Sunderland vs. Arsenal: Arsene Wenger's Key Pre-Match Press Conference QuotesOctober 28, 2016
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed he could be without key players Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal ahead of the Gunners' Saturday trip to Sunderland in the Premier League.
In-form Walcott and left-back Monreal have been ever-presents in Wenger's top-flight starting lineups so far in 2016-17, while playmaker Cazorla has missed just one Premier League game this season.
All three may have to be replaced, though, for the trip to the Black Cats, while striker Lucas Perez is set for a long spell on the sidelines, but Wenger also revealed Aaron Ramsey is nearing a return to first-team action, per the Daily Telegraph's Ben Rumsby:
Summer signing Perez picked up an ankle injury under a challenge from Danzell Gravenberch during Arsenal's 2-0 EFL Cup victory over Reading on Tuesday.
The Spaniard is now set to be absent for some key matches in the run-up to Christmas, and Wenger expressed his disappointment with how Perez suffered the knock, per Joe Mewis in the Mirror: "He’s absolutely gutted because it’s an injury coming from nowhere and a stupid one. It was a kick, a deliberate kick. It was not needed."
Even without some of their key stars, Arsenal will still be favourites to prevail against struggling Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
David Moyes' Black Cats are rock bottom of the Premier League having failed to win a single match so far this season, while the Gunners are tied on 20 points with leaders Manchester City after nine matches.
They have also not lost a match away from home in the Premier League since February, and Wenger explained the reasons for Arsenal's resilience on the road, per the Gunners' Twitter feed:
Last time out in the league, Arsenal's seven-game winning streak in all competitions came to an end as they drew 0-0 at home with Middlesbrough.
Their latest injury struggles are a blow ahead of the trip to the north-east, but Arsenal have more than enough depth to cover their absentees—striker Olivier Giroud is also available again, per Mewis.
Against a Sunderland side in woeful form, the Gunners should have little trouble picking up all three points and could move top of the table following the weekend's action if other results go their way.