Sunderland v Arsenal: Premier League Match Preview
Sunderland host Arsenal in the Premier League at the Stadium of Light this afternoon (12.30pm kick off UK time).
The Black Cats are at the bottom of the Premier League table and still looking for their first league win of the season.
The pressure on manager David Moyes is mounting after his appointment to replace Sam Allardyce in the Sunderland hot-seat in July.
Sunderland’s total of two points from nine games is the worst start to a Premier League season since Sheffield Wednesday in 1999-2000 (one point from nine matches).
Moyes has also been charged with misconduct after being sent off at St Mary’s on Wednesday in the Black Cats EFL Cup defeat to Southampton.
The Football Association said it is alleged “Moyes used abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official”.
The incident occurred in the 90th minute, after referee Chris Kavanagh waved away appeals for a foul on Sunderland striker Victor Anichebe in the penalty area.
Arsenal go into the weekend round of fixtures in second place in the Premier League table, trailing leaders Manchester City on goal difference.
The Gunners will be looking to get back to winning ways in the Premier League after the goalless draw with Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium last Saturday.
The last time the Gunners failed to score in back-to-back Premier League games was during a three-match run in January-February this year (against Stoke, Chelsea and Southampton)
Arsenal are on an 8 eight match unbeaten run in the Premier League since the opening fixture home defeat to Liverpool.
The Gunners are unbeaten on the road in the Premier League since February (a 3-2 defeat against Manchester United), and are one of two unbeaten Premier League sides away from home this season – the other being Tottenham Hotspur.
The Black Cats proved stubborn opponents at the Stadium of Light last season though, with Sam Allardyce’s side holding Arsenal to a 0-0 draw.
A similar result today or a defeat, a week after being held goalless by Middlesbrough, would raise doubts over Arsenal’s title ambitions.
Sunderland have won only one of their last 25 Premier League matches against Arsenal (D9 L15).
Arsenal are unbeaten in 13 top-flight matches against Sunderland (W8, D5) and have won on four of their last five league trips to the Stadium of Light.
The Gunners have conceded only eight times in 15 visits to Sunderland in the Premier League.
Jermain Defoe is the Black Cats main goal threat. He has faced Arsenal 21 times in the Premier League but has only scored twice – once for West Ham in January 2003 and one for Tottenham Hotspur in November 2004.
Arsenal will hope that Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil can put their off today against Middlesbrough last Saturday behind them. The return of Olivier Giroud could also be timely. He has scored five times and assisted two goals in his last six Premier matches against Sunderland in all competitions.
David Moyes has lost 14 Premier League games against Arsene Wenger – the only manager he’s lost to as often is Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Our confidence is good and the players know they are doing better.
The results haven’t shown that but the last two results could have been different.
We want the fans in full voice but what we do on the pitch will determine that so we need to get them off their seats.”
“The pressure is on every week on everybody. It is very tight at the top so every game of course becomes important.
We have a good solidarity when we play away from home and we have a full desire to win the game, said the Frenchman. “We have also improved our defensive quality but it will be a tricky game tomorrow.
David Moyes is an experienced manager who has 15 seasons in the Premier League. They’ll look to defend very well and to catch us on the break.
Their main danger is [Jermain] Defoe, and they are good on set-pieces with [Wahbi] Khazri. They are dangerous on set-pieces.
Overall they are a team who is in a bad position but it’s very tight at the top and very tight at the bottom.”
Adnan Januzaj (ankle) and Jason Denayer (thigh) face late fitness tests.
Sebastian Larsson, Vito Mannone, Fabio Borini and Jan Kirchhoff are sidelined, while Lee Cattermole (back) is a doubt.
Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey are both fit to return to the squad. Giroud was a second half substitute in the EFL Cup win over Reading on Tuesday. Ramsey hasn’t played since being injured in the opening fixture home defeat to Liverpool.
Santi Cazorla is a doubt. He has missed the matches with Middlesbrough and Reading with the knock picked up in the Champions League win over Ludogorets. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Arsenal have won 65.5% of the Premier League matches in which Santi Cazorla has started (36 out of 55), compared with 40% when he has not (12 out of 30)
Nacho Monreal and Theo Walcott also face late fitness tests.
Lucas Perez sustained an ankle injury in the EFL Cup win over Reading on Tuesday and may not return until December.
Granit Xhaka serves the final match of his three game suspension for his red-card against Swansea City.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: S Child, S Burt
Fourth official: C Pawson
Arsenal to get back to winning Premier League ways with a 2-1 victory.