After a not-so-gracious loan exit by Nicklas Bendtner this past transfer window, Arsenal are in more need than ever to shut down the in-form striker and make a statement as to how serious of a challenge they can put up for the league.
To do that, Arsenal are going to need to need some key points of emphasis against this Black Cats side.
A lot of pressure falls on these guys.
Defense has been Arsenal's main downfall so far this campaign.
With talents such as Thomas Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna out, Arsenal have truly been struggling to keep goals out of the net. Whether the opponent is scoring or they themselves are scoring.
They key to keeping a strong defensive showing is to not fall to easy counterattacks. Sure, keep a constantly adjusting defense and avoid being caught flat, but Arsenal need to adjust to plays quicker and not be caught with one or both outside defensive players up the field.
Arsenal need to feed Van Persie.
If there's one thing he's been hinting at the past few weeks, it's that he's lonely up top.
The main reason for that is because the Arsenal midfield have been lost. Or rather, they have been losing the ball. If there is is one thing that frustrates a forward to no end, it's that running back and forth in front of the back line. This attempt is to open up a defense so a shot can be taken from either the forward themselves or a compatriot; it's seeing the ball being lost and all of your tactical hustle being put to waste.
Arsenal need to clean up their act through the midfield. Hold up play, win back balls and distribute efficiently, such is the Arsenal way.
This man will be key to their breakout speed.
If there's one thing Arsenal have lacked this season, it's that cutting edge. That decisive play that they used to be known for. The ability to slot passes all around the pitch, stretch their opponents out and then jump on that one opportunity when they have their guard let off.
The Arsenal of this 2011-2012 season have looked slow, lethargic and just genuinely uninterested. I'm sure there are bound to be a few problems with new teammates getting into the grove of things, but it really shouldn't be taking this long.
What Arsenal need to do against the Black Cats is come out of the gates flying. They need to pound it down the wings, play it across the top of the box and play in Sunderland's defensive third.
If they start out with a high tempo in the first 25 minutes, then they will ruin any sort of momentum Sunderland were hoping to carry into the match.
But they shouldn't stop there. They need to be efficient in their play as well. They need to play smart passes and always be looking for the open space.
As any professional team should be.
Van Persie is going to need to be on his game, come Sunday.
Finishing, finishing, finishing.
If there's one thing that this Arsenal team cannot seem to do consistently, it's finish.
They can craft the most beautiful plays the soccer world has ever seen and then miss hitting it wide or sky it over the bar. It's one of the most frustrating parts of watching their play in the past few years.
Sure, I'll give it to them that they've had a few games that they are absolutely ruthless in front of goal (see: The first half of their 2010-2011 season). But, they never seem to be able to keep that eye in front of goal well and truly tuned right.
If Arsenal can come out of the gate flying and finish effectively, these Black Cats from Sunderland are going to be running out of the Emirates with their tails between their legs, hoping and wishing their next fixture goes better.
Arsene Wenger and his side have all the tools they need at their disposal. With a strong defense, playing through as an efficient midfield, some aggressive, yet efficient play and some helpful feet putting shots in the back of the net, Arsenal have no reason to not win this.
All they need is time to gel and get down to business. With these keys at their disposal, they really should be unstoppable come early Sunday morning.