By Bulldog Drummond
Laurent Koscielny has been ill. How dare he! Doesn’t he know that he’s got plenty of time in June for that?
Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy are not fit to work, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck remain injured.
For les chats presque noir (for thus is the name of those we play) Liam Bridcutt is out having been injured in the last game Jordi Gomez and Wes Brown are also injured but Jack Rodwell and Billy Jones are all perfectly tickety-boo.
Sunderland need one point from two games to ensure they will be in the top league next season but even defeats in both the games might not be a disaster since Hull and Newcastle both need to pick up points to go above them and force Sunderland down. So they will sit back, let us attack, and then wait for a chance on the counter or go for the goalless draw. They will have studied our last home match.
Arsenal need a point from the two games to come third. A defeat for Man C and two Arsenal wins would put us second, but that seems too much to ask for.
Herewith is the table, just in case you want to check the maths…
Mr Wenger said of the last home game, “The Swansea game was an accident. Having analysed it, it’s one of the games we deserved to win the most of all the games.
“I expect them [Sunderland] to be well organised defensively, sound at the back, and to try to use all the counter-attacks they can. We have to put a high rhythm into this game and play with a high level of energy to win.
“Sunderland, for a few years now, have struggled until five, six games before the end… [but] always they just find the final resources to get out of relegation.
“Advocaat has used his vast experience to give them confidence again, and to get them to play.”
Dick Advocaat said, “We have to make it as hard as possible defensively and be sharp. Maybe we can do something sneaky like we did at Everton. We will fight from the beginning to the end. Everybody is expecting us to lose and that makes it easier for us.”
So what else do we know?
Well, Sunderland have won one of their last 22 Premier League games against us, and none of the last 10 having lost seven of them. Indeed their last league win was when we played at the Manor Ground and Queen Victoria was on the throne…
[Hang on, that’s not right. It was at Highbury… If you look in the Anniversary Files it says… 5 November 1983: Tony Adams league début v Sunderland. (“Building of the Back Four“) Arsenal 1 Sunderland 2.- Tony]
But there is one thing that they does quite well and that is the goalless draw. Three of the last six games between the two sides at the Ems have been like this..
If we were to lose (heaven forbid) it would be the first two-in-a-row home games down the pan since 2011, when we lost the last game of one season and the first of the next.
But we ain’t doing much shooting these days (nothing on target in the first half of each of the last two.) Oh and here’s a goodie that is true, we are unbeaten in the last 17 league games played on a Wednesday.
As for Sunderland they’ve been doing quite well of late, winning three drawing two and losing one of the last… er… six. But they are the kings of the 0-0, having had eight of the buggers this year. And they have fewer shots on target than any other side in the country apart from the Toppled Bollard under nines.
And another jolly one: if Lee Cattermole gets a yellow he will be the first player to get 15 Premier League yellows in a season and will be banned for 27 years. [Errr…..] The Cat now shares the honoured position with Mark Hughes, Robbie Savage and Cheick Tioté. It must make him feel really good.
So is this the day of rotation? Maybe maybe, so we could have
Bellerin Mertesacker Gabriel Gibbs
Walcott Ozil Sanchez
Beached: Szczesny, Chambers, Monreal, Flamini, Rosicky, Santi Caz, Wilshere.
And if it gets a bit dull we can always make some comments about Jermain Defoe.
But in case you find any of the above a little negative don’t forget we are undefeated in 11 of the last 12 league games, and have scored at least two in the last three games against Sunderland. So life ain’t that bad.
Well Dick Advocaat and Mr Wenger don’t get on. There was an argument about the call of up Arshavin for Russia when Advocaat was running the show (and seemingly getting paid, which is something of a miracle) and Advocaat also tried to do a Mourinho (although not very well) saying Mr Wenger was “always moaning about something.”
Last bit. We might see our old boy Seb Larsson. He played three times for us in his early 20s between 2004 and 2007 before knocking up 184 league games with Birmingham, and 134 for Sunderland. Be nice to give him a kind welcome.