Arsenal return to Premier League action once again this weekend for the first time since Wednesday 12th February, in the Gunners 0-0 home draw against Manchester United. It may seem like a long time ago considering we have since invited both Liverpool and Bayern Munich to the Emirates in the FA Cup and Champions League respectively. In fact it is little over a week and a half ago that Van Persie and his red devils came to the Emirates but in that time he was the only Robin to cause trouble for the Gunners. Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben caused concern for Arsenal on Wednesday, and it is a result that will need to be overturned, but for now it’s important that the club and the players focus on the next fixture.
Arsenal will welcome Sunderland for the Gunners’ fourth successive home fixture this Saturday, and will be hoping to end the day with a win and one that could see us return to the top of the Premier League. Being in the middle of such a tough period of fixtures, Arsenal need to obtain all three points from this game so that not only we can return to a commanding title race position, but also so our mental strength and belief is boosted once again after going a number of games without too much to be pleased about, results-wise at least.
The Gunners have been in the top three for most of the season, and continue to remain there by the skin of our teeth, however Sunderland too haven’t had it easy this season and although being in the bottom three for a while, they have finally picked themselves up and are currently on a little run of form. With Arsenal faltering ever so slightly, they will be going into the game with nothing to lose and so I wouldn’t be surprised if this game turned out to be a lot tougher than everyone originally thought.
There is no real new injury news ahead of the game besides the unfortunate report that Kieran Gibbs will not be available. The young Englishman has been ruled out for a little while after obtaining an injury in midweek, and so Monreal will return to the starting line up once more. Flamini is available for his first Premier league start in a while, whilst Yaya Sanogo could also continue to lead the Arsenal front line. I expect the team to look something like this:
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Monreal
Rosicky Cazorla Podolski
Although some have stated Giroud could start I think I would quite like to see Sanogo given another chance up front because he would certainly offer more than his national counterpart at the moment. Szczesny is only banned for the Champions League, whilst having only featured for small parts of the game both Cazorla and Rosicky could make the starting line-up. Podolski should play after not featuring at all. It will be a controversial decision whether Ozil starts or not but considering the position he is in, I think he either needs a ‘rest’ because of his fitness or more simply to get out of the media limelight.
Hopefully the Gunners return to winning ways this weekend and can move back to the summit of the Premier League. Many would suggest it should be an easy game for the Gunners but since when has that ever been a fact when it comes to Arsenal. Any win will do though and I am confident we will get it.