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Sunderland vs. Arsenal

Stadium of Light

9th February, 2013


Mackems v Gunners Match Preview

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.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday February 8 2013

Time: 1:55PM

Your Comments

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?
The kind of game you want the likes of Podolski, Giroud and Theo to rise to the occasion. Well, good luck, lads.
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.
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.
*so did Mertesacker, for Germany, of course.*
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.
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
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
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
On that evidence, he is by miles.
Arsenales F.C
If you have to disguise your substitution as an injury, because you think most people will see it and think it's a bad idea - it is probably a bad idea.
Arsenales F.C
What a fantastic win, Chesney, Bac, Ramsey, all of the boys were warriors today. Big relief that Jack isn't too badly hurt.
I had to catch my breath after that one. The old ticker can't take too much more of games like this. At times, it looked like both teams just let things rip which just shows why it is important to take your chances when they come. A good 3 points, considering the spuds won.
Arsenales. If you are suggesting Jack isn't injured, it could be a relief but seeing the way he called out to the bench as soon as he went down, he must have felt something. Diaby did look sluggish, like a man who needs playing time. On another day, he could have taken the chance he had to beat Mignolet. Szczesny and Bacary kept us in the game. Thumbs up to them and the entire team. Jenks shouldn't have gone into that challenge knowing he was on a yellow, but it all went well and we can go back to see areas for improvement before the next game.
That was tough! It was a battling win and Szczesny was awesome in the 2nd half (as Mignolet was in the 1st). We were quite impressive in the 1st half, playing nice and accurate passes, and our goal was great: Wilshere's driving run, follow b a Walcott assist and Cazorla with a low bullet from 20 yards with the outside of his left foot. I love goals like that,it was sweet. As for the 2nd half siege, again I thought Szczesny was great and commanded his area well, Sagna was imperious as CB and Giroud helped out a lot too, Ramsey did well at RB but we just could not finish our chances. Jenkinson was idiotic to whack down Sessegnon and be sent off - it was completely unnecessary as we had men in the box to clear any potental cross. Anyway, good win today, another 1-0 to the Arsenal. Hopefully Jack has a speedy recovery though his injury didn't look too bad.
I owe Bacary an apology after doubting his quality this season.
Well he didn't get any treatment then went and sat on the subs bench. It looked planned to me, but I'm of a generally suspicious nature and never take anything at face value.
Arsenales F.C
how did sagna made those interceptions & szczesney those saves? simply amazing. the 4 mins of added time must be one of the longest in my life
City were woeful against Southampton today. Not the stuff of defending champions, not taking anything from the saints, you would expect better from such an expensively packaged team. The midweek exertions was evident in most of the internationals city parade, but knowing what is at stake, you just expected more.
Wonder how much longer before Mancini gets the sack.
I watched that as well, mainly to watch Cork and Schneiderlin. They both looked good, impressed with Cork's one touch passing and positioning, impressed with Schneiderlin's energy and industry. I didn't realise Cork played so many one touch passes, it makes sense as he has high passing stats. Problem with Cork is he gets in front of goal and looks like a deer in the headlights. With his passing ability he should be a good finisher, but he looks scared of goal. He should definitely be playing for England over Cleverly though.
Arsenales F.C
Jenkinson will learn with more experience, and it's one of those indicators that he's not yet ready to earn a place in starting the XI every week. Sagna's lack of form recently was a rarity in his Arsenal career, and I don't think he has lost it, and I certainly don't think he should be sold in the summer if he can't agree a contract extension.

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