Arsenal-Sunderland: Arsene Wenger's Chance To Bounce Back After Porto Calamity

Robin SAnalyst IFebruary 20, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05:  Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal has his penalty saved by Thomas Sorensen of Stoke City during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 5, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
Phil Cole/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger's team is not looking solid when it matters the most. A defeat to Porto away from home is not the end of the world, but the way Arsenal gave the freedom to the opposition was ridiculous.

The full-backs (Gael Clichy) were torn apart, and the goalkeeper, Lukacz Fabianski's shocking and ludicrous performance ensured that he's set to feature on the bench forever.

Arsenal must put the self-destructing tendencies behind them ahead of the crucial fixture against Sunderland.

Arsenal need to win all their remaining games to give themselves any chance of winning the League. Arsenal dropped three points at Stadium of Light when these two teams last met in the early part of the season.

It was a tight game and Sunderland deserved the victory, but the game at the Emirates summons a new vigor into the Arsenal players which might be enough to ease past the Sunderland hurdle.

But Arsenal's injury list seems to be getting longer and longer and a really worrying factor. Abou Diaby has been ruled out after injuring his knee against Porto. Even Wenger is not sure how this has happened.

"We lost Abou Diaby. It is not understandable.

"I don't know how it worked but he has a medial knee ligament injury," said Wenger.

However, Alex Song could be back to face Sunderland.

After the dismal performance of Fabianski, Manuel Almunia's return to fitness is essential. If all goes well, Almunia will start this game.

However, William Gallas, Eduardo, and Andrei Arshavin will miss this game due to injury.

Wenger doesn't have too many options at the back, so Sol Campbell is set to continue in the absence of Gallas, alongside Thomas Vermealen.

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas will be the key along with Nicklas Bendtner.

Bendtner seems to be a much better player now. Although, he's not scoring goals, his link-up play has improved drastically.

Clichy's poor form and lack of sharpness is a cause for concern. He's expected to hit the best form in the fag end of the season, as he's one of the best players on the Arsenal squad.

Meanwhile, Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is hoping that star striker Darren Bent can turn the fortunes of his side by scoring against the Gunners.

Bent's solitary goal was enough to seal three points against Arsenal in the previous fixture, but since then, Arsenal went from strength to strength, while Sunderland messed up a good beginning to the campaign.

Andy Reid's injury is more good news for the Arsenal faithful. Sunderland, like Arsenal, are struggling with injury problems, and their current form is not doing any good to their confidence.

Last week, Sunderland scrambled against a relegation-threatened Portsmouth side and dropped two points in that game.

Sunderland would be extra cautious not to concede in the early part of the game.

One of their most influential midfielders, Lee Cattermole, is set to miss this game, but Keiran Richardson and Anton Ferdinand are available after injury lay-offs.

Don't be surprised to find Bruce fielding a side including 10 defenders!

Sunderland is inching towards the relegation zone after going winless in their last 12 league games.

Once mid-table, now out of the League!

Keeping all these factors in mind, a Sunderland victory today will be nothing but a miracle.

Possible Starting XI


             Sagna   Campbell   Vermealen   Clichy


                        Fabregas         Denilson

            Rosicky                                   Nasri


Prediction Time

Sunderland's depleted midfield will have a tough time against Fabregas. Alex Song's presence will surely make it more difficult for any opposition, let alone Sunderland.

Campbell's lack of pace might allow speedy Bent to sneak a goal.

A 3-1 victory for Arsenal.


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