This is one of the most important matches in Arsenal’s season. It will definitely determine whether we crumble again in February or if our players step up to the occasion. I know many consider Sunderland a hard match but it’s one we should be winning. The Gunners beat them last week and I can’t see why we can’t do it again. The only difference is the mid-week result but if Arsene Wenger’s team is serious about the remainder of our season, they will forget about it and move on.
The ground is still extremely poor in comparison to the Emirates. Sunderland will look to take advantage of that and try and break up our play. It will be a difficult task to stick to our ‘silky play’ but we need to because we clearly can’t cope with switching up the tactics. Koscielny and Mertesacker will be missing from our defence today and it will hurt.
Luckily, Gibbs has returned and we can look forward to Vermaelan playing in the middle. However who will partner him? It would most likely be Djourou and in that case, I seriously don’t have much faith in the outcome of the match. The guy is a shambles and I’ve made that clear in many of my articles. However, he could have a blinder like he did against Barca, who knows? We could opt to move Song to the back and play Coquelin. That is my favoured option simply because I have considerable more faith in those two players. I feel Coquelin is good enough for this match and deserves a call up.
The middle will probably contain Ramsey instead of Rosicky. Ramsey will be needed for his insane work rate as this match will stretch us. Personally I would prefer Arshavin but I’ve given up on the hope that he’ll be played in his favoured position anytime soon. Arteta will remain as our box to box player. He hasn’t had a bad match until Wednesday but I think he will bring himself back to Earth against the Black cats.
The attack should contain Arshavin and the Ox for me. Walcott has been poor as a starter and we could capitalise on his pace late game. Van Persie picks himself.
My preferred line up is:
I expect a 3-2 win from Arsenal. Here’s hoping we get out of this February rut we always seem to have. Come on you Gunners!