by Bulldog Drummond
The first bread slicing and wrapping machine in Britain was installed in the Wonderloaf Bakery in White Hart Lane, right on the boundary of Tottenham and Wood Green, in 1937 and was used to create the Wonderloaf. It was a white sliced loaf with all the natural goodness removed to produce something incredibly bland and quite extraordinarily unappealing.
I suppose I thought of it in relation to the Sunderland game not just because both Sunderland and Wonderloaf have the syllable “der” in the middle with a word either side. For although technically “Sund” isn’t a word we use much in English it was an Old Norse word meaning swimming – also meaning the sea. Besides Sunderlands style of play seems to be football with all the goodness taken out of it and replaced by something rather stodgy, especially when wet.
Thus it is fair to say that Wonderloaf have scored six goals this season and created 58 chances (as opposed to Arsenal’s 19 goals and 94 chances). The top assists player is Duncan Watmore with one assist.
The Telegraph has helpfully produced a calendar year chart for the teams which shows that Sunderland have played 28, won 6, drawn 11, and lost 11, while Arsenal during the same period have won 14, drawn 10 and lost 4. So we are ahead on the year 52 points to 29.
Thus we might ask, where could it go wrong for Arsenal? Well, anywhere, because of the referee obviously, and also because we might well not have Santi Cazorla who is our player with the highest pass accuracy (91%, with 495 completed passes – the highest number of anyone in the team.)
Oh, and just in case you are wondering Alexis Sánchez has the highest goal scoring chances created number – 19. In relation to which Mr Wenger came up with a nice turn of phrase: “When Sánchez comes, Walcott goes.” A rather neat and concise description I thought.
Speaking further on the topic, Mr W said, “We would want him to have a better balance, but we do not want to forbid him to come to the ball, but to get in a few more off the ball runs. But that’s why when we have Theo Walcott it balances well. This is a good mixture, a good working unit.”
Which I guess can only be disturbed by the disruption to the squad. Granit Xhaka serves the last of his three-match suspension here. Santi Cazorla had his Achilles done and may not make it. Theo is a doubt also – with a hamstring problem – and Lucas Perez is out for six weeks with ankle ligament damage sustained after an appalling deliberate kick in the game against the Spectacles. There is also doubt about Nacho Monreal.
Carl Jenkinson however is back and playing and Aaron Ramsey is in the squad.
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Since there is no way of knowing just how bad some of the injuries is, picking the team is a guess, but then, it often is and that doesn’t normally stop us so it is the normal 4-2-3-1…
Iwobi Ozil Oxlade-Chamberlain
Gibbs Koscielny Mustafi Coquelin
Now the beach at Sunderland is not necessarily the best place to be but seven jolly chaps do have to be there for the duration. However given the possible (or not) injuries it is a bit tough to decide who. Maybe some or any of these… (in a worst case scenario of all of the doubtful playersbeing out completely)…
Ospina, Jenkinson, Gabriel, Holding, Ramsey, Reine-Adélaïde, Giroud
As for the Wonderloaf, they have made the worst start to a season in the Premier League since Sheffield Thursday who in 1999 managed one point by this stage of the proceedings. But before we feel too sorry for Wonderloaf, we have to remember that they chose to make The Rather Large Sam Allardyce their manager. Any club that does that deserves all they get.
Louise Taylor in the Guardian however is not convinced by the demise of the White Bread Boys saying, “a crowd well in excess of 45,000 is expected to turn up to see him try. Its collective mood could prove influential.” (More on the Guardian in a mo – their view of the referee is something to behold…)
So to the stats and things…
Sunderland have lost five of their last six games in the Premier League, and Arsenal have won all three of their last away games – in fact as we saw in the tactics preview Arsenal are top of the away games league having won the last three.
What the table doesn’t fully show is that Arsenal are undefeated in the last nine games with Sunderland in all competitions excluding the white bread bake off which Sunderland won. But they have lost seven of their nine games this season.
However the last game between Wonderloaf and Arsenal ended 0-0, although Arsenal haven’t failed to score in two successive games since last February. In fact it was a three match run against Stoke, Chelsea and Southampton.
On the other hand Arsenal twice scored three goals at home against Sunderland last season (once in the league and once in the FA Cup). The goalscorers were identical (Joel Campbell, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey).
The Wonderloaf however have player issues too, and will make late decisions on Adnan Januzaj and Jason Denayer. Sebastian Larsson, Vito Mannone (both ex Arsenal), Fabio Borini and Jan Kirchhoff are out, while Lee Cattermole is uncertain like their attack.
So what does the Wonderloaf manager, a Mr David (“the jury is still out on Ozil”) Moyes say? He speaketh thus: “Our confidence is good and the players know they are doing better. The results haven’t shown that but the last two results could have been different. We want the fans in full voice but what we do on the pitch will determine that so we need to get them off their seats.”
Moving on to the stats…
Sunderland have won just one of their last 25 Premier League games against Arsenal and…
- Arsenal are unbeaten in 13 league matches against Sunderland (W8, D5) and have won on four of their last five league trips to the Stadium of Light.
- David Moyes has lost 14 Premier League games against Arsene Wenger.
- Jack Rodwell hasn’t won any of the last 34 Premier League games he’s started, the longest run ever by a Premier League player. That includes all 32 of his league starts for Sunderland.
- Jermain Defoe has faced Arsenal 21 times in the Premier League but has only scored twice – once for West Ham in January 2003 and again for Tottenham in November 2004.
- Arsenal have only lost one Premier League away game in 2016 (3-2 at Very Old Trafford in February).
The WhoScored votes for the score all show an away win, with 1-3 being the most popular score followed by 1-2, 0-1, 0-2, and 0-3.
And finally here is the promised Guardian coverage of the referee for today
- Referee A Name
- This season Games 0, Yellow cards 00, Red cards 0
- 0.0 cards per game
“That,” as they say before each match at the Ems, “sums it all up”.
PS: It’s Robert Pirès birthday one of eleven Arsenal anniversaries celebrated today on the home page of the site. This comes from our daily anniversaries file…
Robert had a Portuguese father and Spanish mother and found learning both French and English difficult. After he had left Arsenal to play for Villareal he did an interview in fluent Spanish and the UK journalists, having not done their homework and not realising Spanish was one of his native tongues berated him for not having bothered to learn English properly. He scored a hat trick in the first game of the “49”.
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