Arsenal v Sunderland Preview
Arsenal will assess England forward Theo Walcott (thigh). Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ankle) and defender Laurent Koscielny (calf) will both miss out having withdrawn from the midweek internationals. Summer signing Santi Cazorla will be monitored after his trip to Puerto Rico with Spain, while Olivier Giroud is expected to lead the attack following the sale of Robin van Persie to Manchester United. Midfielder Jack Wilshere (ankle) continues his rehabilitation from an ankle injury as does defender Bacary Sagna (broken leg).
Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill could hand a start to new striker Louis Saha. Saha joined on a one-year deal this week after he was released by Tottenham and is likely to feature with striker Stephane Sessegnon an injury doubt (ankle). Wes Brown (knee ligaments), Phil Bardsley (ankle) and David Vaughan (surgery) are all set to miss out.
Arsene Wenger: “Traditionally it is always an intense, physical game against them. We have to create space.”
Martin O’Neill: “Training has been good this week and we will look to do a few things better than we have done so far in pre-season. It’s going to be a difficult game but playing Arsenal is always a difficult game. I don’t think the departure of Robin van Persie puts any more pressure on Arsenal but that’s not my concern anyway, there is enough pressure on us without worrying about the position.”
Arsenal have had debutants sent off in the opening Premier League game in each of the last two seasons – Koscielny and Gervinho.
When Arsenal last met Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium, Robin van Persie scored Arsenal’s fastest-ever Premier League goal (29 seconds).
Arsenal have lost just one of their last 17 league games against Sunderland.
The Gunners recouped the most points from losing positions of any team in the 2011-12 Premier League.
Arsene Wenger’s side didn’t win a single penalty at the Emirates in the 2011-12 Premier League.
28 per cent of the goals Sunderland conceded were headers, the highest proportion in the top flight last season.
Arsenal scored more goals in the opening 15 minutes than any other team in the 2011-12 Premier League (12).
Arsenal have won none of their last three Premier League games at home (D2 L1).
Sunderland have won none of their last seven Premier League away matches (D3 L4).
Martin O’Neill has only won one of 16 Premier League meetings with Arsene Wenger as a manager (W1 D6 L9): a 2-0 win at the Emirates with Aston Villa in November 2008
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