These two sides will be exceptionally familiar with each other, after this fixture was played in the league only five days ago. A last minute Thierry Henry winner allowed Arsenal to triumph in that game, but the FA Cup constantly brings surprises and there’s no doubt that Sunderland will be eager to get revenge.
Sunderland’s defeat to the Gunners actually shocked a lot of people, after Martin O’Neill’s side had put together a sterling run over the past few months. Prior to that defeat, the Stadium of Light outfit had lost just once out of their last eleven games, which allowed them to make a big rise up the table as they currently sit in 9th. Unfortunately, with ten points separating them from 5th position it would be a big ask for them to achieve anything other than a standard mid-table finish. Bearing this in mind, Martin O’Neill will be desperate to try and push his Black Cats side all the way in this competition and try and net the club their first FA Cup trophy since 1973.
However, opponents Arsenal certainly won’t make it easy. While Arsene Wenger’s men know that they still have a big task on their hands to guarantee a top four position for next season, that is their only goal as it now looks as though they are almost certainly out of the Champions League competition this term. The Gunners travelled to Italy with high hopes during the week, only to come back with their tails between their legs after being humbled 4-0 by AC Milan. That appears to have put an end to any Champions League hopes the club had, meaning that some of those efforts should be shifted towards this competition. On a more positive note, the Gunners have performed well in domestic competitions over recent weeks, having won three and drawn one of their last four.
It’s mixed news for Sunderland ahead of this game, with Martin O’Neill first set to be without Nicklas Bendtner and David Vaughan as ineligibility and injury hinder the duo respectively. On a more positive note, Lee Cattermole could start after successfully overcoming a hamstring problem. Arsenal meanwhile were dealt a blow this week after defender Per Mertesacker was ruled out for the foreseeable future. Elsewhere, Laurent Koscielny will not play due to a knee issue, but Gervinho and Kieran Gibbs are both available again.
As for a prediction, our tip is going to be a Sunderland victory this time. The Black Cats were dreadfully unlucky not to pick up a point in their last game against Arsenal and with the Gunners on something of a downer following that Champions League loss, we expect Sunderland to triumph with a narrow 3-2 win.