Not to tempt fate but the stats would indicate that we are due an relatively easy win today. Mr Wenger has been voted Manager of the Month following a 10 match unbeaten League run and Steve Bruce’s Sunderland have managed just one win since early January. Add into this the fact that Sunderland have not beaten Arsenal in London in 28 years and we can reason to be optimistic. But ……..
this Arsenal team are prone to erratic performances and this season have seen long, unbroken runs fall aplenty (Spurs/WBA/Newcastle).
It should be noted that we have won only one out of the previous 5 meetings with Sunderland. W1,D3,L1
Sunderland’s sudden fall down the table has been surprising. The loss of Bent was a blow but they still have decent strikers and a very strong team ethic. It should be recalled that Muntari cost Inter €18m before his loan to Sunderland, and Henderson looks a fantastic prospect. A central defence of Ferdinand, Mensah and Bramble will be strong at set pieces both defensively and offensively. Gyan looks a fine, aggressive striker, had we signed him and not Chamakh ….
The huge win by the B team on Wednesday will be a major confidence booster, in particular to our strikers., not that our Nik needs such assistance! Nik has his detractors and I guess with a style such as his he will continue to split opinions. One can only look at his record of late and be impressed – 9 goals and 6 assists from a season which started with an extended injury lay-off is very impressive.
Much has been written of Chamakh in the past few days. I feel he is seriously lacking in confidence which is an indictment of the coaching staff. A striker has to be confident, he has to be instinctive and feel secure in his approach, if not he hesitates and we all know what happens to he who hesitates! I would like to see him on the bench today, but expect AW to continue with playing Nik out right. To be fair, it was starting to work v Orient, with both strikers finding themselves in the box simultaneously, more of the same please.
Could we see Ramsey start? I would be surprised but he will receive a warm welcome on his return when he comes on as sub.
I would be tempted to play Rosicky ahead of Diaby but recovery from concussion is an uncertain business and I doubt we will risk him. Diaby has his detractors (BR for one) but when on form he is a superb player. He has to rise to the occasion for the run in or be sold in summer. Arsenal cannot afford to carry players with such a large squad. Fortunately for Diaby, Mr Wenger really rates him, as does the French National manager (Blanc). It is time for him to show why.
If I were Arsenal manager (we would be in the Isthmian League!) I would play both Nasri and Arshavin with either one of them playing behind the main striker and regularly switching wings.
Sunderland appears to have no links to the world of heavy metal. Bryan Ferry is a Mackem as is Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics.
This is a game which must be won. We can move within a point of Man Utd who have a tough assignment tomorrow.
Written by BigRaddy