After the Dutchman's transfer to Manchester United, the north London club begins the new season hopeful of success against a Sunderland side hungry for a good start of its own.
Djourou, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs
Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski
O'Shea, Bramble, Cuellar, Richardson
Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, McClean, Sessegnon
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Arsenal begins its post-Robin Van Persie era against Sunderland and is likely to start with Olivier Giroud in attack, supported by Theo Walcott, who is a slight doubt due to an injury that cost him his involvement in this week's England friendly, and Lukas Podolski.
Mikel Arteta is doubtful with an injury, but may make the bench. Bacary Sagna is out until September with a broken leg. Laurent Koscielny and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should recover in time to be considered for selection, but Per Mertesacker is waiting in reserve if the former is not passed fit. Tomas Rosicky has a calf injury so Aaron Ramsey could start.
The Black Cats have a few injury problems at the back, with Wes Brown and Phil Bardsley both out for a few weeks, and Michael Turner having joined Norwich.
They have new signing Louis Saha available after he signed on Thursday, and the Frenchman could go straight into attack. Stephane Sessegnon should feature despite struggling with a foot problem, but David Vaughan is sidelined.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Arsenal is unbeaten in its last 11 opening day fixtures, but this is the first time it has started their season at home since 2008, when it beat West Brom 1-0 thanks to a Samir Nasri goal.
- Since the Premier League began, Arsenal has won 12 and lost just three of its fixtures on the opening day, but its first ever game in the league was a 4-2 defeat against Norwich City in 1992.
- Nicklas Bendtner spent last season on loan with Sunderland, scoring eight goals in 28 appearances and cementing his place in the Denmark national team.
- Arsenal defender Carl Jenkinson is eligible to play internationally for both England and Finland due to having a Finnish mother, but despite having been offered a full international cap by the Nordic country, he is as yet undecided.
- The Gunners have lost just one of their last 17 games against Sunderland, that game being a 1-0 away defeat on Nov. 21, 2009 when they went down to a Darren Bent goal in the 71st minute.
- Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill (pictured right) has only tasted victory once against Arsene Wenger as a manager, that win being Aston Villa’s 2-0 triumph at the Emirates in November 2008.
- Last season, 28 percent of the goals Sunderland conceded were from headers, the highest proportion of all teams in the Premier League.
- Black Cats midfielder Sebastian Larsson began his career in English soccer as a trainee with Arsenal, but made just three appearances for the club’s first team before joining Birmingham City permanently after a successful loan spell at St. Andrews.
- Sunderland did not enjoy a particularly successful season, winning just one of their six friendlies, that being its 3-2 victory over Dutch side FC Groningen in the Peace Cup.
- Ji Dong-Won was part of the South Korean Olympic squad that won the bronze medal, scoring against Great Britain in the quarterfinals.