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What They're Saying: Arsenal Expect Little Threat From Sunderland

Roker Report has come over all paranoid - we're so sure everyone's talking about us, we've been spying on them. Here's what Saturday's opposition, Arsenal - their manager, pundits and fans - have been saying about their trip to the Stadium of Light tomorrow.

Sunderland v Arsenal - FA Cup Fifth Round Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The Manager

If Arsene Wenger has taken charge of over 1100 Arsenal games, does that mean he's faced 1100 press conferences in his Gunners career spanning twenty years?

Anyway, he conducted his latest this morning to preview tomorrow's lunch-time kick-off at the Stadium of Light, and the man who looks like Prince Charles probably does when he needs a poo, followed the managerial script to the letter when discussing his next opponents, Sunderland.

Sunderland v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Because, every opposition manager so far this season has said two things about Sunderland and Wenger was no exception. They have all hailed the threat of Jermain Defoe and discussed the experience of David Moyes:

Their main danger is Defoe.

[David Moyes] is an experienced manager who has 15 seasons in the Premier League so I think he will adapt to the strength of his team.

But, at least Wenger mixed it up a little and perhaps his French roots were behind a nod to Sunderland's Tunisian attacking midfielder, Wahbi Khazri, who made his name at Bordeaux:

They are good on set-pieces with Khazri, and they have Kone and O'Shea who are dangerous on set-pieces as well.

The fact that Sunderland have such little threatening prowess for opposition managers to concern themselves with tells its own story. When the best Arsene Wenger can come up with is the danger posed by Jermain Defoe in front of goal, and the threat from set-pieces from a side who have yet to score a goal from a set-piece, then it is little wonder we are floundering.

The good news - Arsenal striker, Lucas Perez, is out for eight weeks and perhaps better than that - Santi Carzola, Theo Walcott and Nacho Monreal are all doubts. Just one of them missing would be a welcome boost, all three would be fabulous.

Aaron Ramsey will make his return from a hamstring injury for Arsene Wenger's side having only made one appearance for the Gunners so far this season.

And as a result, celebrities across the globe will be looking fearfully to the Stadium of Light in case the Curse of Ramsey strikes again. According to the conspiracy theory, every time the injury-plagued midfielder has scored, a celebrity has died. So far he's seen off great names including Whitney Houston, Osama Bin Laden and Colonel Gaddafi.

Ramsey himself has described the rumoured existence of a curse as 'not very funny'. But, in truth there has been a halt in the march of celebrity deaths in recent weeks - so watch out.

The Local Pundit

Arsenal enjoy a unique position in English football by rejoicing in the displeasure that is the triumvirate of idiocy ingrained in pundits and former players Paul Merson, Martin Keown and Lee Dixon. The Gunners' pundits are national pundits, they're our pundits and there is no escape.

Paul Merson, who has made a fortune out of being a cheeky chappie, has had to reinvent himself in recent years with the onset of middle-age. In an image refresh that may yet provide the model for those ageing Geordie cheeky-lads, Ant & Dec, the self-styled 'Merse' has a new persona as the grumpy buffoon on Sky Sports.

Just last week 'Merse' cemented his spot at the top of the ageing jester-stakes by referring to Leicester striker Slimani as 'Salami'; and if this wasn't rehearsed in front of his bedroom mirror I'll eat my cat:

But, like most London-based national pundits, Merson takes little interest in the fortunes of Sunderland with a lazy attempt at analysing the match for Sky viewers:

This is a terrible game for Sunderland, who are struggling big time. I just can't see where that first win is going to come from and I really doubt it be against Arsenal this weekend.

Paul Predicts: 0-3

No sugar Sherlock.

The Fans

As you would expect, Arsenal fans have little interest in tomorrow's game other than an expectation of three points. The members of Gunners forum, are in full please-me mode, and if Arsene Wenger's side fail in their quest northwards some of them might even scweam:

And, if you thought the pre-match coverage of this game has all the flavour of an EFL-trophy tie, such is the irritation by which Arsenal view the obstacle that is Sunderland to their pre-destined three points, then perhaps this internet dude's presumption that we've already been relegated sums it up:

But, we'll leave the last word to this chap or chappess who appears to be fond of ladies in swim-wear:


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