Sunderland vs Arsenal Preview Saturday Sept. 14
Arsenal has recovered well from their opening-day jitters and has been playing some solid and entertaining football. They still have some injuries to deal with, but the big news around the Emirates over the past week or so has been the addition of German international midfielder Mesut Ozil who was transferred from Real Madrid for about 42 million pounds.
Ozil will get his Gunners and English Premier League debut on Saturday September 14 when Arsene Wenger’s side travel north to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland. Arsenal currently sits fourth in the table with six points from a pair of wins and a loss with five goals for and four against. Sunderland, as they usually do, occupies a spot in the lower half of the standings.
Manager Paolo Di Canio has brought in well over a dozen players during the offseason and has tried to stamp his authority on the team, but they have just one point so far this season. Sunderland has managed a just a draw to go along with a pair of losses in their first three season contests. They’ve scored just twice and have allowed five against. Di Canio will be without defender John O’Shea as he sits out with a suspension. He could also be missing Connor Wickham, Lee Cattermole, Phil Bardsley and Craig Gardner due to various injuries.
Abou Diaby, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Vermaelen are still out of the Gunners lineup with injuries and it looks like midfielders Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Yaya Sanogo could also miss the match. In addition, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere will be game-time decisions. This leaves Olivier Giroud as the club’s only healthy recognized striker/centre forward at the moment. Walcott enjoys playing down the middle and could always be used there if he’s healthy.
Danish international Nicklas Bendtner is still with the squad as is fellow striker Park Chu-young. However, it leads to the question as to why Wenger didn’t bring in another striker during the transfer window. Vermaelen, the Gunners’ skipper has returned to training, but it’s unclear when he’ll be able to return to game action.
Arsenal has won five of their last nine visits to Sunderland with the host team winning just once and the other three ending in draws. Overall, Sunderland has a win, two losses and three draws in their past six home matches against all competition while arsenal has won six in a row on the road. Arsenal has won three of the last five league meetings with Sunderland with a loss and a draw thrown in as well. The two sides played to a 0-0 draw at the Emirates in august last season with Arsenal winning the away fixture 1-0 in February.
Over the years these clubs have met a total of 138 times and the record is quite close. The Gunners have won 53 matches while losing 46 and drawing 39 and outscoring their opponents 216 to 192. Their overall record in Sunderland currently stands at 17 victories, 30 defeats and 22 draws. Arsenal has won four and lost once in their past five matches against all opposition while Sunderland has a win, a draw and three defeats.
This is going to be an interesting match to see how Ozil fits in with the Arsenal midfield. He’s a fantastic playmaker and with Santi Cazorla, Wilshere, Arteta and Ramsey joining him there should be plenty of opportunities created for the team’s forwards for the rest of the season. All three points are needed here if Arsenal is to have a legitimate shot at the league title this season.