Sunderland v Arsenal
by Bulldog Drummond
So, what do Sunderland do after letting in eight and giving the away fans a refund? Pull back in defence and follow the Hull style of time wasting I would imagine. In which case I wonder if the Sunderland supporters will follow Hull fans by arguing that slowing down the game by wasting time is legal, and anyway “don’t tell me Arsenal have never done that”.
The commentaries that were written re Hull were interesting in that there did seem to be so many people who couldn’t see the difference between legal and illegal time wasting. Or who felt that it was somehow either clever or original or insightful to hurl abuse at the site.
But of course other clubs have supporters who hate their own team, manager, owners etc, and Sunderland are up there with the best of them, with whippings, brain surgery and electrotherapy being recommended in one quarter for the employees of the club. Forgetting perhaps the feats of Mannone against Man U last season.
And that’s the trouble with the ranting form of anti-support. It has no historical perspective. Speaking of which there was an interesting piece on the Arsenal History Society site this week quoting the Arsenal programme as suggesting that Arsenal faced on that day “Injury problems as great as those ever faced by an Arsenal manager.”
The date was 28 February 1959.
Anyway at Sunderland all eyes will be on the home side, and not Arsenal, for once, although there will be a lot of looking to see which newspaper is correct about the whereabouts of Theo.
But as for Sunderland I don’t think anyone knows what team they will put out. Blame one or two and drop them? Scrap the lot? Let them all atone? Who knows. The one problem they do have is a very small squad, so the chance of rotation is limited.
250 year old [I think he’s 34 – Tony] full-back Anthony Reveillere joined Sunderland as a free agent this week and could play. Sebastian Coates, Billy Jones, Emanuele Giaccherini and Ricky Alvarez are injured.
For us the obvious team news is that Jack is suspended and Wojciech Szczesny returns from his one match Euro ban with Martinez on the beach.
Missing is probably Theo, although they might allow him to sit on the luxury chairs but with no chance of coming on. The Telegraph has him “in the squad”. The line is that Theo was training so well he might be tempted for this game. Although he could have another game against Stoke in the under 21 league – but that sounds dangerous to me. Meanwhile as Dr Billy pointed out Laurent Koscielny has to let his Achilles take its time, The long termers are out: Ozil, Ospina, Giroud and Debuchy
There is one lovely line in Wenger’s media interviews though about Theo. “It takes time to settle and to get used to being kicked again. I am not sure to involve him tomorrow. He needs a game to feel completely confident but he is not far. Fitness-wise he is there to take part in a game, but on the contact front he needs a bit more time.”
“He is a very polite and social guy but behind that he is mentally very strong and what he has gone through in the last nine months…you gain even more respect for him because he has had some difficult times but always responded very positively, He has a young baby, there were some problems after… but he has done extremely well.”
Per Mertesacker will of course play presumably alongside Nacho Monreal
So maybe we have this…
Chambers, Monreal, Mertesacker, Gibbs;
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sánchez, Cazorla;
On the beach…
Martínez, Podolski, Rosicky, Bellerin, Coquelin, Flamini, Campbell, Zelalem, Hayden, Gnabry, (Theo?)
Arsenal have not lost in the last nine games against Sunderland in the League and have won the last three at the so-called “Stadium of Light” The last time Sunderland beat Arsenal, and it was their only win in the last 21, was in November 2009. They won 1-0. In the last 26 league games against Arsenal they have scored two first half goals and even then weren’t in the lead at half time. Overall Sunderland are very good at own goals, 16 since August 2010.
On the plus side Sunderland are unbeaten at home in the league so far. One win and three draws and despite last week are doing far better than last season at this stage.
And if Alex Ox plays it will be his 100th game.