Sunderland v Arsenal Preview and Analysis
Of all the three teams locked on 20 points each at the top three of the Premier League table, Arsenal (currently 2nd) would fancy their chances to move to the top after their weekend clash with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Just a goal difference of one separates them from League leaders Manchester City. But for a tough goalless draw against relegation candidate, Middlesborough, the Gunners would have felt fully confident of running roughshod over bottom-scrapers, Sunderland, going into the October 29 clash.
The Boro brought to a grinding halt a phenomenal six-match winning streak for the Gunners last weekend.
For David Moyes, it's been like reliving his dark days with Manchester United. Sunderland just don't seem to be moving up from the bottom of the table and have yet to win a Premier League fixture after 9 games. The only player of note has been ex-England international striker Jermain Defoe who has scored four of Sunderland's measly tally of six goals.
Despite an attack in full form, there are concerns for Arsene Wenger in the midfield. The brilliant but semi-injured Santi Cazorla could be a doubtful starter and Granit Xhaka is out on suspension after being red-carded against Middlesborough. Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny could probably make it to the starting XI in place of these two at the Stadium of Light.
Wenger will probably stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation that has found so much success for the Gunners. Olivier Giroud is likely to be on the sidelines given the tremendous combination of Sanchez, Walcott and Ozil being cemented for the Gunners. However if things are going well for the Gunners on Saturday, the veteran French striker may be given some playing time later on during the match.
Considering Sunderland's not so high standard over the years, it's remarkable that they have missed out in only 2 Premier League seasons since 1999/2000.
Team Head to Head Stats
Of the 30 EPL meetings between these two since then, Sunderland have won just twice. The last win for the Black Cats was during the 2009/10 season when they won 1-0 at the Stadium of Light itself.
Victory for the home side on Saturday would be a miracle of sorts. Bookmakers have lost no sweat in wagering on a Arsenal win.