We approach the last game before another international break. We got lucky with the last one, no one came back injured, so this time our players will all return to Arsenal in ambulances. All the other matches are on at 2 or 3pm, normal times, why do we have to wake up relatively early on a Sunday morning?
Anyway, the visitors to Ashburton Grove are Roy Keane’s Sunerland. Yet another home game. After the Slavia Prague game on the 23rd we’ll have played ten of our first fifteen games at home. Although, to make up for it, after that, seven of the subsequent nine games are away, including one at Anfield. And after that we play Chelsea and Spurs at home. That’ll be the period that either substantiates us as firm title challengers, or sees us hit a poor run of form that weakens our position. But, a win on Sunday gives us our tenth in a row in all competitions, can’t really ask for more than that. I didn’t realise that we actually hold the record for consecutive league wins from 2002 when we won fourteen in a row, unbelievable. Only ten more to go to beat that.
Considering they’re pretty shite, Sunderland have made a respectable start to the season. They’ve lost four games yet are still above Spurs. Beautiful. When I think of Sunderland, the first goal I think of is the last minute winner against Spurs!
In all competitions in the Premiership, we’ve beaten Sunderland nine times, drawn four times and lost three times. The last meeting of the two sides was in May last year.
Gallas’ permanent injury will probably persist, and with Almunia not putting a foot wrong it’s doubtful Lehmann will come back for this, although he is back in full training. Maybe if he plays for Germany during the international break we’ll see what happens when he comes back. The last time Wenger spoke about Rosicky, he quoted this game as being the return date. However, with Tommy you can never be sure that a gentle breeze hasn’t reinjured him for a few more weeks, and sure enough, we probably won’t see him again until after the international break, assuming he doesn’t break while playing for the Czech Republic. Eduardo is definitely out, Diaby should be back in the squad. With a two week gap before our next game may as well go full strength, although there is potential for rotation.
Subs: Fabianski, Gilberto, Diaby, Walcott, Bendtner.
Andy Cole, Kieran Richardson, Dean Whitehead, Stanislav Varga, Carlos Edwards and Russel Anderson all miss this game.