Good day from wherever good place you’re reading this. After just a point from four league games ended with an emphatic win last weekend, the lads will be looking to build on that performance in their trip to face Sunderland. First to some somewhat bad news.
King Henry will not be extending his loan spell, according to New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe. It’s no secret Arsene wants him to stay for 2 more weeks, but Bulls coach has indicated that Titi will return to the States on 17th February as originally planned. Said he:
“When I spoke to him [Henry], he told me that he was 100 per cent coming back on February 17,” said Backe. “What I know, it’s only rumours. I haven’t heard anything from them about extending the loan.”
The news will definitely come as a sucker punch to Wenger’s plans and will leave most gooners very sad. Tit has been wonderful for us in his short spell, we can only thank NYRB for giving him up in the first place and wish him luck.
Now to the game this weekend. The Black Cats have most usually proved a stubborn opposition for us. We only edged this season’s reverse fixture; Seb Larsson’s free-kick remains stunning, and now, with Martin O’Neil at the helm, Saturday’s match at the Stadium of Light may just be as tough.
O’Neil will however be without a host of injured absentees including Lee Cattermole, David Vaughan and Titus Bramble along with Craig Gordon, Matthew Kilgallon and Wes Brown who are out on the long-term. Oh, our dear on loan top marksman Nicklas Bendtner’s out as well.
Then there’s the bit of getting his team ready for us days after needing extra time to edge local rivals Middesbrough and set up a Fifth Round date with us next weekend in the FA Cup. All that’s the good part for us for on the flip side there’s the presence of Larsson, Stephan Sessegnon and Frazier Campbell to deal with along with the fact that we have not won at Sunderland since October 2007 when Robin van Persie bagged a double in a 3-2 victory.
Speaking of, van Persie has 22 goals already and talks of etching his name on the records have started brewing but as the captain rightly would, we’ll focus on the match instead.
Alongside him, Alex Song and Mikel Arteta are sure to start. I’d like to see Bacary Sagna start this one too as well as Tomas Rosicky in midfield though gut feeling says we may see the return of Ramsey.
Possible XI: Szczesny. Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen. Arteta, Song, Ramsey. AOC, Walcott, van Persie.
The manager says Chamakh’s at “normal fitness” level and could make the bench for this, sorry Park. And on the injury front, Kieran Gibbs is not far from full fitness as well as Carl Jenkinson. Good to have a near fully fit squad to pick from with games in the Cup and Chmpions League coming up.
Wenger has also praised African duo Song and Gervinho, the former for his marked improvement in the passing department and attacking mentality which has seen him provide seven assists in all competitions so far; second behind Walcott with eight assists.
Gervinho gets le Boss’ praise after his great solo effort proved enough for Ivory Coast to reach the Africa Nations Cup final. Wenger was partucularly pleased with Eddy’s composure in finishing and hopes it boosts his confidence playing for club and country.
A win this Saturday will further boost our confidence as well, especially so coming on away grounds against an organised team as Sunderland. I’m thinking 1-0 to the Cannon.
What do you think? See you in the comments…