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Arsenal vs. Sunderland : a look at the gallery of rogues Steve Bruce has thrown together this year

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The Christmas gift for the fan with (almost) everything

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By Phil Gregory

After what seems like an age, our beloved Arsenal are back after the international break. Sunderland are of course the side facing us at the Emirates and are a side who have started the season poorly after throwing a lot of money around over the summer. As ever, Steve Bruce is yet to grasp the concept of “building” a team and seems to think that more signings equates to better, despite the evidence given by Sunderland themselves under both him and Roy Keane in recent times.

Managers such as David Moyes must look at such largesse with wonderment given the limited funds the Scot had to work with this summer. It is fair enough to say that on average, football chairmen don’t give managers enough backing but in some cases, they seem to give them too much time despite evidence some of them really are without a clue. Sunderland’s owners would be some that I’d level that charge at: Steve Bruce did some good work at Wigan and Birmingham but doesn’t seem to know what to do when given a lot of money.

That however, isn’t our problem and so we face off against a much-changed Sunderland side still finding its feet. A Sunderland that, it should be mentioned is spearheaded this season by our very own Nicklas Bendtner (though he won’t be playing against us). He’s very much a “marmite” sort of player (you either love him or you hate him) and he has been talking as if he is absolutely, one hundred percent off this summer. Wenger however sounded a note of caution, and rightly so. Whilst Robin Van Persie has two years remaining on his deal (you won’t get any doom mongering from me, thank you) were he to decide against signing and was to be sold next summer, someone such as Bendtner could well find a role in the Arsenal squad opening up. Now admittedly Bendtner is no Van Persie, but if we set aside our biases the Dane has done well whenever he has had a decent run in the side (second half of 09-10 comes to mind, and then he was playing with an injury too).

Anyway, onto this game. Hopefully our results and luck will fall a little more positively, with home comforts for the next two Premier League games offering a realistic opportunity for back to back wins.  Both are winnable ties despite Stoke’s good start to the season, and a good pair of results would allow us to move onwards and upwards in the table.

Despite four players still our after various procedures (Sagna, Wilshere, Vermaelen and Diaby)  we actually have a fairly strong squad available when you think who’s forced to sit out on the bench. Certainly going forward, I’d expect the likes of Rosicky, Arshavin and Chamakh to be on the bench, it’s only in defence where we’re a little more stretched.

Perhaps Vermaelen’s return would allow us more options at right back in place of Jenkinson, with Koscielny saying he is happy to play there. Whilst that is an option that we may see at some stage (Wenger has said that Jenkinson will not play every game due the sheer intensity of the Premier League), it seems we’ll see Jenkinson deputising for Sagna for now. The youngster has had a bit of a baptism of fire in his Arsenal career and whilst he hasn’t always played a perfect game, to put someone else in instead of him would undermine his confidence. If he’s the back up right back, he should play when Sagna is injured – it’s certainly the best way for him to develop and push on.

Szcznesy

Jenkinson Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs/Santos

Song Arteta

Ramsey

Walcott Van Persie Gervinho

It’s a fairly easy team to predict, with the injury situation fairly clear. The only doubt is around who will slot in at leftback, with the choice between Santos and Gibbs.  There’s certainly enough in that squad to beat Sunderland and move up the table, and the fairly imminent returns of Vermaelen and Diaby will only strengthen the back line and midfield options.

Despite a disappointing result against Tottenham I expect us to get a win here, whether it will be relatively comfortable or not we’ll have to see. 2-0 to the Arsenal is what I’m hoping for.

Ref Watch for this game is here

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7 comments to Arsenal vs. Sunderland : a look at the gallery of rogues Steve Bruce has thrown together this year

  • Waleed

    Steve Bruce doesn’t know how to build a top team. He focuses too much on defending. Anyone can defend, what makes a team good is how much better they are at attacking. They need to invest in some offensive talent and play more positive football.

  • John L

    anyone can defend? we seem to have had a few problems….

  • John L

    im hoping for two or three goals from arsenal, and would love a clean sheet but can see sunderland getting one. steve bruce might not use his money sensibly, but he is capable of making a team hard to beat with just enough quality to bite you if you fall asleep. so i dont expect a walkabout. arsenal will need to be up for it.

    i am really hoping to see AOC, ryo and park. park might not be back from internationals in time. but these are exciting players for us and it would be nice to see more of them. also coquelin and frimpong have been exciting so would like to see them as well.

    excited for this one, hope springs eternal.

  • I think AOC is only on stand by. The problem with a young player that hits the headlines is that after knocking in all the goals and getting the headlines he can suddenly just go limp, and have no idea how to get his form back.

    Better to take him a little more slowly, rather than risk a great rise and then a total collapse, I’d say.

    I’d sooner have him in and out of the squad – but I would agree, with Ryo, I do hope we see him soon.

  • nicky

    The problem Arsene Wenger has this season, after such a dodgy start, is he cannot afford to throw in guys like AOC, Ryo or Park in a “bravado-like” move, for fear of a meltdown scenario. The lads are not quite back to an acceptable level of confidence.
    So the plan will be a “softly softly” approach, with our budding starlets being introduced at Carling level or in EPL games where the opposition are noted for playing football rather than clogging.
    We fans, keen to see our exciting new blood in action will simply have to be patient a bit longer. It’s hard but……

  • walter

    Well done to the lads. Good start then the ever returning bad spell around the half hour mark. A wonderful free kick goal against us. How is this possible?

    But then a great pressures during the second half. They never gave up and kept on fighting till the end. Finally RVP with a free kick goal.

    Good fighting game and we sure should try to kill the opposition earlier.

  • RedGooner

    Hard to watch comes to mind. Delighted with the 3 points but how much do we need Robin to stay fit and perhaps stay with the club for the remainder of his career.