Arsene Wenger is desperate for his Arsenal players to keep their foot down and finish the season strongly, with two home Premier League games left before that crucial chance of another trophy with another Wembley FA cup final. So the Frenchman will be asking for application, focus and nothing less than a win against Sunderland tonight.
Along with an in form Arsenal and our fantastic home record, Dick Advocaat has a few injury problems to deal with as well. Right back Jones has joined defensive colleague Wes Brown on the sidelines and their midfield is looking a bit thin as well, with Rodwell, Gomez and Alvarez out of action so you would expect them top struggle against our fluent and dangerous attack.
Expect them to sit deep and try to counter even though their front three of Defoe, Graham and Wickham are not the quickest. But the crux of the game is likely to be whether, and how soon, the Gunners can break down a determined and organised defence.
After his superb game at Old Trafford, Aaron Ramsey must surely return to his favoured role in the middle and that gives Wenger the decisions of who to play in the CAM role and on the right. For me it would be Cazorla behind Giroud and Walcott on the right although Wilshere would be more in keeping with our recent shape.
I can see Jack coming on in the second half, especially if we are struggling to break through. I also think the attacking instincts and pace of Kieran Gibbs could be a plus point with Sunderland having to find someone to fill in at right back.
Koscielny has had a spot of flu so we should get another chance to see the January signing Gabriel at the heart of the Arsenal defence.
I really cannot see Sunderland scoring or anything other than a win for the Gunners and I am going for 3-0. COYG