Writer: Gaz Johnson
Date:Friday February 19 2010
The Emirates Stadium
Sunderland look to do the famous double over high flying Arsenal this weekend. Unbelievably Sunderland have not won since they beat The Gunners way back in November when Bent smashed home a scramble in the box from a corner.
13 games later and we now find ourselves 4 points above the relegation zone and confidence hard to come by. Sunderland have recently went three unbeaten but they should still have won in at least two of these recent results.
Arsenal are not full of confidence after a shaky performance in Europe on Wednesday and also face a small injury crisis for the arrival of Sunderland on Saturday.
Steve Bruce has spoke about attacking this weekend but we need to be careful we do not repeat our 7 - 2 drubbing to Chelsea if we go forward to eagerly.
Steve Bruce speaks about the importance of the win that may turn things around: 'What is confidence? If you could bottle it, you'd make a fortune.
'When you're playing well, you just go out on the pitch and things happen for you and you don't even think about it.
'When things aren't going so well, sometimes you find you're trying too hard.
'And when things aren't going for you in the Premier League, the pressure becomes intense through the media and if you're not careful it can engulf you.
'But a result will turn everything round.
'If we go and get a win, all of a sudden everything will change and the confidence will come back.
'We've had a horrible run and there's no getting away from that.
'But it's not been all doom and gloom - we've drawn six of our last 12 games, and we're currently unbeaten in three.
'Of course, though, we need a win and we all know that.
'If you had said when we beat Arsenal in November that we would go to the Emirates in February without winning in between, I'd never have believed you.'
Arsenal will have to make a decision over their goalkeeper after the antics of Fabianski in Europe. Almunia is rated at 50/50 after injuring his finger recently.
Diaby, Arshavin and Eduardo will all miss out on this fixture but Alex Song could return to the midfield for Arsene Wenger's team.
When Sunderland beat Arsenal in November, Jordan Henderson completely outplayed the amazing Fabregas. How we need someone to do this again this weekend as Cesc seems to be hitting top form this season. He can change the game with one moment of brilliance and we need to hope he does not show up on Saturday to have any chance of picking up some points.
Steve Bruce was handed a massive boost by the return to training for John Mensah, Anton Ferdinand, Kieron Richardson and Steed Malbranque this week.
Andy Reid will miss out as he faces a new hamstring blow and Sunderland will also miss midfielders Cattermole and Meyler due to suspensions.
This game will be uncomfortable to watch if we concede in the early stages as we could face another drubbing like the last time down London. The importance of Mr. Cool John Mensah returning to defence could be crucial in our efforts to do the double over the Gooners.
If we can stand firm for the first stages and catch them on the break we may need to rely on Mensah and his confidence at the back to keep us tight along the back four.
Sunderland are currently 3 unbeaten in the league with 3 consecutive draws.
The Gunners have yet score in the first 15 minutes of a game at the Emirates this season (all competitions).
Referee: Steve Bennett Assistant referees: Andy Halliday & Martin Yerby Fourth official: Phil Gibbs
Arsenal 2 - 1 Sunderland
Sunderland face Fulham at home next weekend.
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Date:Friday February 19 2010
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