to the top of the Premiership with a win. Our stay may be brief, but it will send a loud message. Let’s get it done. 
Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Elneny, Iwobi, Ozil, Ox, Sanchez.

Predicted Score – 1-0 Arsenal. 

Sunderland Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

A welcome win just three days ago saw Arsenal return to third place –  overtake Manchester City –  and retain the slim hope they might just catch rival tottenham.

Manchester City however, had other ideas. They were the second team to knock four past Stoke in a week, after spurs did the same thing to them on Monday, to reclaim what may be a valuable third spot.


Continue reading Sunderland Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland – The Defence of The F.A Cup Has Started.

Arsenal, winners of the F.A Cup in the last two years, began the defence of their silverware and also an attempt to be the first team to win this historic competition three times in a row, with a well fought victory over Sunderland.

The 3-1 scoreline matched the outcome when these two sides met last month, and to add an even eerier note, the same three goalscorers featured in both games. Joel Campbell, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud were the men in question and their exploits mean that once again, Arsenal are in the bag for the Fourth Round Draw.


Continue reading Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland – The Defence of The F.A Cup Has Started.

F.A Cup Preview – Arsenal Vs Sunderland

After Arsenal’s recent successful exploits in obtaining top spot in the Premier League, focus now shifts on a competition in which the Gunners have enjoyed in recent years – the F.A Cup.

Today’s Third Round opponents are Sunderland, and Big Sam Allardyce surely will have his mind set on Premiership survival rather than a cup run – will his team selection mirror his thinking?


Continue reading F.A Cup Preview – Arsenal Vs Sunderland

Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland – Match Review

After November’s winless run, three points was vital in keeping within touching distance of the top of the league.

This 3-1 win was much like the last two games against West Brom & Norwich – an opponent adjudged to struggle before kick-off, but giving as good as they got during the ninety minutes.

The main difference this time was that we resisted the lure to self-implode and see out the victory.

No Sanchez or Santi Cazorla after last weekend’s draw at Norwich meant that recently fit Aaron Ramsey got his chance to stake a claim in his favoured position of central midfield, and Joel Campbell and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were on the flanks.

It was Sunderland who started the better though – two clear chances that Borini really should have buried, thankfully Petr Cech was at his best to deny the Italian.


These acted as warning shots across Arsenal’s bow and on thirty three minutes, Joel Campbell broke the deadlock.

Mesut Özil had been one of the few Gunners to have turned up in the opening half an hour and it was his inch-perfect slide rule pass that Campbell latched onto after eluding his marker. The Costa Rican dispatched it through Costel Pantilimon’s legs and then raced away to celebrate with a child’s dummy! 



It seemed as if Arsenal would then keep possession and see out the half, but the Black Cats electric start was a herald of what was to come in the last minute of the first half.

The lively Duncan Watmore earned a free kick out wide and it was London Colney fitness room botherer himself, Yann M’Vila, who whizzed it into the box. Olivier Giroud – who had an anonymous first half thanks to the close attention of Sunderland’s three centre-backs – looked to clear with an unfamiliar left boot but instead shinned it past a stricken Cech.

Arsenal ruining things for themselves with no help necessary.

The atmosphere was muted, but that was probably down to a sense of deja vu. The last month was on an eerie parallel with the events of this game and Gooners could have been forgiven for fearing the worst.

Arsene sent out his troops with a more pressing urgency it seemed, but Sunderland soon got back into the stride which had caused the Arsenal back line so much trouble. In particular, Hector Bellerin was having a torrid time and it was his failure to track the run of Stephen Fletcher which gave the Scot a gilt-edged opportunity to give the Mackems the lead. Again it was Cech who kept Arsenal on an even keel. 

Sunderland would pay dearly for their profligacy……

Nacho Monreal, so often an effective outlet, took up the slack on the left and burst past his marker with a cutting run inside. He found Ramsey on the corner of the box and his driven cross was fantastically converted by a stooping Olivier Giroud, who had gained a yard on Younes Kaboul.

Redemption for the Frenchman.

giroud celebrates gaining redemption.

This took the wind out of Sunderland’s sails somewhat. The string of chances they had created wasn’t as prevalent as before, although they always looked like they could grab a goal. Was this down to an off-day at the back for the Gunners or the attacking vibrancy of the Black Cats? A bit of both.
Arsenal introduced a welcome figure in the shape of Theo Walcott and his presence will be required for a hectic month, so to see him gain some vital minutes was a heartening sight.

The feel-good factor spread even further when Arsenal caused panic in the box and the ball fell to a lurking Ramsey, who swept home. His attempted knee-slide celebration did not correlate with the joyful occasion!


Before Ramsey wrapped things up he had a better chance to finish their opponents after being teed up by Özil, who had been central to everything, but his snap shot was straight at Pantilimon. 

Sam Allardyce’s team nearly made Arsenal pay when Hector Bellerin again lost sight of his man and Van Aanholt fizzed over the bar, but it wasn’t to be. The Gunners the scored through Ramsey as described above and finally were able to take advantage of dropped points from City and United.

The final whistle blew soon after and Arsenal were back to winning ways.

Most telling was that this game was just as testing as the trip to Carrow Road and the loss to West Brom, but Arsenal showed mettle and hung tough when they were on the ropes. 

This side lives on confidence and the last few results had sapped their life force a little. It took a great performance from Özil, Cech and Monreal, as well as a slice of luck and some true showings of grit, to see maximum points bestowed upon our title bid. 

No new injuries, another assist and towering display from Özil, three goals and one point away from deserved leaders Leicester. It’s amazing what a little hard work can gift you.