Time To Shine In The Stadium Of Light – Sunderland Preview
The Stadium of Light provides a welcome return to club football from the drudgery of the internationals. Arsene has had a mixed bag of a fortnight, losing van Persie, Diaby and Gibbs whilst welcoming back Denilson and Walcott. Robin’s placenta queen had gone into hiding from the Serb authorities but she cannot be that hard to find since Frank Lampard knows where she is apparently.
Eduardo is the Dutchman’s replacement, a man with a point to prove, denied the opportunity to show us his talents on anything other than a sporadic basis so far, is now motivated by a new long-term contract. It is an example for Tomas Rosicky to follow, the proof that being out of the game for a long spell is not the curtain on an Arsenal career. Hopefully Wenger and Gazidis are talking to the Czech international and his representatives to resolve that issue as well.
Steve Bruce acknowledged his admiration for the Arsenal manager this morning, unusual for a former charge of The Dark Lord:
He is a genius. The way they play is fantastic. They are a great team to watch with great individual players. For me, when Arsenal come to town, it is THE big occasion, they really have that extra bit of class.
Now either Brucie is hoping to get a bonus by lulling the Arsenal team into a false sense of security or the ties forged through loaning him players in the past or recommending someone who could do a good job has softened the former United captain. The fixtures following the return to club action after international weeks are notoriously slovenly in Arsenal performances. This afternoon, Arsenal will need to be on their guard against a side which has a decent home record. It is a match that Arsenal should not fear, their own form strong enough to warrant a reasonable expectation of three points.
There will be changes to the side. Diaby’s injury will probably mean a starting place for Aaron Ramsey, fresh from a sparkling performance for Wales against Scotland. Samir Nasri could drop into that role but I would prefer him on one flank with Arshavin on the other. Despite improving performances, Emmanuel Eboue’s inclusion on the right would be an overt defensive move, leaving the front three shorn of one more goalscorer. At left back, Arsene seems likely to go with the experienced head of Mikael Silvestre rather than Armand Traore at left back. Other than that, there is little apparent reason to mess around with the side.
Those changes would mean a starting line-up of:
Almunia; Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Silvestre; Song, Fabregas, Ramsey; Nasri, Eduardo, Arshavin
The returning players seem to be destined for the bench at best, a run out for any of them this afternoon would be a precursor to a start in the Champions League. The key thing for Wenger will be keeping personnel fit for the visit of Chelsea next week, especially since a point against Standard ought to be good enough to win the group in that competition. Three points today would consolidate second place, especially as Chelsea seem likely to romp home against Wolves even with a depleted squad.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.