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Arsenal v Sunderland
Saturday 21 February 2009, Emirates Stadium
Arsenal drew 0-0 away to Tottenham in their last league outing, to make a run of 11 matches without a loss.
In their last 11 matches, Arsenal have won 5 and drawn 6 to earn a total of 21 points from a possible 33 on offer. The Gunners have scored 13 and conceded 7 goals in these matches, and they currently sit 5th in the league, five points behind 4th placed Chelsea.
Arsenal will be without Emmanuel Adebayor (hamstring), Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) and Cesc Fabregas (knee), although Abou Diaby and Mikael Silvestre may make their return from injury for this match.
Some late sad news for striker Eduardo, who fully recovered from his broken leg and put in an impressive 2 goal haul in Monday’s 4-0 FA Cup win over Cardiff. The Croatian international will now miss this match against Sunderland and be out for another two weeks after picking up a hamstring injury in the Cardiff game.
Good news, however, for Arsenal in that Emmanuel Eboue will not miss this match, as he served his one match suspension in the win against Cardiff. Further good news for Arsenal in that Theo Walcott is set to make his return after 3 months on the sideline from a dislocated shoulder, and could be fit for either this match or Arsenal’s first Champions League fixture against Roma on February 24.
Finally, Andrey Arshavin will make his Premier League debut if he plays in this match, after the Russian international was an unused substitute in Arsenal’s 0-0 draw against the Spurs two weeks ago
Sunderland beat Stoke City 2-0 at home in their last league outing, creating a run of three matches without a loss.
In their last five encounters, Sunderland have won two, drawn two and lost one, earning 8 points from a possible 15. The Black Cats have scored 6 goals and conceded 4 in these matches, and they currently sit 11th in the league.
Sunderland will be without Russell Anderson (knee) and Darren Ward (back), although Nyron Nosworthy, Paul McShane and Teemu Tainio could all make their return from injury. Both Phillip Bardsley and Andrew Galer are suspended, and so will miss the match against Arsenal.
Arsenal beat Sunderland 3-2 in their corresponding fixture last year, but the two sides drew 1-1 earlier this season at the Stadium of Light. The draw, however, came at a time when Arsenal’s form was anything but solid, but since then the Gunners have improved and are showing a more consistent output in their performances.
The loss of striker Emmanuel Adebayor will undoubtedly be a big blow for Arsenal’s attacking capabilities, but the inclusion of Arshavin in the squad could largely mitigate this. Also, Robin van Persie should provide plenty of firepower up front for the Gunners, as the 25-year-old Dutch international has been in impressive form as of late.
Arsenal are just five points behind 4th placed Chelsea, and with the faltering Blues facing an in-form Aston Villa away from home, the gap between the two teams could be reduced to just two points if Arsenal were to win this match and Chelsea lose theirs. The chance to edge closer to the top four and a Champions League berth will provide an extra incentive for the Gunners to win this match.
Arsenal’s home record this season has been impressive, and after three consecutive league draws (two of which came away from home), the Gunners will be looking to post a much-needed victory at the Emirates Stadium, as they go into this encounter as firm favourites.
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