Arsene Wenger has a selection problem ahead of the match following injuries to Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott while on England duty but the Gunners should still have more than enough fire power to get over the line.
The injuries make it impossible to predict what sort of shape Wenger will set the team up with but fortunately the Gunners have some very professional and clever players in their midfield to fall back on.
Here’s the side they may go with.
GK – Wojciech Szczesny
Say what you like about the state of Arsenal’s goalkeeping reserves, their Polish number one will always go all out to produce his best performance. His shot stopping ability and organisation of his back four will be important because Sunderland will have spells of pressure.
RB – Bacary Sagna
Sagna has recently been used in the centre of defence but expect to see him move to a more natural right back role. Defensively he’s possibly the best right back in the Premier League and he also offers an extra outlet to the midfield which will be important if Walcott is unavailable.
CB – Per Mertesacker
The big German defender is going to be crucial if Paolo Di Canio urges Sunderland to play a long ball game, also looking to make the most of set piece situations. He lacks pace but his defensive awareness has proven to be very solid this season and over the course of last season.
CB – Laurent Koscielny
Koscielny will take his regular place in the back four with Thomas Vermaelen still recovering from a back problem. His pace compliments the physical side of the game that Mertesacker brings to the table and the Frenchman has already forged a great partnership with his colleague.
LB – Kieran Gibbs
Gibbs should continue in the left back role because his pace means he can get forward quickly and provide width down the left side of the pitch. His game continues to improve in a defensive sense and his positional awareness is possibly better than it’s ever been.
RM – Santi Cazorla
It’s a shame that Cazorla may be moved out to the right but Wenger may not have any other choice if Walcott is unavailable or only makes the subs bench. Cazorla is good enough on the ball to play this role and he can move inside creating space for Sagna to run into.
CM – Jack Wilshere
Wilshere is the best midfielder Arsenal have when it comes to bursting through the middle with pace, creating a huge hole through the heart of the opposition. The only time you should expect to see him break from this central midfield role is if he’s asked to play in behind Olivier Giroud at some point.
CM – Mesut Ozil
The German will go straight into the heart of the side as the creative force through which all of the attacking play flows. He had a superb international break with Germany and should be relishing the chance of holding together a patched up midfield, as Arsenal go about their business.
CM – Aaron Ramsey
Considering Ramsey is having one of his best spells in an Arsenal shirt since he joined the club, that’s not something Wenger should be looking to risk. Ramsey can offer good support to Wilshere and Ozil, occupying space and reading the game well for when Sunderland counter attack.
LM – Mathieu Flamini
Flamini could be asked to play a disciplined role out on the left of Arsenal’s team. It’s nothing like his normal midfield job but again, Wenger doesn’t have any choice. Flamini can rotate with any of the central midfield players in this position and he also offers Gibbs a lot of protection down that side of the pitch.
ST – Olivier Giroud
Giroud has been Arsenal’s main man in attack so far this season and he will play the lone striker role. His ability to finish half chances and make the most of seemingly dead situations makes him a threat. His height and presence also means he can hold the ball up if the back four needs to release pressure quickly.
Who do you think should be starting? How would you structure the midfield?
image: © jansolo09