Steve Bruce will hope his side can emulate their achievement of last season by beating Arsenal at home tomorrow. The Black Cats are without a lot of the brawn that made the win possible with the departure of Lorik Cana in the summer, and captain Lee Cattermole out through suspension. Sunderland will also be without the defensive ‘Rock’ John Mensah who picked up an injury in training.
Central midfield duties will fall to Cristian Riveros and Steed Malbranque if they are to operate the 4-4-2 formation. If Bruce decides to arrange his side using the 4-5-1 formation that provided the template for a successful win over Man City, it could see Kieran Richardson pushed up into midfield with Anton Ferdinand providing cover in the left-back position, though this is unlikely with Mensah and Michael Turner out of action. Danny Welbeck could be brought into a five man midfield to play the right wing role that Frazier Campbell filled for large parts of last season.
If Steve Bruce is feeling Brave he could play two up front with Asamoah Gyan lining up alongside Darren Bent. The Ghanian scored on his debut last week and will hope to be an instant favourite in front of his home crowd. The two forwards don’t necessarily have to be both played as out and out strikers, as Gyan looks to possess qualities able to play just off the striker.
Arsene Wenger’s side could be at a disadvantage with the possibility of tired legs after their midweek win over Braga in the Champions League. The squad has already been hit with several injuries mainly in the forward line, and defender Thomas Vermaelen is still out with an achilles injury.
Arsenal might just carry the momentum of their 6-1 win over Braga into the game tomorrow with the fine form of Fabregas setting the standard for a high octane match that could regale or down right humiliate the Wearside audience. The home side need to replicate the pressing, hard-working attitude that won them points against top sides last season in order to compete in this game.
Whether Arsene Wenger will leave the Stadium of Light moaning about ‘dirty’ players, poor football or the disadvantageous European midweek games remains to be seen.
My Predicted Line-up:
GK – Simon Mignolet
LB – Kieran Richardson
RB – Nedum Onouha
CB – Anton Ferdinand
CB – Titus Bramble
LM – Jordan Henderson
RM – Ahmed El-Mohamady
CM – Cristian Riveros
CM – Steed Malbranque
FW – Darren Bent
FW – Asamoah Gyan
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