Premier League action returns after the short interlull as Arsenal head north to take on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.
Arsene Wenger will be looking to maintain our push for a top-four finish with a win this weekend and all three points could be vital come kick off if fourth-placed Tottenham are to open up a seven point gap with victory over Newcastle in the early Saturday kick off.
We currently sit sixth, just one point behind fifth placed Everton who don’t play until Sunday when they take on Manchester United at Old Trafford, so this weekend provides us with a great chance to take fifth spot and hopefully close the gap on the top-four.
Last time out we overcame a stubborn and unadventurous Stoke City team with a 78th minute Lukas Podolski free-kick collecting a deserved three-points to extend our unbeaten run to four games in all competitions.
The reverse fixture with Sunderland this season saw us held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at the Emirates on the opening day of the new campaign and the Stadium of Light has been notorious for low-scoring games this year so we might be in for another close encounter on Saturday.
Boss Arsene Wenger has something of a defensive headache ahead of the game with captain Thomas Vermaelen ruled out with an ankle injury while Laurent Koscielny faces a late fitness test after picking up a calf problem during France’s 2-1 loss to Germany in midweek.
If Kos is ruled out it means that either young Spaniard Iggy Miquel will come in to play alongside Per Mertesacker in central defence or Bacary Sagna may move into the middle with Carl Jenkinson coming in at right back.
Midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin are both available as is Theo Walcott after he looked to have picked up a slight foot problem with England on Wednesday.
Gervinho is back in England after the Ivory Coast were knocked out of the African Cup of Nations but he’s been given a week off so won’t feature. Kieran Gibbs is out for 4-6 weeks so new signing Nacho Monreal will continue at left back.
Sunderland winger James McClean will miss the game after injuring his ankle while away with the Republic of Ireland. Defender Carlos Cuellar may be back after recovering from a hamstring problem but Lee Cattermole is still out with a knee injury.
Despite our inconsistent form this season, I’m confident of all three points this weekend. Sunderland are a stubborn side but I’ve seen signs in recent weeks that Arsenal are starting to play the football we know they’re capable of. If we can just cut out the stupid mistakes at the back we’ll be flying. We also have an impressive record against the Black Cats having won 10 and lost just once in the last 18 Premier League outings, so we should be heading into the game full of confidence.
To see if my optimism was well placed, I headed over to Betegy.com and their prediction software has crunched the numbers and they support my view that we’ll win this game. They predict there is a 36% chance of an Arsenal win, 34% chance of a draw with a Sunderland win at 30%:
An Arsenal win is currently 10/11 with William Hill but if betting on the exact score is more your thing, Betegy data predicts there is a 33% chance the Gunners will win 2-1 which is currently a 115/2 shot with William Hill.
Why not head over to Betegy and see what all the fuss is about? It’s free to join and you’ll receive free and accurate predictions for games throughout Europe every week. They have an excellent success rate so far so why not give it a try?
What would your line up be and what’s your score prediction for the game? Get involved in the comments section below.