Vital Football

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Mackems v Gunners Match Preview

Sunderland
vs.
Arsenal

Stadium of Light

9th February, 2013

3pm

Arsenal travel to Sunderland on exactly the same weekend that they did last season in the Premier League, looking for points in their quest to finish in the top 4.

Sunderland are boosted by the arrival of Danny Graham on Wearside and have finally found their feet after some indifferent early season form.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene Wenger is aware of the attacking potential Sunderland have to hurt his Arsenal side this weekend, 'Sunderland have Fletcher, Graham, Sessegnon, Johnson, McLean. They have good offensive potential.

'We are behind and we have to focus on us to win games. The gap is not too big.'

Martin O'Neill is clear that commitment will be the key for Sunderland, 'Arsenal have seen the emergence of one or two young players and, especially going forward, they are absolutely excellent.

'They're looking to cement that Champions League place again for next season. Walcott is in very fine form. The sheer fact that Arsenal can use him in any number of positions bodes well for them.'

Sunderland Team News:

James McLean looks likely to miss the visit of Arsenal as he aggravated an ankle injury on international duty for the Republic of Ireland.

Martin O'Neill must make a decision on Lee Cattermole, who has been training following a knee injury, but reported discomfort on Tuesday. Carlos Cuellar is in line to return from a hamstring injury too.

Wes Brown (knee0 is a long term doubt, Danny Graham is in line for his home debut following a deadline day move from Swnasea City. Connor Wickham has joined Sheffield Wednesday on loan.

Sunderland (from): Mignolet, Westwood, Bardsley, Gardner, O'Shea, Bramble, Cuellar, Kilgallon, Rose, Larsson, Vaughan, N'Diaye, Colback, Johnson, McLean, Sessegnon, Graham, Fletcher, McFadden.

Player to watch: Steven Fletcher

He's scored almost half of Sunderland's league goals this season and has opened the scoring in six Premier League games this year- more than any other player.

Arsenal's habit for sleepy first halves and Flethcer's habit for early goals could be a potent cocktail. Especially as Sunderland are hardly likely to give away many chances tomorrow.

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal will give a late fitness test to Laurent Koscielny, who went off with a calf injury for France against Germany on Wednesday. It is understood he did train on Friday.

Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) is still out, but Aaron Ramsey is fit despite being sent home by Wales on Wednesday with a tight calf.

Francis Coquelin (hamstring) is one game away from return, Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) and Kieran Gibbs (thigh) are out, Gervinho is available but will be rested.

Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Mannone, Sagna, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Squillaci, Monreal, A.Santos, Arteta, Ramsey, Diaby, Wilshere, S.Cazorla, Rosicky, Chamberlain, Walcott, Podolski, Arshavin, Giroud.

Player to watch: Jack Wilshere

After a man of the match performance for England against Brazil on Wednesday, all eyes will be on Jack. Away matches after internationals are often fraught with problems, and Jack will need to have the energy to drive the Arsenal team on.

Sunderland will play a compact midfield and Jack will be charged with weaving and ducking his way round them to supply the front men.

Match Facts & Stats

Stephane Sessegnon has been fouled 61 times this season. More than any other player.

Lukas Podolski has taken part in 10 Arsenal goals in his last 8 appearances, scoring four and assisting six.

The teams have played one another 143 times. Asenal have won 54, Sunderland 50 with 39 draws.

Ref Watch:

Anthony Taylor referees this one.

Match Prediction:

I think this will likely finish in the sort of 1-1 draw that will hardly have neutrals drooling. Sunderland are an obstinate side and I fancy that Fletcher will open the scoring for them and that Walcott will equalise.

Next Fixtures:

Arsenal play Blackburn Rovers at home next Saturday in the 5th Round of the F.A. Cup. Sunderland are away at West Bromwich Albion in a fortnight.


Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Friday February 8 2013
Time: 1:55PM

Comments

0
It looks like one of those games where things could go either way. The Home side do possess potent strikers who can certainly hurt us, should our defence show any lack of organization. The good news is we are also capable of doing them damage. Only concern is with the number of players we have who were on international duty. We have to muster something to get the win in games like these; we could use some of the magic Henry provided us last season, to nick the 3 points we need. The question is who will take up the mantle?
Naijagunner
08/02/2013 22:39:00
0
The kind of game you want the likes of Podolski, Giroud and Theo to rise to the occasion. Well, good luck, lads.
Naijagunner
08/02/2013 22:50:00
0
Should rest Jack really, especially with Bayern only 3 days after. Santi Diaby and Arteta were all interlull free, sure santi travelled but he didn't play. Hope Miguel starts with sack Nacho and Jenks. Pitiful hearing Wenger moan about his lack of options and how he'll have to be creative with the CB position. It's like hearing your woman moan that she's hungry after you told her 10 times that the station you just passed an hour ago was the last foodstop for 300 miles. You made your bed now shut up and feckin deal with it.
nikolaijns
09/02/2013 03:53:00
0
Bayern is on the 19th so plenty of time for Jack to recover. next game is in the FA cup vs Blackburn. Santiago did play for Spain against Uruguay; at least I thought I saw him at some point in the highlights. So did Mertesacker. That defensive suggestion you made above is bound to result in sure defeat. Koscielny should be fit and if we must make a change, Jenks comes in with Sagna as CB. But that won't be the case as Kos should pass the late fitness test.
Naijagunner
09/02/2013 08:20:00
0
*so did Mertesacker, for Germany, of course.*
Naijagunner
09/02/2013 08:22:00
0
It does look like a draw on paper, but I'm hoping someone like Podolski will have other ideas. I also hope JW doesn't start, he must be a bit tired and Sunderland will kick him from pillar to post. Arsene is not moaning about his options, nikolaijns, just saying that he doesn't have many. He was quite jolly, actually.
FunGunner
09/02/2013 13:02:00
0
That first half was outstanding. We usually only play like this when we're 3-0 up. You could see Sunderland were punchdrunk at the end of that.
Arsenales F.C
09/02/2013 15:54:00
0
WTF... is Sagna is our best centre-back? We could've let in 5 in that 2nd half and scored 10 today.
Arsenales F.C
09/02/2013 16:55:00
0
Good result, considering the circumstances. 51% of possession is not bad, and Santi blazed a couple over the bar. And good to see Jack walking onto the pitch after the game.
Wyn Mills
09/02/2013 16:56:00
0
On that evidence, he is by miles.
Arsenales F.C
09/02/2013 16:56:00
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