The Gunners dropped a 2-0 home contest to Bayern in the first leg of their round of 16 matchup, severely hampering their chances of survival into the next round. But they will take solace in the fact that they are just one point back from leading the EPL table.
Sunderland are still flirting with relegation zone as they sit in 18th place, but they have won two of their last three in all competitions and are on the cusp of surviving into next season in the Premier League.
Plenty is at stake for each club, each in different ways. Let's break down everything you need to know about the match.
Where: Emirates Stadium, London, England
When: Saturday, Feb. 22 at 10 a.m. ET/3 p.m. GMT
TV: USA Network
Live Stream: NBC Premier League Live Extra
Top Storyline: How Will Gunners Respond to Title Pressure?
Arsenal have proven their worth in the league thus far by staying at or near the top of the table. But it's safe to say the title pressure is kicking in now more than ever.
The clock is ticking down fast. The Gunners have 12 league games left, but they haven't won a match in EPL play since Feb. 2.
After a throbbing from Liverpool and a tough draw with Manchester United, with the Bayern loss sprinkled in, Arsene Wenger and company will want to get back to their winning ways now, especially with a hapless foe coming in.
Wenger echoed that thought on Friday, per the club's official website:
It's back to the Premier League for us. There is a mental adjustment we have to make because we have played in three different competitions in one week.
But we have to get the negative vibes out after the last game and get into the Premier League again. The challenges that we have ahead are massive, but extremely exciting as well, so it's important that we are not down because of the result against Bayern Munich.
As Wenger noted, the Gunners faced three different levels of competition this past week—the FA Cup, Champions League and now the EPL.
But it's imperative that his club focuses on the latter now more than the rest at this point.
Entering Week 27, Arsenal are just one point out of the league lead. If they stay in this spot for the next 12 weeks, they will have a serious shot at the title in a season that was supposed to result in mediocrity.
Arsenal have struggled in recent outings, which is understandable given the opposing quality. But with Sunderland coming in, the Gunners have no reason to slip up other than a lack of focus and preparation.
The drag is certainly wearing on Arsenal's top players, who are needing a rest. However, there is too great of an opportunity in front of them to come up short due to fatigue or focusing on other tournaments.
Arsenal won't be as well-rested as they normally are, and Sunderland are undoubtedly playing better than they normally tend to. But the talent gap between these two sides is undeniable.
Other than Adam Johnson, Sunderland don't have any performers capable of penetrating Arsenal's defense. Meanwhile, the Gunners have a heap of offensive playmakers hungry to make their struggles against Bayern a distant memory.
Look for Arsenal to blow this one open and prove they control their own destiny for a title.
Arsenal 4, Sunderland 1
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