Sunderland v Arsenal preview and betting prediction

Arsenal make the long trip north to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland on Saturday, and will be looking to return with all three points.

The odds on Arsenal winning the game are not huge, but the form of the two sides only points to one possible result.

The Gunners come into the match having eight of their last nine matches in all competitions, with Middlesbrough the only team to come away with a spirited draw.

Sunderland come into the match in disgraceful form on the other hand, with two draws and seven losses from their nine league matches this term, picking up only one point from their four home matches.

David Moyes is now under pressure from the fans who are calling from the Scotsman to be sacked, and you can hardly blame them with the Premier League life under some serious threat at this early part in the term.

The under-fire boss will be hoping that he can get his first win of the campaign, and his most likely hope will come from the fact that Arsenal could be without Santi Cazorla, whose absence last week seemed to leave the Gunners with less of a creative spark.

Danny Welbeck, Per Mertesacker and Chuba Akpom are long-term absentees from the Arsenal squad, but Lucas Perez has now been ruled out until December with an ankle injury too.

Granit Xhaka is also ruled out of the upcoming match having picked up an unnecessary red card against Swansea in gameweek seven, but Arsenal should expect to see Aaron Ramsey return to the first-team squad.

Predicted Arsenal XI:

Cech
Bellerin  Mustafi  Koscielny  Monreal
Coquelin  Elneny
Walcott  Ozil  Iwobi
Alexis

The Black Cats only clean sheet this season came against League One side Shrewsbury Town in the League Cup, and you cant possibly foresee their first in the Premier League coming on Saturday.

David Moyes could be under even more pressure after we are done with them this week, and I’m gunning for Arsenal to pile the pressure on from the off. My bet of the week will be for Arsenal to win both halves at bigger than 2/1 (3.0) with most bookmakers, but I’ll also have a go at a 3-0 away win also.

I firmly expect our side to grab the chance to go top of the table with the early game and put pressure on our rivals, with many rivals facing daunting challenges over the weekend.

What are your picks for this weekend’s trip north?

Arsenal set to complete 2nd January transfer deal

It might not exactly fill the average Arsenal fan with delight, but this second transfer deal of the January window should at least put a smile on the face of our French international right back Mathieu Debuchy.

The 30-year old has made no secret of his frustration at having to play second fiddle to the young Spaniard Hector Bellerin and with the Euro 2016 championships being played in his home country this summer, Debuchy has begun to really up the ante with his grumbling.

So it appears that Arsene Wenger is not going to stand in his way and with Metro reporting that the player is wanted by two Premier League clubs in Aston Villa and Sunderland, it is almost certain that Debuchy will be on his way out of the Emirates Stadium some time in the next few days.

It is only going to be a loan deal and with both of the prospective new clubs still to play a few of our Premier League rivals that could even help out title bid. However, it will leave Arsenal exposed if Bellerin picks up a knock. We have Calum Chambers but would he be good enough to cover for the super Spaniard?

Positivity and Passion will see Arsenal right says Wenger

Arsene Wenger has reminded his Arsenal players that they have a tough test ahead of them today in the 3rd round of the FA cup against Sunderland, because this season and recent years has taught us that any Premier League team can cause us an upset on their day.

But the Gunners have ways of making sure that today is not their day, by turning up with the right attitude and putting in the right sort of performance from the first whistle at the Emirates stadium. History beckons for Arsenal as this year gives us a chance to be the first club for 130 years to win the FA cup three times in a row but just like in the game today, Arsenal need to be on it from the start to keep this hope alive.

So in a report on the Arsenal website the Frenchman is calling for a positive attitude from the team and also for the passion to make sure that we treat the Black Cats with all due respect.

Wenger said, “Everybody wants to achieve something special but the best way to do it is to go step by step. We play against a Premier League team and we have learnt in the last 20 games that any Premier League team is a massive problem to face. The only way to deal with it is to give absolutely everything.

“It’s a good challenge [to try and win three in a row] and we’ll take it on. We have the desire to do well and to do it again. Let’s see how we get on in the first test and let’s deal with that. We have enough confidence, enough desire, so let’s turn up with a positive performance.

“The FA Cup has been fantastic for me. When I was a child I dreamed of winning the FA Cup and now, when I look back, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to Wembley so many times.

“It’s always a special moment but this is a new start all over again. It’s a long journey to get there and that’s why we have good memories. We want to start well again.”

Wenger has also hinted that he will make a few changes to the starting line up, with second choice keeper David Ospina set to start his first game since the Champions League calamity. But I do not expect too many changes as the boss targets this incredible FA cup record.

Giroud reveals delight after helping Arsenal team mate to shine

After scoring an own goal on the stroke of half time which looked like giving Arsenal the blues against a lower placed team we were expected to blow way for the third Premier League game in a row, the big Frenchman was clearly delighted and relieved to be able to restore our lead with a great piece of movement in the box and a well taken header.

But the big centre forward seemed to be just as happy that his fellow forward Joel Campbell had got himself on the score sheet, a fine first half finish to make it two goals in his last three Premier League starts. Giroud backed the young Costa Rican to carry on from his latest goal and good performance and explained why he was so happy for Campbell.

It has not been easy since he signed for the Gunners all those years, with years on loan waiting for a work permit and then a very hard job breaking into the first team. But the French forward revealed that his mate has showed great character and attitude and that Giroud had tried his best to help him and keep his spirits high.

He told Arsenal Player, “I’m happy for him because he has the opportunity to show his talent. He’s a top guy who is very generous on the pitch because he never gives up.

“It’s not always been easy for him but I always used to speak with him, encourage him and when he’s playing like that he’s very important for us.

“Hopefully we’re going to see more of him in that form.

“I was frustrated but now I’m very pleased to score the second goal and help the team win the game.

“We needed this win and it was not very easy, not everything was perfect, but this win will relieve us.”

Well done Campbell and Giroud, but can they do it again and get us into the next phase of the Champions League?

Arsenal were poor! Wenger doesn’t care! We won!

Arsene Wenger has often been slammed for his perceived favouring of style over substance, especially in the 10 years or so since Arsenal last won the Premier League. Before that he was rightly praised for the entertaining, fluent and attack minded style of football he had brought to England.

It is certainly true that in recent years we could have done with a bit more practicality and ability to grind out results to balance the pretty passing game. But I do think that Arsenal have added more of this part of the game over the last year or two.

And this new outlook from the manager was highlighted with his post match interview after we managed to beat Sunderland this weekend without playing well. As reported by Arsenal.com the Frenchman was happy to admit that the Gunners were not at their best and he himself had been nervous going in to the game, but he also suggested that he really did not care too much as it was the result that was all important.

Wenger said, “In my mind I was a little bit more nervous than usual because I felt it was a pivotal game. It was our first game without the injured players and we absolutely had to win.

“We played against a difficult team who were well organised and good on the break, so all the ingredients were there for a disappointing result. Because we hadn’t won for three games people would have said we were in a crisis, so it was important to get the win.

“We were a bit edgy, a bit nervous, in the first half but in the second half we played with more freedom, fluency and incisiveness which is how we won the game. It was a tough one and if you look at the results in the Premier League it was like that.

“It’s been a good day for us, because we have won the game and that makes helps us prepare for Olympiacos. Secondly it puts us in an interesting position again and that’s all positive. The squad that was out there for Sunderland – the good news is that we won and that we don’t have any injuries. It makes it obvious for the media to guess who will go to Olympiacos.”

Are you just happy with the win or are you worried about how Arsenal played?

WOW! Stoke open door for Arsenal to go top

There is still a long way to go in the game, but Arsenal fans will already be feeling excited after Stoke City doubled their lead against the current league leaders Man City. The Potters have the backing of their vocal home crowd and having gone 2-0 up at the Britannia Stadium they will be absolutely buzzing right now.

Man City are without their captain and best centre back Victor Kompany and while they may have David Silva back they have no Sergio Aguero to finish things off up front and they have no Yaya Toure driving them forward from the centre of midfield.

So if Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal players were looking for some sort of boost as we prepare to host Sunderland and get the Premier League title challenge back on track, this shock from Stoke could be just the thing. All we need now is fro the home team to hold out and then the Gunners could go above City with a win over the Black Cats.

Talking Tactics for Arsenal v Sunderland!

Ahead of the game against Sunderland, the Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has urged his side to be more direct and decisive in their game, labelling the home defeat to Swansea as an accident and challenging his players to redeem themselves when they welcome Sunderland to the Emirates, knowing that three points will guarantee automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League group stages.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Wenger said: “For me the Swansea game was an accident. Having analysed it, it’s one of the games we deserved to win the most out of all the games. We lost two in two or three years now, so you can say that’s an accident.

“Sunderland need a point to be safe so I expect them to be well organised defensively, sound at the back, and to try to use all the counter-attacks they can, all the set-pieces they have, to score goals. We have to put a high rhythm into this game and play with a high level of energy to win the game.”

Keeping this in mind, there are a few things that the team really need to execute when taking to the field against Sunderland. Considering the obvious fact that Dik Advocaat’s side will try and make the maximum use of set pieces, Arsenal cannot afford to give away cheap free kicks. Since Sunderland need only a point to confirm their survival, you can expect them to come and park the bus, as pointed out by Wenger. So preferably, we will be starting with Theo on the right flank and Ramsey partnering Coquelin in midfield.

Jermain Defoe however, is the Wearsiders’ biggest threat and the former Spurs striker will be extra motivated to score against the old enemy. The Englishman has done a brilliant job since arriving in January and the Arsenal defence have to very quick in closing him down on the ball and making sure he does not drift into space unnoticed. Despite their lacklustre performances this season, this Sunderland attack is indeed capable of damage and the Gunners cannot take them lightly.

In regards to the attack, I believe Wenger got it spot on, we need to be more direct and incisive. Sunderland’s defence will be organized and well-drilled, but if Arsenal can manage an early goal, they will be forced to come out and play, which is when Arsenal can take the game away from them and book a place in next season’s Champions League.

FINALLY the luck has turned for Arsenal

A bit of luck can go a long way in football and it seems like it has all been going against Arsenal since the start of the current season. We cannot blame all out troubles on luck, but it certainly has not been on our side either, until this week that is.

Apart from the knock picked up our England international left back this week, Arsenal have come through two games unscathed and we even have quite a few important players coming back into fitness. We will have to wait and see of course, but Gibbs’ knock looked like an impact injury and hopefully will not mean him missing any games.

Two defensive errors from Sunderland gifted Alexis two goal and a comfortable win for the Gunners. And on the back of our unlikely turnaround against Anderlecht on Wednesday, things are looking a lot better. Champions League qualification looks certain and we could still have a chance of topping the group.

In the Premier League, two of our big rivals, Liverpool and Man City, slipped up and the table does not look too bad for us. Assuming that West Ham and Southampton do not keep up thgeir early results, Arsenal can feel relieved, if not amazed, that we are just three points behind Man City and ahead of all of our other big rivals.

How that is the case when we have been way off our best I am not sure, but we will take it. And hopefully the team can now find some form and keep an unlikely title challenge alive, with struggling Burnley next up. We really needed a few results to stop the rot and I really think that lady luck has smiled on us for once.

Arsenal need to PROVE they are still a Big Team against Sunderland

Arsenal travel to the Stadium of Light later today, as the Gunners look to pile the misery on Sunderland who were battered 0-8 by a spirited Southampton side last weekend. However, this game, on the pitch, is going to be a lot more competitive than anticipated, as the visitors aren’t in the best of form either, and lack options when tested.

The Black Cats, under Gus Poyet, are (were?) a very good side, and this home game against Arsenal gives them a chance to rectify their 8-0 reverse, thereby reminding other clubs in the English top flight that they are no punch bags. Having said that, what kind of a game does Arsenal have in store against the Black Cats?

Arsenal will have their task cut out against Sunderland who, at home, aren’t going to let the Gunners runaway with it. Danny Welbeck has been impressive, and this is the kind of game where the Englishman needs to stand up, and put away every little chance that comes his way. Playing against small sides, your No.9 has got to stand up, and do their primary job of finding the back of the net. Otherwise, it’s going to be a struggle for the whole side.

The visitors are bound to enjoy plenty of possession, but it will, as always, come down to how effective they can be when in possession of the ball. Sunderland could well park the bus, and challenge Arsenal to break through the double-layered defensive line, which is where the Gunners’ mental strength could be tested.

Aaron Ramsey, if he starts for Arsenal, will be of significant boost to the visitors, as the Welshman has been their conjurer in the last couple of seasons. Ramsey has the panache, and maturity to keep the Arsenal machine running smoothly, even when the chips are down. The Welshman works hard for the team, and won’t hesitate to cover 60-70 yards to render Arsenal the defensive cover that they would need, without Laurent Koscielny in there, alongside Mertesacker. With Santi Cazorla struggling to find his best form, Arsenal lacked incision in the midfield, which is why they struggled against Hull City last weekend. Ramsey, with his calming influence on Arsenal, can get them playing better than they have.

This isn’t going to be a huge tactical battle, with both sides playing to rectify what have been unimpressive starts to their respective campaigns. The game could be decided on whether or not Arsenal can take control of proceedings, run the show, be patient for an opening, and then see it out. Finally, this will be a test of Arsenal’s mental strength, and their ability to play like a big team.

Nicklas Bendtner’s selective memory of his Arsenal career!

The famous Danish international Nicklas Bendtner has watched Arsenal fans celebrate the new contracts awarded to Thomas Rosicky and Per Mertesacker, and the clamour of opinion wanting Bacary Sagna to extend his current deal, but no-one seems to care that his own contract is set to expire this summer!

On the contrary, most Gooners can’t wait to see the back of the big-headed immature pain in the ARSEnal! It is not so much his lack of committment to the Arsenal cause when he actually got a few games, it was the way he conducted himself outside the club. We can all remember the first time he was caught with his trousers down on his way out of a nightclub….

Since then he has had a few drink-driving incidents, including smashing his car up driving home one night: plus a few more nightclub incidents, once famously when he came out of a Copenhagen club when he had told his club he was recovering from injury, and then tried to get a free pizza! And of course how many times has he turned down clubs because they weren’t in the Champions League (or wouldn’t pay him what he THOUGHT he was worth) while he believed he was good enough for Barcelona….

Remember his time at Sunderland where he actually scored 8 goals, before going to Milan and scoring a big fat ZERO, and he opened his big mouth and said things like: “I will never go back to Arsenal. If I can have it my way, I will never play for them again.

“After my car accident I never really got the chance to earn a spot in the first team. That is over one-and-a-half years with no real chance to prove myself”.

Well it seems that Bendtner himself remembers very little of all this, and is now desperate for Arsenal to offer him a new contract. He said, “I have been very positive and I feel I have shown every time I have played that I want to play there. I don’t think I have ever like pulled my socks down and been like `f*** this, I don’t care`, but I have played like I had a future there, and I am going to continue doing that until the end of the season, then we might part ways.

“I will have no hard feelings I have had a good time there, and if it does finish for us, then I am going to be a bit upset, but that is football, that is life.

“I have, for example, talked to clubs who say they have heard this or that story about me. So I have to tell them that it is not true. Of all the things that I have been associated with I have only done one thing wrong and that was in Copenhagen [where he was arrested for drink driving]. Regardless of this I have, bit by bit, in people’s eyes been made into a psychopath.

“You have to try to stay professional about it, I work for myself and if I do get the chance to play, then I am an Arsenal player still and I will do everything I can to help the team, which is what I have been doing. It is hard, though, when you feel like you have something to contribute, but do not have the opportunity. But I know the situation I am in and if that has an effect on why I don’t play, then that is up to the manager.”

So his reputation is all just in other peoples minds, and he has been a model proffessional all his life? Pull the other one Nicklas!

Enjoy your next career in the Danish Second Division if you can even find someone to employ you there…..