Arsenal travel to the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon looking to make it 10 Premier League games unbeaten and move to the top of the Premier League. On the other side of the coin, David Moyes will be hoping to get his first Premier League win as Black Cats manager, but it won’t be easy.
Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud have returned from injury lay offs and will be in the travelling squad, though there are several fitness concerns in the Gunners ranks including knocks to Nacho Monreal, Alex Iwobi, Santi Cazorla and a long term injury to Lucas Perez that will see him sidelined for two months.
Here’s the Arsenal line up that is likely to start.
GK: Petr Cech
Cech has serious competition for his number one spot now with Martinez and Ospina impressing in the cup competitions. But Cech is a top class keeper too and he proved that against Middlesbrough last week, arguably saving the Gunners a point.
RB: Hector Bellerin
The Spaniard is in fine form this season and with a lack of creativity in midfield, the Gunners will need to utilise his attacking influence in this game.
CB: Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny
After being rested in midweek, thus duo must continue to go from strength to strength with another clean sheet.
LB: Kieran Gibbs
With Monreal facing a late fitness test, there’s no reason to rush him back as Gibbs is fresh and playing well. Let’s give the Englishman a spell in the team to prove himself.
CM: Francis Coquelin
Coquelin must do his usual job but also try and create between the lines in what is likely to be a tight affair.
CM: Mohammed Elneny
His role will be important, with both Ramsey and Cazorla unlikely to be fit enough to start, Elneny will need to be able to be creative in the midfield as Coquelin is not very influential going forward. We know Elneny has the work rate and passing ability of a box to box midfielder so he needs to prove his worth today.
AM: Mesut Ozil
Ozil needs to get back to his best, hopefully the week off will have helped him.
RM: Theo Walcott
Theo’s form has eased off a bit recently but he has been a huge attacking outlet this season and he is likely to cause big problems for the Sunderland defence. It’s important he maintains his increased work rate this season, especially in away games like this where Hector will need protection.
LM: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
After two goals in midweek, the Ox is likely to get a chance from the start on Saturday and he needs to show how he can deliver consistently. He’s now starting to develop a goal scoring instinct and that needs to continue into the Premier League.
ST: Alexis Sanchez
He might be the main man now but with the Chilean drawing a blank last weekend, it is important he is influential again on Saturday, especially with the fit again Giroud back in the scene.
A note from the bench.. Giroud and Ramsey are likely to be on the bench and hopefully both players feature, with both of them having the potential to come back into the first eleven when fully fit.