Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has called upon midfielder Aaron Ramsey to step up and make his presence felt, as Arsenal prepare to host Sunderland later today. Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Wenger insisted that the team were capable of performing up to expectations even without the injured players; provided that Ramsey and the others delivered good performances.
The manager was secretive with the potential lineup, claiming that Calum Chambers and Ramsey were both eligible to play and had cleared their fitness checks. This is especially important for Ramsey, who is just returning from a three week injury layoff. The Welshman seemed to be struggling against Norwich, and did not make any positive impact on that game, but Wenger assured fans that he was fit and ready to go once more.
This is what the manager had to say:
It is a possibility [for Ramsey], yes. For him it is a good opportunity if he plays there [in central midfield], that is where he prefers to play. I can use [Chambers there too] if needed, he can play there.
It is very difficult [against these teams] and we have just seen that at Norwich and West Brom, where we had about 70 per cent possession in the two games. In the two games together we had four shots against us and conceded three goals, so that shows it is difficult.
We face a team on Saturday that has recently taken points, is well organised and has gone to a very strong defensive system under Sam Allardyce. They have gained some confidence in their system so we expect a tough game.
It is important [to be back at the Emirates] because we feel strong at home and we have the support of our fans. We have had two very physical, very difficult away games and we were a bit unlucky. The comfort to play at home is important.
The Sunderland game promises to be physical as well, since the Black Cats never shy away from making challenges. Sam Allardyce is also a big believer in route one football, something that could be a problem, since Mertesacker has struggled to cope with aerial balls this season. However, the home advantage could make the difference, and hopefully we should be able to take all three points today.