SAFC v Arsenal (A) Preview

At Everton we succumbed to our fourth defeat in a row. Will it be five at Arsenal? More than bloody likely. However, this is the wacky world of SAFC, where you can get fantastic results coupled with soul-crushing defeats...

SAFC Team News

Instead of a little injury round-up, we’ll just include it in the general team news, there’s just so much of it.

Starting off between the sticks where Craig Gordon finds himself headed to Sweden as opposed to London to get his dodgy knee checked out by a specialist. I’d say it’s a big loss, but he has been out of sorts recently, and would no doubt have been taken out the firing line regardless of injury.

This of course means young Belgian Simon Mignolet will continue in goal, and good luck to him. The previously unheard of youngster has been in the main, impressive when called upon this season, and although Gordon is the out and out number one, Mig isn’t too far behind.

Sitting on the bench in Mignolet’s absence will be either youngster Ben Wilson, or the older and slightly more experienced Trevor Carson. Carson is currently away on loan at Lincoln City, and with Bruce yet to recall him at time of writing it could be an indication as to whether the gaffer rates the lad, who in my opinion would have made it by now if he was going to.

Into defence, and it’s one of the few areas on the pitch where we can expect little change, which is in all honesty quite a depressing thought as we’re finding Micheal Turner a massive miss.

Nedum Onuoha’s status remains uncertain, but we’re hopeful he’ll be back or else it could be Ahmed Elmohamady in at right back. Not my preference, but it seems Brucey won’t shift Bardsley across with Richardson back to left back. Titus Bramble will once again captain the team, partnered by John Mensah.

Into midfield, and things get a bit interesting, but injuries remain the theme. Bruce this week hinted that Jack Colback is in line for a start. Great news on two counts as a) it’s good to see another local youngster come through, and b) he’s looked very decent since his return. We’re fully expecting Steve Bruce to through the ginger midfielder in to the centre and hope for the best.

In the middle it looks like he’ll partner Sulley Muntari, who desperately needs to up his game after several lacklustre performances, and an attacking trio of Henderson, Sessegnon & Richardson will play in behind Asamoah Gyan.

Bolo Zenden picked up an injury in the warm-up at Everton, and will miss the trip to Arsenal. Shame, because we could do with an ‘old-head’ out there.

Into attack, and obviously Gyan gets the start. On the bench however will be Ryan Noble, who was easily the most impressive performer at Everton, despite only playing 30 minutes or so. Bruce has talked him up massively this week, and it looks like he’ll be involved in match-day squads for the rest of the season. Noble has been prolific at every level, so hopefully he is at this one too.

We’ve been recently boosted by the returns to training of Danny Welbeck & Fraizer Richardson, although it’s likely Arsenal will be too soon for them to be involved.

Can we see Riveros, Angeleri or the likes starting? Neither can I.

Bruce’s Probably Team:
Mignolet; Elmohamady, Bramble, Mensah, Bardsley; Colback, Muntari, Richardson, Henderson, Sessegnon; Gyan

My Team:
Mignolet; Bardsley, Bramble, Mensah, Richardson; Colback, Muntari, Sessegnon, Henderson, Elmohamady; Gyan

From the Arsenal side

Arsenal have injury problems of their own, and a rather bigger game against Barcelona in a matter of days. I can only hope they go into the game thinking "it’s only Sunderland" to give us a sporting chance.

Either that or a totally different SAFC than the last month turn up and give it a right good go.

I can’t hide my delight that the likes of Fabregas, Van Persie & Walcott are out injured, but at the end of the day they’re Arsenal, and have ample replacements.

The way forward in this will be to get physical. Muntari will need to dominate the midfield, whether he can or not is a different matter. In another physical duel, Gyan will have to use all his pace and physicality and give Squillaci & Kosielny a few nudges here and there, and cause problems otherwise we're going to be lost up front.

Arsenal looked dominant in their win over Leyton Orient in midweek, and will no doubt be looking to get an early lead against our lads, and hold on for the win.

If we can get to half-time on level terms or better, we’ve every chance of coming away with something.

Prediction

It’s hard to see us get anything realistically, and sadly my prediction reflects that. I’m going for 3-1 to Arsenal. Bendtner with a couple, Nasri another, Sessegnon for the lads.

It’s known that most my predictions are wrong however, so lets hope the boys give the thousands travelling to the Highbury Library v2.0 something to shout about.

Enjoy the game everyone, and Ha’way the lads.

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