Sunderland vs Arsenal
Stadium of Lights
All eyes on Mesut Ozil as Arsenal travel to the Stadium of Lights to face a Sunderland side who will be determined to move out of the relegation zone and pick up their first victory of the campaign. Although Paolo Di Canio’s man-management style has been called into question of late, it is his tactical ability that will be tested to the limit in this fixture and it will be interesting to see how his new crop of players play against Arsenal’s accurate passing rhythms.
The match will certainly prove to be a test for both Arsenal and Sunderland as players return to club action after a week long of International football and player’s fatigue will be a serious concern for both managers.
Arsenal who started the campaign with a shocking defeat against Aston Villa at home managed to restore parity with two wins against Fulham and Tottenham and qualifying for the Champions League was the icing on the cake and if that’s not enough the signing of Mesut Ozil has stopped fans asking for Wenger’s head.
Although it was suggested that Mesut Ozil will play in his first Arsenal match, there are rising rumors that he is ill and his long awaited debut may be delayed. The Daily mail reports that, Ozil – together with his countryman Per Mertesacker – arrived at the club’s London Colney HQ this morning feeling under the weather and were immediately told to sit out training. It is said that Ozill will travel to Sunderland but it still remains a doubt as to whether he will start or not as the club medics have admitted that he will be assesed in a late test before the start of the game.
Other casualties include Alex- Oxalade Chamberlian, Thomas Rosicky and Yaya Sanogo. With Mertesacker out with an illness, you can expect Sagna to start along side Koscielny giving Jenkinson another shot at the first team. Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott are all fit and are expected to start and so are Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud.
For Sunderland it is expected that new signing Fabio Borini will make his Black Cats debut (coming in as a sub). The Liverpool attacker who is on loan will join hands with Steven Fletcher in the attacking front to try and a goal scoring threat for them. Fletcher who is still pushing for his first start of the season after getting off the bench to score at Crystal Palace two weeks ago may get his chance today. Jack Colback is expected to keep his place at left-back over new boy Andrea Dossena, while John O’Shea is suspended after his sending-off against the Eagles.
Sunderland: Westwood; Celustka, Diakite, Cuellar, Colback; Johnson, Larsson, Gardner, Ki, Giaccherini; Fletcher
Arsenal: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Walcott; Giroud
- Sunderland have won just eight points from their last 17 Barclays Premier League games against the Gunners.
- Olivier Giroud has scored in three successive league appearances, but has not scored any of his 14 Barclays Premier League goals outside of London.
- Jose Reyes (in 2004/05) scored in each of Arsenal’s opening five Premier League matches.
- Arsenal have scored in eight successive games in the competition; the longest-such current run in the Barclays Premier League.
- Mesut Özil has registered 72 goal assists in the last five seasons – more than any other player across Europe’s top five leagues.
- Only Fulham (21) have allowed their opponents more shots on target this season than Arsenal (17).
- Arsenal have already conceded two goals in the final 15 minutes of Premier League games this season; as many as they conceded in this period in the whole of 2012-13.
- Nine of Steven Fletcher’s 12 Premier League goals for Sunderland have come away from home.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-2 Arsenal