Sunderland host Arsenal on Saturday lunchtime in a bid to earn their first league win of the season, at the tenth time of asking. The two sides had contrasting fortunes in the EFL Cup in midweek; Arsenal cruising past Reading and Sunderland losing 1-0 at Southampton. The pressure continues to mount on David Moyes, and with the visitors winning seven of their last eight in all competitions, I can’t see anything but an away win in this one.
Rooted to the bottom of the table on only two points, the Black Cats are surely relegation favourites this season. Arsenal will smell blood at the Stadium of Light and try their best to heap more misery upon Wearside. Though they will have to do so without the in-form Theo Walcott, the England forward has been ruled out with an illness, Wenger revealed yesterday. The other Arsenal absentees are Spaniards Cazorla and Monreal, as well as Granit Xhaka who is still suspended. For the hosts, Manchester United and Manchester City loanees Adnan Januzaj and Jason Denayer are unlikely to feature due to injuries but other than that they have a fully fit squad.
Sunderland are likely to pack the midfield in order to prevent Arsenal from settling into a passing rhythm. If they can do so, they have a chance of getting something from the game, especially with veteran goal scorer Jermaine Defoe posing a constant threat. Arsenal’s players however are more than good enough to pick the lock and create a chance from nothing, and with the likes of Sanchez and Ozil on the pitch they may only need one chance to win the game.
Arsenal will be looking to extend their solid run of form; also with this being the weekend’s first Premier League fixture they have the chance to go to the top of the table, putting pressure on the other front runners of Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham to get a result.
For Sunderland, each game is becoming a must win with daylight being opened up between them and Middlebrough in 17th place. Serious questions must be asked of Moyes’ capability if the slump continues. I don’t think there is any chance of a shock on the cards here, my prediction is Sunderland 1-4 Arsenal.