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Preview: Arsenal v Sunderland
18 Feb 2010 - 15:06:03
Arsene Wenger's Arsenal will be looking to build on last weekend's favourable results with a win against Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
The Gunners' 1-0 victory over Liverpool coupled with both Chelsea and Manchester United's failure to win their respective games kept the north Londoners in the title race.
They will come up against a Sunderland side struggling to rediscover their early-season form. Indeed, since beating none other than Arsenal at the Stadium of Light back in November, Steve Bruce's charges have failed to win a league game, a run of 12 games.
That win against a visiting Arsenal side came courtesy of a Darren Bent strike and, despite his side's loss of form, the former Spurs hitman has continued to provide a potent goal threat, netting five times in his last seven league games, including Sunderland's only goal in their 1-1 draw with Portsmouth last week.
Bent has also developed a penchant for netting against the Gunners and has now bagged three in his last five Premier League appearances against Arsenal.
While Bent may well provide Sunderland's biggest goal threat on Saturday, Arsenal's in-form skipper, Cesc Fabregas, will no doubt be central to his team's chances of success.
The Spanish schemer is the leading goalscoring midfielder in the top division this season, with 11 goals so far, while he is also the top creative star with 11 assists to his name. Keeping the former Barca starlet quiet will be vital if the Black Cats are to come away from the capital with any points.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is hoping that a change in fortune will soon come the Black Cats' way.
He moaned: "If someone had told me we wouldn't win a game for three months, I'd have found it quite staggering. But we have to get on with it. Since the Arsenal game (at home) we've lost big players, but I wouldn't have thought it possible to be on the run we're on."
Sunderland suffered yet another injury blow during the week when Andy Reid was ruled out for another month following a recurrence of his previous injury at Portsmouth.
Meanwhile, Arsenal expect a quartet of injured players to return following their midweek defeat at FC Porto in the Champions League. Andrey Arshavin, Alex Song, Manuel Almunia and William Gallas could all come back into the side.