We travel to the Stadium of Light tomorrow to take on Sunderland, in what could be a huge game for both sides.
The Black Cats are scrapping for their Premier League life at present, with two of Norwich, Newcastle and Sunderland expected to drop down into the Championship. There is only two points separating the trio, although our weekend’s opponents have played a game less.
Sunderland won 3-0 last weekend away to fellow relegation-threatened Norwich City, in what was a must-win game, and they will be keen to replicate that performance this weekend at home, and their manager has already confirmed he will be setting his team up in the same way.
The home side will be built to counter attack according to Sam Allardyce, in hope of picking holes in our defence, and we will have to be wary of their in-form striker Jermaine Defoe, although he does not have a great record against us. The 33 year-old has scored in two of his 20 Premier League matches against us, but comes into the match with three in his last 5 outings.
I expect the majority of our starting line-up from last weekend’s match against Crystal Palace to start, without Gabriel who has been criticised for his appearances of late.
We made a number of changes to play in midweek, with Arsene Wenger attempting to keep his players fresh having to play on Thursday quickly followed by tomorrow’s match, and it makes it difficult to get his thinking spot-on, especially without knowing the fitness levels of players following the midweek match.
I expect Ramsey to retain his place in the starting XI from Thursday, with Francis Coquelin and Welbeck highly likely to return to the side having been rested against West Brom. It is difficult to predict any of trio Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez or Alex Iwobi to be left out, but I assume the latter could be given a break.
Bellerin Mertesacker Koscielny Monreal
Sanchez Ozil Ramsey