Gunners go in search of win at the Stadium of Light today
Gunners go in search of win at the Stadium of Light today

Sunderland host Arsenal in the Premier League at the Stadium of Light today.

The Gunners have slipped back to fourth place in the table after Manchester City’s 4-0 win over Stoke City yesterday.

The Gunners though will be looking to build on their 2-0 win over West Brom at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.

A win will take them back into third place, two points ahead of City and would open a seven point gap to fifth placed Manchester United.

Whilst Sunderland go into the match in 18th place and in danger of being relegated to the Championship.

The Black Cats are in a three-way fight with Newcastle United and Norwich City to decide which two teams will join Aston Villa in being relegated.

Arsenal will be looking to continue their excellent recent record against Sunderland.

The Black Cats haven’t beaten the Gunners in 12 Premier League matches (L8 D4).

Arsenal are unbeaten in their last five Premier League trips to the Stadium of Light, winning the last four in a row (D1).

Indeed the Black Cats have scored just eight goals in their last 16 Premier League games against the Gunners.

Sunderland’s relegation worries are in the main down to their poor home form. The Black Cats have won just four of their last 17 Premier League matches at the Stadium of Light (W4 D6 L7).

It’s not surprising that Arsenal have dropped out of the title race when you look at their recent away record.  The Gunners have won just three of their last 11 Premier League away games (W3 D5 L3),  after winning 10 of the previous 12 (W10 D1 L1).

The Managers

Sam Allardyce lost just three of the first 11 Premier League meetings with Arsene Wenger (W3 D5 L3), but has lost 11 of the last 13 (W1 D1 L11).

Sam Allardyce

Allardyce recognises the importance of Jermain Defoe if his side are to avoid relegation.

“He knows how important he is to us. Sixteen goals is one of the reasons why we’re still in with a shout.

The reason we haven’t been in with a shout is because we have been conceding too many goals. He’s been our main deliverer.

He’s 33, but doesn’t drink, trains the right way, eats well, takes all the supplements, does all the right things. Because of that he’s a young, young 33.”

Allardyce says it is “sad” that Arsenal fans are demonstrating about Arsene Wenger.

“It is rather sad from my position. It is a fact of life that we are fast becoming like the continentals: Get a job, do a job, lose a job get another one. It is the way it is going. Sad isn’t it?

For someone like Arsene Wenger to stay as long as he has is a rarity you might not see again from a foreign coach.”

Arsene Wenger

“Top four is not Champions League. Top three, yes. That’s why it is important. What has changed is just because we want to play against the top teams and we want to be in the Champions League.

What has changed over the years is that the impact of the finances in the Champions League is not as big any more. For a period in the past the money was vital for us. But the sporting impact, the planning of the next season, of course it changes completely.

Especially when you have a big summer tournament like the Euros which is now like a World Cup because it starts on June 10 and finishes on the 10th of July. When you have to play Champions League qualifiers the European Championship is still going on.

You can play teams in the qualifiers who are in the middle of their championship because they have started already in June. But for us we don’t know where we finish. We are not guaranteed top four and we have to fight for that.

Man United is behind us and they will fight for it as well. We have difficult games and so do they.”

Key Men

Jermain Defoe has scored nine goals in his 14 Premier League appearances in 2016 so far.

Alexis Sanchez has scored or assisted nine goals in his past seven Premier League games.

Team News

Sunderland 

DeAndre Yedlin may return after missing training earlier in the week with an ankle problem.

Jack Rodwell is set to return following illness, but Jeremain Lens is a doubt with a virus.

Provisional squad: Mannone, Pickford, Van Aanholt, Yedlin, O’Shea, Jones, Kone, Kaboul, Brown, Kirchhoff, Cattermole, M’Vila, Khazri, Borini, Rodwell, Toivonen, Larsson, Defoe, N’Doye, Watmore.

Arsenal 

The Gunners have no fresh injury concerns after the win over West Brom on Thursday.

Jack Wilshere is pushing for a place in the squad for the first time this season after recovering from a broken fibula.

Santi Cazorla (Achilles) and Tomas Rosicky (thigh) are back in training but are not expected to feature, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) is out.

Provisional squad: Ospina, Cech, Monreal, Gibbs, Gabriel, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Bellerin, Ramsey, Elneny, Wilshere, Ozil, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi, Sanchez, Campbell, Walcott, Welbeck, Giroud.

Prediction

Arsenal to get another win 3-1.

The Gunners have enjoyed two 3-1 victories against Sunderland already this season, in the league and in the FA Cup. Both games saw Joel Campbell, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud net the Gunners’ goals.

Match Officials
Referee:
Mike Dean Assistants: S Long, M Salisbury Fourth Official: M Jones