Friday, 4 December 2015

Arsenal v Sunderland Preview

Things haven't being going too well in the league for Arsenal recently with only two points from their last three games. The fact they're only two points off the leaders isn't so bad, but the points dropped in those last three games were an opportunity lost. They could and probably should have won all three games and they could find themselves five points clear at the top of the table if they had done so.

However, there's no point in dwelling on the past and the players have to look at the points they can still win rather than rue the ones they have lost. They can't keep passing up opportunities to beat teams in the lower reaches of the league and tomorrow's game presents another opportunity to do so. Sunderland have just climbed out of the relegation zone after winning their last two games, but they still have to be seen as one of the easier games for Arsenal this season.

The injury situation has only got worse since this time last week with both Santi Cazorla and Alexis definitely out of tomorrow's game after picking up injuries last Saturday at West Brom. Alexis could be back in a few weeks, but Cazorla is out until March at least and his absence is another huge blow to the team. He had formed a very effective partnership with Francis Coquelin in the engine room of the team and both of them will now be missing until well into the new year.

For me the only fit player who can play in that position in Cazorla's absence is Aaron Ramsey and it will give him an opportunity to play in his favoured position. He'll play alongside Mathieu Flamini and hopefully they can form an effective partnership over the next few months and both stay fit too. We just can't afford any more injuries in midfield (or attack for that matter) and we have to hope Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Risicky can all return as soon as possible.

Pinning our hopes on any or all of those three staying fit is a push though and Arsene Wenger really has to add to his options when the transfer window opens. It's not easy to prise players away from their clubs half way through the season and the better players are rarely available. The boss has to do all he can to bring someone in though and we have to hope the players we have can keep us competitive until then.

The results in the last three league games have given this game more importance and it's one the team quite simply have to win. I just hope the players haven't got their minds on the all important Champions League group decider away to Olympiacos on Wednesday night. They have a huge task in that game needing a two goal win with so many players unavailable, but they can't let it affect how they perform against Sunderland.

On the good news front Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott all have a chance of playing tomorrow and hopefully they will give the boss more options. I would like to see Walcott come on at some stage which would mean he might just be available from the start on Wednesday night. As well as Giroud has done in his absence Walcott's pace gives Arsenal an option Giroud just cannot offer.

The boss doesn't have too many choices in his team selection, but he surely has to play the strongest team possible. The team need to get back to winning ways and they can't leave anything on the pitch for Wednesday night. Despite Sunderland's recent upturn in form they have a pretty poor away record this season and Arsenal need to add to that record.

I know the last three league games have not been good and the players are suffering from a lack of rotation due to all the injuries. At least they had no midweek game this week and it will hopefully have given them a chance to recharge their batteries. Let's just hope they have done just that and a good win against Sunderland will send them to Greece on Wednesday night in high spirits and full of confidence.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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