On December fifth, Arsenal will welcome relegation battling Sunderland to the Emirates as they look to turn their recent form around. With five points dropped in two matches away to Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion, the Gunners are in a bit of a blip that they need to make sure doesn’t go any further. If they want to seriously compete for the title, they need to be winning games like Sunderland at home. Sunderland have actually put some decent form together. After no wins in their first nine matches, they have three wins in their last five and have won their last two matches. With all of Arsenal’s injuries and Sunderland’s good form, this could turn out to be a much more competitive game than expected. If you’re looking to wager a bet on this fixture check out EPL Betting Previews!
Arsenal nearly have enough players injured to make a separate injury eleven. Arsene Wenger has taken a lot of criticism for how he handles his players this week and how many have picked up injuries. Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs look like they’ll be fit enough to play at the weekend. Both Mikel Arteta and Theo Walcott are rumored to be fit for the squad, but it would be a shock if either started. Star man Alexis Sanchez is out for a little less than a month with a hamstring injury. Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, and Tomas Rosicky are all out with long term injuries.
Sunderland do not have as many injury problems as the Gunners, but they will be missing some key players. Goal scorer Jermaine Defoe will miss out after picking up a hamstring injury. Former Arsenal academy player Sebastian Larsson is out with a knee injury and Jack Rodwell is out with a knock.
- Arsenal have scored only eight goals in six home matches this season, but they’ll be facing the joint worst away defensive record in Sunderland.
- Two of the last three times Sunderland have traveled to the Emirates they’ve been able to get a 0-0 draw.
- The Black Cats have only beaten the Gunners once in their last 19 league meetings.
- Sunderland will be without Jermaine Defoe, who has score 25% of the teams goals this season.
- Sunderland will look to take advantage of Arsenal’s weakness from set pieces.
- Four of the 12 goals (25%) Arsenal have conceded in the league this season have been from set pieces.
Arsenal: Mesut Ozil
The German superstar is one of the few players left fit for Arsenal. As his teammates continue to go down with injuries, Ozil has carried his team. In his last eight Premier League matches, the German has scored two goals and picked up nine assists. He has assisted more goals in his last six Premier League matches than anyone else has in the whole season. Ozil has been setting the league alight and is arguably the most in-form player in the league. If his form continues, he gives Arsenal a chance of surviving their latest injury crisis.
Sunderland: Steven Fletcher
With Jermain Defoe injured, Steven Fletcher has to step up and put in a big performance. Those two are the only two players at Sunderland to score more than two league goals this season. They’ve combined for 50% of the Black Cats’ goals. Against a team like Arsenal, who have the second best home defensive record in the league, there won’t be too many chances for the away side, so the Fletcher will have to take his chances when they fall to him. Sam Allardyce doesn’t have a great record against Arsene Wenger, but expressed how much joy he takes in beating the French manager in his autobiography. If he has a chance at beating him again, he’ll need his Scottish striker to be on form.
This is a game Arsenal have to win. After the poor results away at the Hawthorns and at Carrow Road, they need a win in the worst way here. Considering how desperate they are and the talent gap, they’ll probably get it. Sunderland have been better since Big Sam came in, but beating Arsenal might be a bridge too far.
Prediction: 2-1 Arsenal