Arsenal vs Sunderland preview: Adam Johnson can make a difference, insists his manager Dick Advocaat

The England international is facing charges of sexual activity with a girl under 16, but could feature in his side's battle to avoid relegation at the Emirates

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Adam Johnson could have a significant role to play as Sunderland attempt to drag themselves over the Premier League finishing line at Arsenal.

The England international appeared before magistrates on Monday to face three charges of sexual activity with a girl under 16 and one of grooming, which he denies.

Having made a strong impact as a substitute in the goalless draw against Leicester City at the weekend, the 27-year-old is in the squad that travelled to the Emirates Stadium knowing that a point would be enough to secure the club’s top-flight status.

Sunderland’s head coach, Dick Advocaat, has hinted that the former Middlesbrough and Manchester City winger could start, saying: “He’s in the squad and when you are in the squad, there’s always a chance you will start.

“This team works so hard and you have to be fair to all of them, but Adam is a player who can do something different for us. His style is different from others – you saw that when he came on against Leicester.”


Johnson is yet to be named in the starting line-up by Advocaat, who will have a total of nine games at the helm of the struggling club, but has come on as a substitute in six of the last seven matches.

Advocaat remains coy over his own future amid speculation that he could extend his stay at the Stadium of Light should he manage to avoid relegation. Reports from the Netherlands have suggested he has promised his wife he will not commit himself to a longer-term role. “We will see,” he said. “Next week, I will take the decision.”

Sunderland must also take on champions Chelsea away in their final game but a point will keep them up even if Hull City manage to beat Manchester United on Sunday.

Jack Rodwell will return to the squad after the former Everton and Manchester City midfielder missed Saturday’s draw because of a hamstring injury. But Liam Bridcutt will be missing with an ankle problem and will join defender Wes Brown and midfielder Jordi Gomez (both knee) on the sidelines.