Arsenal v Sunderland - Match Preview, Stats & Team News

To be played on Saturday 22nd February 2014 at 15:00. Venue: Emirates Stadium, London.

Odds: Arsenal 1/3, Draw 9/2, Sunderland 11/1

Last season: 0-0

Preview & injury news

After completing their first bout of difficult fixtures of the second half of the season, surely nothing less than a win will do for Arsenal when they take on Sunderland this weekend as they look to keep up the pressure on the other teams at the top of the Premier League table - currently, they sit a point behind Chelsea at the top.

Having been hammered by Liverpool at Anfield, a draw with Manchester United followed at the Emirates Stadium yet the club still managed to book their place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Arsenal, though, lost the first leg of their Champions League encounter to European king Bayern Munich, though they gained some plaudits for their performance in that game prior to being reduced to 10 men. 

For Sunderland, due to their midweek clash away to Manchester City being postponed they currently sit third from bottom on goal difference in a very tight relegation battle but they have only lost two of their last 10 in the league. They are carrying a decent amount of momentum with them at the moment as they continue to prepare for their League Cup final against Manchester City and have reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup courtesy of their win over Southampton at the weekend.

On the injury front, Arsenal have a couple of injury worries, with Kieran Gibbs limping off in the Champions League tie against Bayern Munich, whilst Aaron Ramsey is still out with a thigh problem. Kim Kallstrom has yet to make his debut for the club because of his back problem in what remains a pretty similar injury picture compared to previous weeks for the Gunners

For Sunderland, they are sweating on the fitness of striker Steven Fletcher who has been struggling with a calf problem whilst Carlos Cuellar may be available for selection after struggling with a thigh injury recently. Goalkeeper Kieran Westwood is still sidelined with a shoulder injury.

Key stats

Here are the two sides' top scorers in the Premier League so far this season:

Olivier Giroud Arsenal FW 10 24 2,064
Aaron Ramsey Arsenal MF 8 18 1,495
Theo Walcott Arsenal MF 5 13 858
Adam Johnson Sunderland MF 7 23 1,551
Fabio Borini Sunderland FW 3 20 1,084
Steven Fletcher Sunderland FW 3 19 1,178

Their average possession statistic during this season's campaign:

NamePossession PercentagePlayed
Arsenal 56.54 26
Sunderland 45.36 25

And the amount of clean sheets they have kept this term

NameClean SheetPlayed
Arsenal 12 26
Sunderland 7 25

5 players to watch

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - The Ox has shown some terrific touches and signs of good form since his return from injury which has included a brace against Crystal Palace and a good performance to ensure Arsenal reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. His pace and trickery could give the Sunderland defence cause for concern as the Gunners look to keep the pressure up on those with them at the top.

Adam Johnson - Johnson has shown signs in recent weeks of a very talented footballer that led him to being rated as one of the more promising English footballers not so long ago. The visitors could do with Johnson showing some similar form this weekend in a bid 

Olivier Giroud - Giroud's problems off the field have been pretty well documented in recent days as he has been left out of the starting line-up for the Gunners but he could be in line for a return to the side this weekend in order to take some of the pressure off Yaya Sanogo up front, depending on how Arsene Wenger feels about the situation. Can Giroud put his off the field concerns behind him and come up with the goods for his side?

Lee Cattermole - What Cattermole gives the midfield is a great deal of bite and breaks up the play, though sometimes not particularly cleanly. But if he can be effective and stop Arsenal's midfield motoring along and break up the play effectively there is a chance of Sunderland getting a pretty good result at the Emirates Stadium.

Mesut Ozil - Ozil has come in for some criticism lately for his lack of form. Some have called him lazy, some have called him tired and said it is because he hasn't had a winter break so it will be interesting to see if Arsene Wenger persists with him in the starting line-up, or take him out of the firing line. If he does play, what kind of performance will we see from the German?

Earlier on in the season

Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal, September 2013.

It may have been Mesut Ozil's debut but Aaron Ramsey stole the show as he continued his excellent start to the season. Ozil got his first assist in the Premier League when he set up Olivier Giroud to give the Gunners the lead against a struggling Sunderland side. Craig Gardner equalised for Sunderland from the penalty spot just after the half time break but Ramsey volleyed home midway through the second half. Shortly afterwards, Sunderland boss Paulo Di Canio was sent from the touchline after protesting against a Jozy Altidore strike that was chalked off. Ramsey wrapped up the points for the visitors after a terrific ball from Giroud.

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