Gus Poyet called it “my most embarrassing moment both as a player or manager.”
Were Southampton really eight goals better than their opponents last time out? No, they were not. Better yes, but what will disappoint Poyet is the manner of the collapse.
Players going missing, not trying, and making errors so bad that even a schoolboy would be embarrassed.
Only two narrow losses before the Southampton debacle doesn’t speak of a side that should be humbled so comprehensively, and with that in mind, Poyet can at least work with what he has. After reading the riot act of course.
Arsene Wenger certainly won’t relish taking his side to the Stadium of Light despite an enviable record in this fixture.
Injuries have played a large part in the Gunners’ patchy form but five draws, two losses and only one win since the opening day is not good enough for a club of this stature.
Joint tenth (seventh by virtue of superior goal difference) at this stage of the season will hurt, as will a yawning chasm of an 11 point gap to neighbours Chelsea at the summit.
Wenger admitted after the disappointing home draw to Hull that his side has conceded too many goals this term from defensive mistakes, therefore the proposed return of Laurent Koscielny to partner Per Mertesacker at the heart of the back line will come as a welcome relief.
Gus Poyet has four players unavailable for selection through injury, none of whom will return in time for the visit of the Arsenal.
Will the Uruguayan will make wholesale changes otherwise? Unlikely, but not totally out of the question either. After he accused some of his players of giving up at Southampton, it might be the perfect time to wield the axe.
Vito Mannone will play against his former employers hoping that his error-strewn performance against Southampton isn’t repeated.
The Gunners have an extensive injury list as they make the long trek to the north east. Of those seven sidelined, only Laurent Koscielny has an outside chance of making the matchday squad, but a late fitness test may be required to ensure that he has recovered fully from calf injury.
It will be December at least before the likes of Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil and Wilshere get anywhere close to full fitness per Physio Room, so Arsene Wenger needs to wrap his squad in cotton wool whilst ensuring they remain competitive.
Sunderland: Mannone, Vergini, O’Shea, Brown, Aanholt, Cattermole, Wickham, Gomez, Larsson, Buckley, Fletcher.Arsenal: Szczesny, Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Bellerin, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez, Cazorla, Ramsey, Welbeck.
- Sunderland have only beaten Arsenal once (Nov 2009) in the last 10 years in the Premier League, and once (Feb 2012) in the FA Cup.
- Since 2005, in all competitions spanning 18 matches, Arsenal have only been behind once at half time.
- Sunderland’s 6-0 victory over Arsenal in January 1893 remains one of their heaviest ever defeats.
- Arsenal’s record home crowd (at Highbury) was against Sunderland on March 9, 1935.
Previous Head to Heads
22/02/14 Arsenal 4-1 Sunderland
14/09/13 Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal
09/02/13 Sunderland 0-1 Arsenal
18/08/12 Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland
11/02/12 Sunderland 1-2 Arsenal
16/10/11 Arsenal 2-1 Sunderland
Sunderland: John O’Shea
There’s no substitute for experience and O’Shea has it in spades. He’ll need to draw on all of those reserves to inspire a group of players to get straight back out of the doldrums.
One thing is for sure, John O’Shea doesn’t hide. When the going gets tough, the Irishman gets going. Arsenal beware.
Arsenal: Alexis Sanchez
With five goals, two assists and two man-of-the-match awards in the last eight games, Alexis Sanchez has already gone some way to justifying Arsenal’s summer spend.The Chilean was noted for his industry and work-rate at Barcelona, and showcased the same to a worldwide audience at the World Cup in Brazil.After a relatively slow start in north London, Sanchez’s power and pace allied to his notable skill set has set supporter pulses racing.A burgeoning relationship with Danny Welbeck is also bearing fruit and with other star names dropping like flies, Arsene Wenger very definitely needs his new talisman to remain injury free as he seeks to climb back up the Premier League table.
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There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the manner of Sunderland’s defeat of Southampton will have dented confidence around the club.Gus Poyet has a huge task on his hands in being able to rally the troops for the visit of Arsene Wenger’s under-performing side, but with the right application, it’s certainly a game the Black Cats can win. Hull for example were desperately unlucky to only leave the Emirates Stadium with a point last weekend.With only two wins all season – the worst out of the top ten teams – and an ever-growing injury list, the Gunners have work to do to convince the fan base that this will not peter out into another disappointing campaign.