Arsene Wenger will welcome back Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott when Arsenal travel to face Sunderland on Saturday, following their midweek Wembley triumph over Brazil, with the former taking the plaudits in a man-of-the-match display. Wilshere excelled in the English midfield, giving hope to the nation that perhaps England can play attacking, possession football.
The Gunners will look to continue their push for a top four spot, in a game against a Sunderland side that will still be hurting following a late winner last week from Jimmy Kebe that consigned them to a 2-1 defeat. The Black Cats will look to Lee Cattermole and Carlos Cueller to sturdy the side, as both may return from injury this weekend. Their inconsistent form throughout the season leaves them in 12th, despite striker Steven Fletcher impressing with 10 goals already this campaign.
Wenger should welcome back captain Thomas Vermaelen, who missed the 1-0 home victory over Stoke last Saturday, while French striker Olivier Giroud will look to continue his rich vein of form, having scored five in his last four outings for the London side. Despite the two clubs playing out a 0-0 draw on the opening day of the season, Martin O’Neill’s side will need to be on song if they wish to take something from the game.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm.
Arsenal 0 Sunderland 0, Premier League, August 2012
Sunderland 2 (Richardson, Oxlade-Chamberlain own-goal) Arsenal 0, FA Cup, February 2012
Sunderland 1 (McClean) Arsenal 2 (Ramsey, Henry), Premier League, February 2012
Arsenal have not lost to Sunderland in the league since November 2009. (1-0)
Arsenal have not failed to score since their 2-0 defeat to Man City on January 13, 7 games ago.
3 Arsenal players have scored over 10 goals this season – Walcott has 18, Giroud has 14 and Podolski has 12, compared to Sunderland’s one – Steven Fletcher has 10.
Sunderland have only won two league games consecutively once this season – December against Southampton and Man City.
Sunderland’s Craig Gardener is the most booked player this season, with 8 yellow cards.
Sunderland to win: 4.5
Arsenal to win: 1.93
TV: Highlights on BBC1 at 10.20pm.