Sunday, July 21, 2024

Sunderland preview

I think we’ve been here before. There’s little to say about today’s game in terms of tactics, team set-up, approach or anything. It’s very, very simple. Win.

Three points are a must today, again were back in the realm where performance doesn’t matter. A good win and a good performance would go some way to help restoring confidence but such is our league position that how we get the three points isn’t even an issue once we get them. A clean sheet would be nice, a few goals even nicer, but I’ll take them any way I get them at this moment in time.

In terms of the team I expect Koscielny to come back in alongside Mertesacker so we should line up: SZCZ – Jenkinson – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Gibbs – Song – Ramsey – Arteta – Gervinho – Walcott – van Persie

Taking chances if, and when, we create them is going to be crucial. I touched on it during the Interlull but as much as we have defensive issues we do have them at the other end of the pitch too. More goals would take some of the pressure off the defence.

It is a game in which we’re really going to have to dig deep and the manager is clearly looking at his experienced players to help drag the club out of the situation it finds itself in. Robin van Persie, Mikel Arteta, Alex Song, even Theo Walcott to an extent, have been around long enough to know what’s required, while at the back the boss is talking up the BFG. He says:

Mertesacker is getting better every game. Yes, he has said to me it is quick here, relentless. He adapts quite well, he is getting more aggressive. I like him personally. I think he is a very intelligent player. Trust the Germans, they can fight.

Heh, I guess a Frenchman would know. The comparisons to Tony Adams were not made by Wenger who probably knows well enough not to burden the Mert with that kind of pressure, but at a time when our defence is leakier than the hull of the Titanic, we do need someone to take charge back there. Hopefully the German is that man. Wenger says:

I think Mertesacker can be a talker. He will come out of himself more, don’t worry.

So much of a good defence is organisation, not just of the defenders, but the players in front of them too. To me it seems strange that some players aren’t ‘talkers’. I know some people are more naturally leaders but surely, in order to your job on the pitch as well as you can, you’re constantly talking to your teammates? Perhaps when Vermaelen’s back (hah), we’ll have that personality in the back four, but in the meantime somebody else has to do the job and if it’s the German than per-fect.

The boss also backed the other signings he made to make an impact, saying:

Santos is a good player, Arteta is a very good player,  Mertesacker for me is getting stronger in every single game. Park is getting stronger and has just come back from Korea, where he scored three goals in two games. They only arrived one month ago basically, you know.

If you don’t win then nobody’s good. It is like that.

And so it is but with Benayoun added to the list we made 5 experienced signings, players who should be able to come in and do a job straight away. Only two of them, Mertesacker and Arteta have appeared regularly, mostly because they filled the gaps that most needed to be filled, and while a month is a short enough period of time, I hope we see more from the others in the coming weeks.

Today we face a side also under real pressure. Sunderland have only won one game this season and we’ve won our last four at home. You can be quite sure Mrs Doubtfire will have his team well up for this one and the set-piece delivery of Seb Larsson is something we’re going to have to watch out for. You know how it is when former players return.

This is the start of a big seven days for us. After today there’s Marseille away in the Champions League, then the Orc army next Sunday. And the bottom line is we need to start winning games and getting points on the board. There are no more excuses, the summer is a thing of the past now, and these players are good enough and professional enough to lift themselves out of the form we find ourselves in.

We have to see an Arsenal team ready and willing to fight out there today. Until we get some momentum going we have to dig out results and I do feel that’s going to be the case today. It won’t come easy but if we give 100% I think it’ll come.

Right, that’s about that. Kick off today is 1.30pm, which may not suit some of you who are forced to do horrible things like spend time with your families on a Sunday, so you can follow the blog, with live, up to the second text updates, on the live blog. Check back later on for a post which gives you all the details or bookmark the default live blog page which will start firing out the updates as soon as we get team news.

And if you fancy sticking a few quid on the game, you can get a £50 free bet with Paddy Power by registering here.

That means it’s time for more coffee, some breakfast, a quick perusal of the Sundays, then football is back. Come on you reds.

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