Saturday, 5 March 2011

Arsenal v Sunderland - probable line-up and match preview

Fixtures are coming thick and fast at the moment. I worked out that if we play all the possible fixtures we could possibly playbetween now and the end of the season (including a replay against ManUre in the FA Cup and getting to the FA Cup and Champions League finals) we would be playing twice a week every week for the whole of the rest of the season without break.

Despite the upcoming match against Barcelona on Tuesday however, I expect Arsene Wenger to name a strong team against Sunderland. Song, Fabregas, Walcott and van Persie are all out as well as long-term absentees Fabianski and Vermaelen. I'm a lot less worried about Song being out if Diaby is playing in his place than if Denilson is in the team, so hopefully that will be the case today.

Arsene Wenger's most difficult selection decision will be whether to play Nasri on the right and Rosicky in the Fabregas role or play Rosicky in the Fab role and Nasri on the right. I think he will go with the former, but it's a close call. I changed ny mind several times while writing this article. Anyway, we shall see. The good news though is that (like Arshavin) Rosicky, Bendtner and Chamakh seem to be coming back to form as the season reaches the critical squeeky-bum time. Hell, even the Spanish waiter had a good game on Wednesday.

The other good news is that Aaron Ramsey is in the Arsenal squad for the first time since he had his leg broken by Shawcross over a year ago. He is sure to get a great reception if he comes on.

I'm quietly confident ahead of the match. I don't think it will be easy, but if we can't beat Sunderland on our own ground then we don't deserve to win the league. Then again, the same could be said of West Brom.

You're probably sick of hearing it by now, but if we win we will go within a point of ManUre after their defeat at Chelsea (ha, ha). Come on Arsenal!

Incidentally, the tactics board above is a photo of Arsene Wenger's actual tactics board in the home dressing room from when I went on the stadium tour a couple of years ago. I can thoroughly recommend it if you haven't been on it yet.

Probable Arsenal line-up:


Sagna Djourou Koscielny Clichy

              Diaby Wilshere

     Bendtner Nasri Arshavin


Subs: Almunia, Squillaci, Eboue, Gibbs, Denilson, Ramsey, Rosicky

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