Arsenal will play against Sunderland on Saturday in the FA Cup’s 5th round tie at the Stadium of Light, as the two Premier League clubs will go head-to-head for the second time in as many weeks.
In their previous meeting at the same venue last weekend, Arsenal snatched a late 2-1 win against the Black Cats thanks to a decisive goal in injury time by on-loan striker and club-legend Thierry Henry.
But the Gunners gave up their good run of form last Tuesday with a 0-4 crushing defeat at the hands of AC Milan in the Champions League, which puts them almost out of contention for the quarterfinals of Europe’s most prestigious tournament.
And for the FA Cup clash with Sunderland, they won’t have Thierry Henry this time as the former French footballer ended his loan spell from the MLS with the game against Milan.
On the other hand, Sunderland coach Martin O’Neill, who has revived the team after Steve Bruce’s sacking as manager, will get to use the experience from his team’s defeat last week against the same team. And perhaps, a strategy to ‘gun down’ the Gunners could be on the cards.
The home side players will have the advantage of a week’s rest, while the Gunners will be playing their second important game within just four days.
The visitors would be confident after last week’s win here and could be fired up to make their way to Wembley. Arsene Wenger’s men now have the FA Cup as their only hope of getting some silverware this season, after a period of more than 6 years without a trophy.
Laurent Koscielny will be out to an injury sustained against AC Mlian, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is most likely to start the game for the Gunners.
Whatever the outcome, a nail-biting match is what fans will witness this weekend.
Probable line-ups – Sunderland – Mignolet, Bardsley, O’Shea, Turner, Richardson, Larsson, Colback, Gardner, McClean, Sessegnon, Campbell/Wickham
Arsenal - Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Ramsey, Song, Arteta, Walcott, Van Persie, Oxlade-Chamberlain