The 3-0 triumph over relegation rivals Norwich will keep Sunderland in good stead for the Arsenal game, where the Black Cats need to try and record a victory if they want to finally leave the bottom three. This will be an important game for the Gunners as well, as they are desperate to cement the third place in the standings.
Sunderland had a pretty disappointing start to the current season, with coach Dick Advocaat eventually paying the price, and the club fans had some doubts over his successor Sam Allardyce. However, while the Big Sam couldn’t help the Black Cats avoid the relegation tussle altogether, he has done really well since taking over the reigns, with his side especially impressive after the turn of the year. The 4-6-4 record achieved in the new year has helped the team seriously improve their survival hopes, and it was the weekend’s triumph over Norwich on the road that is likely to have the biggest effect on their survival chances. After the 3-0 win at Carrow Road, Sunderland sit one point behind the Canaries, albeit with a game in hand, and they definitely look they can avoid relegation at the end of the season. Next match against revived Arsenal will be no easy task, but the hosts should have an extra as they will have had a full week to prepare, unlike the Gunners, who faced West Bromwich on Thursday. It is important to note that Sunderland have lost last three home games vs Arsenal, but they might just be able to reverse the trend this weekend.
Manager Sam Allardyce has no selection worries at the moment, meaning he could stick to the same side that defeated Norwich.
However, with talented youngster Duncan Watmore scoring on his return, he is now pushing for a place in the starting line-up.
Whatever happens between now and 15th May, this will be dubbed another poor season for Arsenal’s standards, although it is not as if the Gunners have nothing to play for in the remaining four fixtures. Arsene Wenger’s charges have yet to secure Champions League qualification, sitting four points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United, while they are two points clear of Man City in the race for the automatic CL qualification. The Gunners have shown some improvement of late, recording three wins to nil in last five games, but also failing to take maximum points from matches against West Ham and Crystal Palace despite being in a winning position. It is clear that all the setbacks they suffered this season have left its toll on the players, who no longer have the self-belief needed to either see off games or returning from a losing position. Arsene Wenger resisted temptation to rest too many first team regulars in midweek, with only Francis Coquelin and Danny Welbeck getting a breather, meaning that tired legs may prove a problem when Arsenal face in-form Sunderland, who are fighting for their lives at the moment.
Kieran Gibbs missed the West Bromwich game through a back problem, but he should be available for selection against Sunderland.
The likes of Francis Coquelin and Danny Welbeck should return to the side after they were rested in the midweek game.
Key Factors to Consider
- Arsenal won six of last seven matches vs Sunderland
- The Gunners won on last three visits to Stadium of Light
- Sunderland suffered one defeat in last six games (D4 W1)
- Arsenal are unbeaten in last five (W3 D2)
- The Gunners won three of last ten away games (D4 L3)
Sunderland have been tough to beat of late and having just recorded what could prove a crucial win for Premier League survival, they can be trusted to make life difficult for Arsenal. The Gunners haven’t exactly impressed of late and having also played on Thursday, we doubt they will have enough in them to win at the Stadium of Light.
Verdict: Sunderland not to lose
Best Odds: 21/20