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Match Preview: Arsenal (A) - Will SAFC's hopeless players disgust themselves further?

Sunderland travel to North London this evening where they face the tricky task of taking on an Arsenal side battling for Champion’s League football. Will the team be able to restore some pride, or will Arsenal swat them aside?

Sunderland v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

From the brief flurries of momentum generated in the away win to Hull less than 10 days ago, the supporter’s morale has hit rock bottom again in the wake of Saturday’s disappointing performance at home to Swansea. Tonight we face Arsenal who remain in the hunt for 4th place in the table, and the lucrative financial windfall gained in the process - it’s going to be a long night, isn’t it?

So many things went wrong at the weekend, and despite defending his team initially, David Moyes has since reviewed data of the player’s performances and agreed that they simply weren’t good enough against Swansea - who by the way secured their Premier League status thanks to the weekend’s results.

On reflection, yes. I was massively disappointed with the overall performance, and I hadn’t seen it in other games, I really hadn’t, if I had I’d have been the first to say it.

I’m also privvy, to be able to look at the physical output etc, so I know it wasn’t good enough.

Moyes went on to concede that this season’s results simply haven’t been good enough, and once more argued that the playing staff need to be overhauled rather than making wholesale changes to coaching staff - himself included.

I think on Saturday, if you were a supporter you would have seen that what has been said all season has probably been right. In case you had any doubts, you would have seen that there definitely needs to be big changes on the field.

That's something I think most supporters will have picked up on.

I take responsibility, I am the manager, I put the team out, but there also comes a point where the players have to show it.

Could Moyes potentially shake things up tonight as he tries to rekindle some support from the fans? Unlikely in all honest, especially considering the Under-23’s have a European final at the SoL on Wednesday. Unfortunately David Moyes will more than likely use the same side so guilty of so much ineptitude this season against Arsenal this evening.

Sunderland v Swansea City - Premier League
Is Moyes right that the players have let the club down as much as he has?
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Tactically Moyes could change a thing or two, however, and this could be an opportunity to experiment ahead of next season.

Have the Lads really looked like they’ve had a plan of action all season? It’s been difficult to fathom just what exactly their strategy has been other than using Anichebe as a wide-left target man back in November. This is an issue Moyes needs to solve as soon as possible if he is to stay beyond this season, and these following two games might give him food for thought, as well as identifying areas that need to be strengthened in the summer.

Although these final games won’t provide solace in the wake of a purely dismal campaign, Moyes mentioned the fact that these games will allow players to put themselves in the shop window - especially those who think that they’re better than Championship standard:

They all think they’re good enough to do so, I think a lot of them think that the grass is greener, so if the grass is greener then they need to show what they can do. If anyone was watching on Saturday they might say no.

It’s a bit odd talking about players putting themselves in the shop window, but he isn’t wrong. Perhaps they will show some desire and girt, or perhaps players given the chance to impress will stake a claim for regular football next season. Who knows?

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League
Could someone like Papy Djilobodji be given a chance to impress?
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Whether the Lads will get themselves motivated for the upcoming games is a question that remains to be seen, but for the travelling fans - who will inhabit the capital in great numbers once again - passion and pride will be the minimum of what is expected.

It’s said often, but the travelling lads and lasses deserve so much more from this team. Time and time again, they follow the club in incredible numbers up and down the country only to be presented with tripe. Joyful moments are few and far between, but whatever the odds they’re constantly in fine voice.

Here’s to the travelling contingent, hopefully next season brings better fortune.

Team News

Moyes will have to contend with new injuries to the squad - especially considering Victor Anichebe and Jason Denayer were removed from action this past weekend. Moyes told the press recently that:

I’m more concerned that I’ve now got others who are saying they’re injured as well, but we will go there and be committed. It might be that we have to take the kids with us to Arsenal but that’s not a problem.

George Honeyman, Donald Love and Lynden Gooch are all young enough to play in the Under-23 final, and then the next group is Maja, Asoro and Embleton.

If we have to take them to Arsenal and use them we will do but obviously we'd like to keep them for the game on Wednesday night. It might be that we have to take the kids with us to Arsenal but that’s not a problem.

I really hope he doesn’t have to risk using youngsters who have the chance of playing in a European final the day after, but then again sometimes needs must.


Predicted XI: Pickford, Jones, Kone, O’Shea, Manquillo, Ndong, Gibson, Larsson, Borini, Khazri, Defoe.

Score Prediction: Arsenal need a win, and we know we’re down already. I can’t see anything other than a big win for the Gunners, but you never know! Perhaps the players will be desperate to attract potential suitors, and will play out of their skins.

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