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Fan Focus: Arsenal (A) Pre-Match Views

For the subject of this week's Fan Focus we got in touch with James from top Arsenal blog - GunnerBlog, to see how he feels about his team, our team, and the match in general on Saturday...

I won’t dwell on the Carling Cup too much, I’m more interested in the aftermath. Arsenal lose to Birmingham City, is it the ‘crisis’ certain members of the media are making out?

James: Whilst I won't try and hide our disappointment at failing to pick up silverware (once again), there are still bigger targets to play for. Winning the league would be a superb achievement, and with Chelsea's victory over United in midweek, is very much a possibility.

Of course the good news for you is we’re in town this weekend. Not won for a while? Player not scored in ages? Manger under pressure? Just send for Sunderland, we’ll roll over. Are you confident of getting back on track this weekend?

James: A club like Arsenal goes in to every home game expecting to win - and this Saturday will be no different. Sunderland have a few injury problems to contend with too, so most Gooners will be expecting three points.

The injuries are mounting up for Arsenal; Van Persie, Fabregas & Walcott all out for a few weeks. Who’s going to be the biggest miss?

James: I think they're all important players for different reasons, but Cesc is the one who really makes us tick. Without him we lack a bit of creativity, but his most important asset is his drive and will to win. Had he played at Wembley, I'm certain that the result would've been different.

It’s said in many footballing circles that Arsenal only need a keeper, and a centre-back. However, if you could only sign one of those, which need would you fill first, and who should Wenger splash the cash on?

James: Arsenal fans are very excited about 20-year old Pole Wojciech Szczesny, so I don't think you'll meet too many fans who'd want to buy a keeper that might impede his development. At centre-half, Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny have struck up an effective partnership in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen, though Sebastien Squillaci has looked shaky when asked to deputise. Another centre-half wouldn't go amiss.

With a slightly bigger game shortly after you play us, do you anticipate Wenger making significant changes on Saturday to avoid any further injuries, and what do you think the starting line-up will be?

James: I think our team will be as strong as we can manage. Something like: Szczesny; Sagna Djourou Koscielny Clichy; Song Wilshere; Bendtner Nasri Arshavin; Chamakh

Have you managed to see much of Sunderland this season, and which individuals have stood out?

James: I've been a fair bit of them, and have been really impressed with Asamoah Gyan. I was at the World Cup in South Africa where he was one of the outstanding players, and was surprised there wasn't more competition for his signature. Elmohamady's combination of pace, directness and physical strength has also impressed me.

From my own standpoint, I think Asamoah Gyan’s physicality might get the better of Kosielny on Saturday. Which battles on the pitch are you looking forward to, and where do you think the game will be won and lost?

James: If, as expected, Cesc is still out injured, then Samir Nasri will be vitally important. The likes of Muntari will have to try and keep him quiet in that 'number 10' role.

1-1 at the Stadium of Light in an eventful game, what’s your prediction for this weekends game?

James: I'm expecting an Arsenal win - I'll say 2-1.

Thanks very much for chatting with us, and I look forward to speaking to you again after the game!

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