Expectations for both of these clubs are completely different ahead of the new season, with Arsenal aiming to make a charge for the title while Sunderland are hoping to record a top half finish. Arsene Wenger and Martin O’Neill have been pitted against each other on countless occasions although considering the transfer approaches from both clubs this summer, it is undoubtedly the Gunners who are at an advantage ahead of this game.
Even though the bulk of Arsenal’s summer has been focussed on the potential departure of Robin Van Persie, there have still been plenty of other things to smile about at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners have signed three hugely talented players in Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla and with one or two more set to follow, the club actually have a stronger squad than last year. Of course, there are still huge rumours surrounding Van Persie and the general consensus is that he won’t be at the club for much longer. Whatever his future, fans will be hoping that their side can start the campaign in positive fashion to at least put pressure on their title rivals.
Sunderland fans on the other hand must be quite concerned about their future, with Martin O’Neill struggling to bolster his squad over the course of the last few months. Despite underachieving with their bottom-half finish last term, the Black Cats have been exceptionally reserved in the transfer market having signed just one player. Admittedly, O’Neill has bids pending for others, yet with the new season just around the corner it does not appear as though the Stadium of Light outfit are as prepared as their fans would have hoped. With the club also approaching this clash on the back of a poor pre-season, it’s no surprise to see Arsenal as clear favourites for the game.
In terms of team news, the Gunners could have several absentees for the clash. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Laurent Koscielny are definitely out, while Wenger will make a late decision on Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla with the duo struggling with minor knocks. Sunderland also approach the game with several problems and Martin O’Neill is already preparing to be without Wes Brown, Phil Bardsley and David Vaughan as the trio sit on the treatment table. In other news, Stephane Sessegnon could also miss out as an ankle injury hinders him, meaning that Louis Saha could be set to make his debut for the Black Cats.
As for a tip, our prediction is going to be the obvious. Arsene Wenger has made some impressive signings this summer and with Sunderland barely strengthening, we think this is going to be a relatively straightforward win for the home side – 2-0 Gunners.