Sunderland vs Arsenal Preview

Today is a day where we can change the mood. On Wednesday, we literally didn’t turn up – it’s the worst performance I have ever seen in Arsene’s reign – I’d say it was worse than the 8-2 at Old Trafford, because then, we tried, whereas on Wednesday, we literally didn’t even try.

“You can find 100 explanations [why] we had a poor performance and an off day. We lost against a good Milan team, not an exceptional one. Unfortunately we were punished severely.”

Exactly, an average Milan side beat a very poor Arsenal side. I am not going to analyse it any further today, for we need the focus, the fans and the players all on today’s game.

The FA Cup, Sunderland vs Arsenal

Today is a BIG game. The players know it – the post Milan news was that the manager was livid after the game. The FA cup is our last chance of a trophy this year and he wants the team to react in the right way today and get back to winning ways. I’d expect us to field the strongest possible team today. The boss spoke yesterday on how important the game is – the defeat on Wednesday effectively means that we are in two competitions now – the cup and the race for fourth. To be honest, I don’t think we have the squad that good enough to compete for the European Cup – in fact, if Milan can beat us 4-0 this season, just wonder what would have happened if we played Barcelona – hold on, perhaps we may have given a cr*p if we played them – but the defeat in Milan showed us that the lack of confidence, the desire to compete wasn’t there – so better we’re out now, so at least we can concentrate on salvaging our season.

“It is more important now. It was always important but, because we had a big disappointment in the last game, it becomes more important. The Champions League and FA Cup can collide a bit and, schedule-wise, you see that again this year – you go to Milan, you go to Sunderland. But especially after what happened on Wednesday night it is important to have a great performance. We are in fourth position and we have an opportunity to qualify for the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. It is important that we are up for it and do not feel sorry for ourselves because of that [one] performance. It can still be a positive week and we will see how we deal with the Milan game in the second leg later. What is important now, first of all, is not only the FA Cup but as well the response and the mental attitude of our team. They are at stake as well. That is something that is very important for us.”

Arsene spoke of rotating the team and refreshing a few positions, I think he has to have a hard look at the squad – it’s a strange one because we played 9 of our first choice squad against Milan, with only Wilshere & Gervinho the players who would have played if fit… But looking at today’s game, we need to focus on playing an attacking formation – a 4-3-3. With Gervinho back, Oxlade rested and Koscielny injured, my guess at the line up is:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Djourou – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Song – Arteta

Oxlade – Rosicky – Gervinho

Van Persie

Arsene is going to start Gervinho I’m sure – he can be very effective and after the loss in the ACN finals, I’m sure he will be eager to put on a show.

“He was very down when I spoke with him on Monday, now he is better and hopefully he can contribute on Saturday. We don’t know [what impact the Africa Cup of Nations will have]. I see Yaya Toure played on Thursday night for Manchester City and sometimes the best thing to get things out of your system is to play a game and have a performance. When you are young it is important to focus on the next game and show you are a good player.”

With Gervinho back, I hope it adds an extra level of pace and directness to our game. We no longer have Henry in the ranks, and I have to say that he did pass expectations in his performances when he was here, and we have a few different players in the squad now – Oxlade having proved he can make a difference at this level. But we do need more than just players – we need the desire that was missing in Milan. The desire that flows through the team at every level. The desire that make you win the first ball AND the second.

On the game, Arsene did give us some fighting talk.

“We have put together a good series of results and we can consider that night was just an off-day. Therefore we are focused on what we have done well recently because we go into a battle now in which we need confidence, belief and great commitment.”

Let’s believe.

Until tomorrow, adios for now…

  • arsefan101

    COME ON THE ARSENAL!

    Today is make or break.

  • devday

    Today’s line up: Fabianski; Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Coquelin; Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Gervinho Van Persie

  • mesol

    We’re destined to lose with wenger incharged..he loose his magic long long time ago…please go away wenger…give someone to guide arsenal

  • kev

    no trophy for seven years and long it will xontinue with this manager in charge this

  • joel sequeira

    We must do a mass protest , ban one league match no one mst turn up twitter and face book all arsenal fans to not watch a telecast … thats the only way choose one game and do this instead of cribbing … show that money making scoundrel who gets him the money !!

    Spread The Word ( Time to be a real fan)!!

  • joel sequeira

    This week end match … Ban it !! i am posting this on as many blogs as possible !!

    Come on take things in you hands you Gooners!!

  • neil

    Utterly deflating sums it up I think. Our players all seemed so low on morale it is unbelievable. The Milan defeat has crippled the confidence and whatever belief a lot of the players had left in them. Compared to last Saturday, a totally different mindset was on show and it proved costly. Take no credit from Sunderland, they were absolutely fantastic on the day. The likes of McLean tracking back all the way to their corner flag sums up the determination and will power the team had on the day, which quite often wins you games even if the opposition has a better team. Our team just seem to panic after Christmas year in year out, and the fact we’ve sold A LOT of experienced good players from the past (i.e. Gilberto) due to a stupid 30-year old rule has proven costly. In the past we had more experienced players like Vieira, Henry, Bergkamp to nurture the likes of Cesc and RVP; from which they have become such talented players. But does anyone believe the likes of Rosicky/Arshavin can have any positive influence on the likes of AOC/Miyaichi who are coming through? I for one doubt it. Our team has been chopped and changed too much over the last 7 years, which is not going to win us anything. The ‘Invincibles’ team played for several years together, hence they grew as a team. I know everyone is going to blame A.Wenger for everything, as often it is very easy to do so. But getting rid of him will only confirm the departure of RVP and possibly a few more of our key players. I believe something needs to change in the boardroom first before anything, and this followed by a re-vamp of the team. The next few games are going to sum up our season and possibly bring a premature end to it unless they player step up their games.

  • paul c

    There is much anger at Wenger and the Board and all of it is valid and granted but it’s time for all of us to take action by making the emirates an empty library from now to the end of the season. If we qualify for 4th place do you think things will change none whatsoever all Wenger and the board will say is we have done remarkably well to qualify and our youngsters will have learned from this and we had lots of injuries so we don’t need to buy or change anything ……and any of you who think otherwise are delusional if we want things to change we need to vote with our feet starting with the spuds let’s empty the emirates one thing for sure is I will not be attending or selling my tickets as I want my two seats to be empty