Arsenal have won just once in their last 5 matches whereas Sunderland have managed two wins! Yet the favorites for this match are Arsenal.
Arsenal are getting into quite a form. They may have drawn four consecutive matches before the 4-0 thrashing of Cardiff, but in all those matches Arsenal have dominated big time. The goals have been hard to come by but after the match against Cardiff it seems they have solved their problem of not getting sufficient goals. It will be an interesting match for Arsenal. Their goal is to finish inside the top four and they will possibly do that by leap frogging Aston Villa. Villa’s next 7 fixtures include Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United whereas Arsenal’s corresponding fixtures are all against relatively poor sides. So for Arsenal to achieve their goal, they will have to win all the next seven matches at least as Villa will most probably will drop quite a few points, including this weekend as they face Chelsea. Hence this match as usual has a must win nature. Actually we have been saying this for nearly all matches since the poor start that Arsenal made.
For Sunderland this is not a welcome match. They know Arsenal will give 110% as they are kind of desperate for victory so one can expect them to park the proverbial bus and make Arsenal sweat for their goals. The stats are against Sunderland. Everyone knows Arsenal are a quite dominating at the Emirates (though goals have been hard to come by at home this year, just 18 goals from 12 matches). But Sunderland’s trips to London, since March 2001, have been been unsuccessful mostly. Just two wins. And this season they have just managed a single win against top half opposition from 12 matches with 3 draws and 8 defeats.
So the odds are stacked against Sunderland. They will need much of a miracle to come out with three points, and let’s not forget miracles aren’t impossible!
As for the team news, its the same old long term absences of Fabregas, Walcott and Rosicky. Eduardo was back but is back injured again so he wont be available. Arshavin has had enough time to get fit and ready for this match and is set to make his debut. Djourou is back from illness and Eboue from suspension. Expected line-up:
Sagna Gallas Toure Clichy
Eboue Denilson Song Nasri
van Persie Bendtner
I would love to see Arshavin in place of Eboue and you never know Wenger might well hand him a surprise start. The central midfield partnership of Denilson and Song looked solid against Cardiff. Djourou might also be handed a start considering the aerial threat of Kenwyne Jones and the fact that Gallas and Toure are poor in the air.
Hopefully a win for Arsenal but I expect a narrow one. 1-0 or 2-1.