After suffering disappointment in midweek, Arsenal will be hoping for a first win in three Premier League games with a win over relegation threatened Sunderland.
Arsenal gave a very good account of themselves against Bayern Munich, but Mesut Ozil’s penalty miss was crucial and Wojciech Szczesny’s sending off made it an uphill struggle. They will still be down after that defeat, but attention must turn to this game, which is an important one as the Gunners look to continue their title challenge. They will see this as a must-win game.
The visitors need the points themselves, as they battle for Premier League survival. Defeat at home to Hull City, coupled with West Bromwich Albion’s late point against Chelsea sent Sunderland back into the drop zone, which they have occupied for much of the campaign. However, performances continue to be encouraging, and they maintained their excellent cup record last time out, beating Southampton to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Kieran Gibbs should be fit enough to start for Arsenal despite being forced off against Bayern. Theo Walcott, Abou Diaby and Thomas Vermaelen remain out, while manager Arsene Wenger must decide whether to restore Olivier Giroud to the starting XI.
Sundeland defender Wes Brown completes a two match ban, so Santiago Vergini is set to deputise. Carlos Cuellar and Kieren Westwood are still out, but manager Gustavo Poyet is hopeful that Steven Fletcher can be fit enough to make the bench.
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