Thursday, October 4, 2007

Arsenal vs. Sunderland: Match Preview

Match Review

Arsenal will look to extend their 9 game winning streak even further this Sunday as they take on newly-promoted Sunderland at the Emirates. Roy Keane's fifteenth place team will be lucky to get any points out of this game, and will likely play with many men behind the ball.

Arsenal's physio room had a nice day on Wednesday as nobody was injured in the 1-0 win over Steau Bucharest, and only the long term injury sufferers are still out. Alex Hleb and Emmanuel Eboue returned in the midweek, and Jens Lehmann, William Gallas, Tomas Rosicky, and Alex Song have all returned to training, although none of them are match-fit yet, and they are therefore unlikely to feature on Sunday. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has only one injured player this match. Eduardo, who is out with an ankle injury, would have been unlikely to feature anyways thanks to the fine form of Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie.

The back line will probably be the same that we have seen in the past few games, with Manuel Almunia in goal behind Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, Philippe Senderos, and Gael Clichy. I can't see our defenders having any real problems against Kenwyne Jones and Michael Chopra, although they will have to watch out for Sunderland's promising young attacking midfielder, Grant Leadbitter.

In the center of the field, Wenger will likely opt to play Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini in the central midfield positions, despite Gilberto fighting for a place. The in-form midfielders will probably be assisted by Alex Hleb, although the last spot is more contested. Wenger may choose Emmanuel Eboue as he did against Steaua Bucharest, but he might also opt to play Abou Diaby or Theo Walcott. Even against the likes of Leadbitter, I expect our midfield to boss around the Black Cats, and we are likely to see most of the possession.

Up front, Wenger will not want to tamper with his fine striking pair of Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie. The Togo and Netherlands internationals will be expected to find the back of the net in what may end up being a high scoring game for Arsenal.

I have been predicting high scorelines recently (and I was wrong about West Ham and Steaua) but I'm going to have to go high again and say that we will win this game 3-0. Down with Roy Keane, up with Arsenal!