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Preview: Sunderland v. Arsenal (a)

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.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Brice Coffer
Date:Saturday November 21 2009
Time: 10:00AM


Must Win Game?
21/11/2009 11:53:00
I'll pitch for Silvestre to start ahead of Traore; more stability and maturity, given the absence of Gallas & Sagna. I did expect Song to smartly, pick up a Yellow in one of the easier games so as to miss this and be ready for Chelsea, but then, what do I know. It will be a difficult game in which Sunderland may well control and have their moments. Arsenal's class will see us through this one, late on. A 2 goal margin is my expectation with Edu, Nasri/Vermaleen/Senderos scoring.
21/11/2009 12:15:00
i think silvestre will get the nod ahead of traore, good to see how senderos performs with vermaelen if he gets picked. this is a tricky tie, and arsenal have a record of winning only 58% of matches directly after internationals. so i hope we are ready and fired up for this one cos we will to be.
21/11/2009 12:18:00
I expect a few nervy moments. But our firepower should be enough to see us through hopefully. I'd also like to see Silvestre in LB because of the experience he brings with a young midfield. I'm just glad Song, Eduardo, Ramsey and Senderos didn't have to play in the Nov 18 round of fixtures and Rosicky and Nasri should be entirely fresh.
21/11/2009 14:24:00
Almunia Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Traore Ramsey Song Fabregas Rosicky Eduardo Nasri Subs: Mannone, Vela, Walcott, Denilson, Silvestre, Arshavin and Eboue
21/11/2009 14:30:00
Why is Sagna starting!? I can understand Gallas, but Bac was running all over the place vs Ireland, and Eboue's more than capable to replace him, especially after scoring vs Germany. I know Bacary is a warrior, but surely he deserves a rest. I'm personally glad to see Traore start. It would be very harsh to leave him out. If we're really letting him fight it out with Kieran we couldn't make him miss this opportunity could we? It's not 2006, we're not going to need 8 left-backs this year, and this could be one of his last chances to make an impression.
21/11/2009 14:43:00
Eboue also played a game, you know.
21/11/2009 14:48:00
Guess the Manager is looking at the importance of this game, versus the CL game, mid week (where he can afford to string the changes). Should have guessed when he spoke about the importance of not making too many changes in a winning team.
21/11/2009 14:58:00
hopefully Cana won't hurt anyone
21/11/2009 15:02:00
Yes Tom but 'only' 90 minutes, and, although I didn't watch Eboue's game, I saw Bacy's and he was doing a hell of a lot of running. I suppose you're right Naijagunner, and it's why I would've kept Gallas in, but I personally think Eboue fits in very well with our winning formula. But I'll happily go along with Arsene's decision of course (not that I have much choice).
21/11/2009 15:07:00
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