Preview: Sunderland v. Arsenal (a)
I'm a little embarrassed as I've had almost two weeks to get this preview ready, but here I am writing it a little over five hours from kickoff. Oh well.
By now you've probably heard all the injury news, but I'll go over it again. Robin van Persie is out hitting up the maternity ward in Serbia, and it seems he'll be over there for the next 4 to 6 weeks. Gibbs, Sagna, Gallas, and Arshavin need a rest, but Traore, Vela, Theo, Denilson, and Wilshere are all back. So all in all, not too bad of a international interlull.
This leaves us a bit light at the back, and I think Arsene will forced into making six changes to the team that mauled Wolves. I expect a back four of Eboue-Senderos-Vermaelen-Traore. In the midfield, Alex Song will need to be careful not to pick up a booking because he'll miss the Chelsea match if he does. Aaron Ramsey could very well keep his spot alongside Cesc after making Darren Fletcher look like a little school girl. The fluidity between him and Fabregas in the Wolves match was quite good for an untried partnership. Up front, Walcott could be forced right back onto the right wing with van Persie, Arshavin, and Bendtner all not available to start. Though Rosicky or Nasri might be preferred instead. Eduardo will surely occupy van Persie's position.
So if I was Arsene Wenger, this is what my teamsheet would like in a few hours.
Defence: Almunia, Eboue, Senderos, Vermaelen, Traore
Midfield: Song, Ramsey, Fabregas
Forwards: Rosicky, Eduardo, Nasri
Silvestre might get the nod, and while I would normally be worried, somebody on the forum pointed out this week that Malbranque isn't likely to stay out wide and trouble the geezer like Milner did last season.
I don't need to tell you the importance of this game. It will be a struggle but I think we can pull it out. The prospect of Nasri, Eduardo, Rosicky, Fabregas, and Ramsey all starting is mouthwatering. 2-1 to the Arsenal. Eduardo and Rosicky getting the goals.
Have a good weekend Gooners.