Arsenal vs Sunderland: Preview

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Premier league action resumes after a mini hiatus as Sunderland travel south to Arsenal. The Blackcats will be arriving in a boisterous mood after having progressed to the quarterfinals of the FA cup and are in their first major cup final for 22 years.   Arsenal after a regrettable and a draining midweek exertion against Bayern should get their heads sorted out and nothing less than 3 points will suffice. The away side have drawn two of their last 4 fixtures 0-0 at the Emirates in the league.

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Arsene Wenger hinted at team changes in his press conference and it won’t be surprising if Mesut Ozil doesn’t start or is completely omitted from the match day squad. The guy needs a breather and taking him out of the spotlight will help him regain some of his lost confidence. If Ozil ever wanted our support it is now, so let’s get behind him instead of slating him on social media, the negativity certainly doesn’t help. Kieran Gibbs is out,Arteta returns and Vermaelen is still not available .  Giroud,  Poldi and Santi  may start given the former two didn’t play at all in midweek and Santi was taken off in the first hour after a red card to Szczesny.

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The Blackcats are the season’s cup specialists but points are required on the board to steer clear from the relegation spots. They lost their last league game 0-2 to Hull however they have kept four clean sheets in their last six games and will try to do what only Chelsea and United have accomplished this season in the league-clean sheet at the Emirates. Keiren Westwood is out while Steven Fletcher and Carlos Cuellar are both nearing full recoveries and Brown is suspended. Gus Poyet has done a commendable job since taking over from Di Canio, the club were a shambles then and it is some achievement by the coaching staff and the players since and they deserve to stay in the league.

 

MAN TO WATCH

Arsenal-Olivier Giroud

The Frenchman after a difficult week in which issues about his private life were revealed,  may start and it is necessary that he puts his personal issues behind him and concentrate on the game.  Giroud made his first appearance for the Gunners in the league against Sunderland and the match was remembered for Giroud’s profligate finishing. Hopefully it will be remembered for something positive this time around.

Sunderland-Vito Mannone

Don Vito returns to the Emirates after moving to Sunderland in the summer in search of more first-team opportunities and you can’t really fault him. He was absolutely sensational against United in the capital one cup semifinal. Arsene  in the build up to the match said “I’m very proud of what he’s doing because I kept him here when he had a trial at the age of 16 because I saw something in him. That’s coming out now which is of course very satisfying. He is a football man, he loves the game and I was always convinced that he would be a great goalkeeper.”

 

Sentiments aside, the month was billed as a big one for the Gunners and it actually didn’t alter the landscape much. We are still a point off the top and are in the FA cup quarterfinals. We may not be firing against the top guns but our record is excellent against the lesser sides. You don’t get 6 points for beating a Chelsea or a City. COYG

 

PREDICTION

Arsenal 2- Sunderland 0

 

 

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