Arsenal - Sunderland Preview: Gunners begin post-Van Persie era looking for victory
After the Dutchman's transfer to Manchester United, the north London club begin the new season hopeful of success against a Sunderland side hungry for a good start of their own
By Chris Teale
Djourou, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs
Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski
O'Shea, Bramble, Cuellar, Richardson
Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, McClean, Sessegnon
Arsenal begin their post-Robin Van Persie era against Sunderland and are 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, while Bacary Sagna is out until September with a broken leg.
Laurent Koscielny 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 but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been ruled out.
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 are unbeaten in their last 11 opening day fixtures, but this is the first time they have started their season at home since 2008, when they beat West Brom 1-0 thanks to a Samir Nasri goal.
- Since the Premier League began, Arsenal have won 12 and lost just three of their fixtures on the opening day, but their 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 international football 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 league games against Sunderland, that game being a 1-0 away defeat on November 21st 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% 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 football 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 their 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 quarter finals.
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Top 3 Predictions
Arsenal 3-0 Sunderland
- 14.44 %
Arsenal 2-0 Sunderland
- 14.19 %
Arsenal 2-1 Sunderland
- 12.99 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Sep 14, 2013||Sunderland 1 - Arsenal 3|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Feb 9, 2013||Sunderland 0 - Arsenal 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Aug 18, 2012||Arsenal 0 - Sunderland 0|
|England - FA Cup (FA)||Feb 18, 2012||Sunderland 2 - Arsenal 0|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Feb 11, 2012||Sunderland 1 - Arsenal 2|
|Dec 11, 2013||SSC Napoli 2 - Arsenal 0||UCL|
|Dec 8, 2013||Arsenal 1 - Everton 1||EPL|
|Dec 4, 2013||Arsenal 2 - Hull 0||EPL|
|Nov 30, 2013||Cardiff City 0 - Arsenal 3||EPL|
|Nov 26, 2013||Arsenal 2 - Olympique de Marseille 0||UCL|
|24||Carlos Javier Cuéllar||Defender|
|27||Ahmed El Mohamady||Midfielder|
With Robin Van Persie having made the move to Old Trafford, it falls to Olivier Giroud to provide the finishing up front for the Gunners. He will need to be on top form to even come close to replicating the Dutchman’s success last season, and Arsenal will be hopeful he can carry his form for Montpellier last season into the new campaign.
Having joined on Thursday, Frenchman Louis Saha will be available for this game, and hopeful of making an instant impact for his new club. He is no stranger to playing against Arsenal, having played for their north London rivals Tottenham last season.
They may have lost Van Persie, but despite this Arsenal have one of their strongest squads available in recent seasons, including several exciting youngsters. Sunderland have an exciting squad, and could cause some problems at the Emirates, but the Gunners should have enough to open the new season with a comfortable victory.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed