4 Arsenal players back for tricky trip to Sunderland

While the world continues to argue over Thierry Henry’s ball we, quite wonderfully, have an Arsenal game to look forward to.

The International Break finished up on Wednesday night and since then the boys have been returning home from various parts of the world to prepare for tomorrow afternoon’s tricky tie away to Sunderland.

Sitting in 8th place and with a win over Liverpool and a 2-2 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford under their belt, Sunderland will provide a stern test for an Arsenal team that will be without a host of first team players. Robin van Persie is the highest profile absentee after damaging his ankle playing for Holland midweek and heads a lengthy list that includes Nicklas Bendtner, Gael Clichy, Abou Diaby, Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and long-term casualty Johan Djourou.

The good news is that Denilson (who is fit again after nine weeks out), Carlos Vela, Lukasz Fabianski and Armand Traore are all available. I don’t expect any of them to start against Sunderland but it is nice to have them back nonetheless, particularly Denilson and Vela who may be called upon regularly in the next month or two.

It’s always difficult to predict a starting team after an international break but on the two previous occasions that they have occurred this season Arsene Wenger has favoured playing a fresher team over his absolute best players. Despite the need for our best attackers on the pitch I’d be somewhat surprised to see Andrey Arshavin start given the physical and emotional blow he has taken captaining Russia over the past week. Likewise Emmanuel Eboue may be favoured over Bacary Sagna after the Frenchman’s grueling week although that change could rule out the possibility of the Ivorian stepping in for Gibbs at left back.

All things considered I suggest the manager will opt for a team consisting of Manuel Almunia in goals, William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen in the centre of defence and Sagna and Eboue starting on the right and left respectively. The midfield will likely consist of Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Aaron Ramsey while Eduardo should start as the main striker with support on the wings from Samir Nasri and Tomas Rosicky. Arshavin may well start, of course, but I just have a feeling the manager might give him something of a rest after a tough week.

As you can see above we certainly have a team capable of beating Sunderland away and I am expecting us to do so to keep the pressure on Chelsea at the top. Three points at the Stadium of Light would be a brilliant outcome and certainly won’t come easy but after a tiring couple of weeks for all involved it would provide the ideal warm-up for what will be a spectacular game at the Emirates a week later. One game at a time though.

My word it’s good to have Arsenal back. Let’s hope they don’t let us down

Have your say on Arsenal v Sunderland by leaving a comment.

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34 Responses to “4 Arsenal players back for tricky trip to Sunderland”

  1. Hatta
    November 20, 2009 at 7:03 pm #

    Maybe Song won’t start. He is on 4 yellow cards and 1 more would put him out of the game next week with chelsea. Song would be very important for the chelsea game. Maybe the midfield will have fabregas, ramsey and denilson. Or fabregas, ramsey and eboue, with silvestre at left back. I would predict the latter.

  2. Ricky
    November 20, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    Song is one yellow card away from getting his fifth and missing the next game against chelsea….Will AW take the risk of playing him ?

  3. Panda
    November 20, 2009 at 7:08 pm #

    Panda’s prediction is that Traore will start at left back. And Denilson, Ramsey and Cesc in Midfield.

  4. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    November 20, 2009 at 7:10 pm #

    @ Hatta/Ricky – I failed to mention that, thanks for picking it up. I don’t think it will stop Song playing. We need to beat Sunderland as much as we need to beat Chelsea and I think Song is a smart enough player to give away any needless bookings. He’ll only foul if he absolutely has to.

  5. billi
    November 20, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    feels good to hear something of Arsenal work again, kind of regularity or familarity I reckon, return to all day work or something like that, football mood was kind of gloom in Germany recently, have to lift the spirits……..

  6. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    November 20, 2009 at 7:20 pm #

    @ Panda – You really think that Denilson will start after nine weeks out and absolutely no game time? I can’t see it happening. We’ll see though…

  7. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    November 20, 2009 at 7:21 pm #

    @ billi – I know what you mean about familiarity although I did enjoy a little break. How are things at home? Enke still making the news?

  8. Panda
    November 20, 2009 at 7:34 pm #

    @ Andy – I don’t think he’d be in the squad if he wasn’t match-fit. There’s been the interlull, we’ll see what happens, maybe Song will play the first half and Denilson take over after the half.

  9. billi
    November 20, 2009 at 8:39 pm #

    @Andy – well…. not really making the news, the atmosphere on last wednesday was really strange, silent, step by step to normal football, but you can’t throw away your thoughts immediately, I just got a glimpse of Enkes personality during a film of him shown before the match, I can’t realize how hard it must be for his wife to lose him, tomorrow the players of Germans first Bundesliga will wear a black ribbon again, but I think it won’t affect the atmosphere like it has with the national team despite of Hannover of course, people will be enthousiastic again, but there is the idea of an ‘Enke donation’ which I like, will keep his name alive, will take some positive emotions on this tragedy and a kind of appeal for everyone to reflect the important things of life and control your own behaviour, I hope so at least, and I hope his wife will cope with that situation, and again: it was really hard for the German nationl team to play under these circumstances, to lose someone close in this way is hard to deal with, on the other hand it causes a close solidarity feeling I think, but of course the world will not change, things are returning to the old soon, but nonetheless for me this tragedy is a kind of human wake-up call, at least a call and then you continue

  10. seddy
    November 20, 2009 at 9:14 pm #

    what happened with enke was really sad!
    these 2 weeks were something, i tell you!
    controversies all around and most of them sorrounding the gunners. the rvp injury, the henry handball, and the william gallas classic !!
    Robert pires ashamed of henry and the list goes on ..

    these are the two games in my opinion where our season will be decided, i wouldnt start arshavin tomorrow, bring him after 60 minutes or so, that is if we need him after that, give him good rest if we are winning it easily,
    denilson and vela should play in my opinion, vela could be playing on the right flank where as nasri on the left.
    fabregas, song and rosicky in mids, and verma at lb with senderos in the centre!

    beware of bent and company though.

  11. Firstlady
    November 20, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    There is no need for us to worry of what might be a week from now. Song should play coz the 3 points at the stadium of light are as important if not more as those at Emirates against Chelsea.
    I hope we ace it tomorrow. it will psyche us up for Chelsea’s game.

  12. Firstlady
    November 20, 2009 at 9:23 pm #

    I have a feeling Silvestre might play leftback tomorrow.

    My ideal team would be
    Sagna,Gallas,Varm,Silvestre
    Nasri,Song,Fabrigas, Rosicky, Vela and Eduardo. Subs Denilson, Arshavin,Traore, Senderos

  13. Hatta
    November 20, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    My predicted line up is:
    almunia
    sagna gallas vermalaen silvestre
    eboue ramsey fabregas
    nasri eduardo rosicky

    subs: mannone, arshavin, senderos, traore, watt, vela, denilson

  14. Solomon Kebede
    November 20, 2009 at 9:56 pm #

    Dear Arsenal FC Blog,

    It is a good news that 4 Arsenal players are atleast ready for Sunderland’s game. I am also thinking that if Song play on the Saterday much, he already has 4 yellow cards. What do you think? It is good not to include him on the saterday much.

    Any way good luck for Arsenal team.

    Best wishes.

  15. walter
    November 20, 2009 at 10:04 pm #

    Henry David Thoreau, an American author became famous for known for ‘Walden’, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. He once quoted, “That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.” Another philosopher has also stated, “Man reaps the seed that he sows”. The impact of these words is of limited effectiveness; for their lives are not the ideal models of such noble statements. More importantly, they are not blessed with the association of a God-realised Sadhu, the greatest attainment of all…

  16. Steve-O
    November 20, 2009 at 10:44 pm #

    I like the look of the starting team you’ve proposed Hatta. I think it will be pretty close to the mark. I totally agree that this game is even more important than the Chelsea result.

    My 2 cents worth on the Henry conspiracy is that this game has exposed the darker side of football where the boundary between sport and politics has become blurred. In my opinion, FIFA would have preferred France to be in the world cup and the referee obliged.

    Walter, what on earth are you on about mate??

  17. shambogunner
    November 20, 2009 at 11:04 pm #

    if we can beat sunderland this weekend we truly will hav proven ourselves as genuine contenders…they are moving in the right direction with the manager and a board whos backs him financially they hav some very good players in turner,cana,bent,reid,jones and richardson,they hav a great mix and their form has been excellent of late,add this to the fact most of them are fresh and wel rested and we really hav a game on our hands,but i hope edu,nasri,rosicky and the incoming eboue,traore and ramsey will be out to impress and stake claim to a regular spot..i would be delighted with a 1-0
    sagna should be rested as IMO he and lloris were the reason france made it to extra time wed night and after playin 120 mins and giving his all he needs a few days,anyway manu eboue is a great player to fill in there
    it would be another great weeekend to pick up 3pts with city playin liverpool and put some more daylight between ourselves and the pretenders

  18. Shane
    November 20, 2009 at 11:07 pm #

    Walter, good literary knowledge. Sylvestre and denilson are both not match fit. And sylvestre is too slow. I would take the risk and go traore. As for mid. We have Ramsey. But no one who can play dm. Without diabu who is not good enough as is.

  19. radads
    November 20, 2009 at 11:34 pm #

    Sunderland play physical game, there might be a strong possiblity for Song getting another card,he s better off to stay rested IMO.
    My Line up:
    ———-Almunia————
    Eboue–Gallas-Vermalen-Sylli
    ———Deni- Ramsey—
    ————-Fab————-
    Nasri——-Dudu—–Rosicky(Arsha)

  20. lexx
    November 20, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    wat a suprise………..walcott is in the squad…thats good news!

  21. SOBIN THE GOONER
    November 21, 2009 at 12:04 am #

    Iam very much confident that GUNNERS will thrash sunderland.
    COME ON GUNNERS………
    “IN ARSENE WE TRUST”

  22. Dante
    November 21, 2009 at 12:23 am #

    Walcott is back!!!

  23. Hatta
    November 21, 2009 at 12:41 am #

    in view of the fact that Walcott is back, my predicted line up will be:

    almunia
    sagna gallas vermalaen silvestre
    eboue ramsey fabregas
    nasri eduardo rosicky

    subs: mannone, arshavin, senderos, traore, walcott, vela, denilson

  24. Hatta
    November 21, 2009 at 12:43 am #

    sorry i forgot Song on the bench. perhaps traore won’t be on the bench.

  25. theicehammer
    November 21, 2009 at 1:29 am #

    Hi fans, im back. Been working very hard of late and am having to attend two nights a wk at college. The hammers are not yet in administration but soon will be. Hopefully we can pick up another point somewhere. Its good to see Arsene’s men in such fine form, unfortunately the injuries have hit them again as ususl. I can see the game with Sunderland ending @ 1 each which wont b the end of the world considering. Good 2 c Walcott back 4 its about time he got some luck and a run in play. Adding to that i think Traore is a very very good player, infact i think he has more power in his game than Gibb who is still maturing. If Traore was English he would start before Gibb for sure. Silvestre has experience but is not in their class and infact his bettr suted in the center half position if any. Wenger should sell Traore to us if he wont play him. Good wk end for all and good luck. PS you boys must stand up for terry henry. What would the english fans say if it was Roney who did the same. Its all bull.

  26. shottagunner
    November 21, 2009 at 1:56 am #

    Despite all the bad news coming out of the Emirates recently regarding injuries, and the numbers amount to a whole side, there has been some good news also.

    Several players have signed new contracts at the club, the latest being Eduardo. Now forgive me if I’m wrong but I’m sure that I read somewhere that Eduardo was disillusioned at Arsenal because we were hesitating to offer him a new long-term deal. This was Sunday. What happened today then? Someones ‘sources’ were wrong. As usual.

    It’s a healthy sign to see players like Eduardo and Vela signing new long-term deals at the Arsenal but there is one other player I hope we can persuade to sign a deal as well. William Gallas.

    Gallas’ current contract expires next summer. This means he can walk away from Arsenal for nothing at the end of his deal and he can talk to clubs from January about discussing a contract with them. I really hope that this doesn’t happen.

    Over the years we have lost players this way and every time it has been very frustrating to see. If Gallas runs down his contract and leaves then surely Arsene Wenger and Arsenal must begin to question the way they handle negotiations in the future.

    We cannot allow Gallas to leave the way Edu and Mathieu Flamini did because it means we haven’t learnt from previous lessons in the past. Personally I think that letting players get into the final year of their contracts is criminal. It gives the player the power simply because of the Bosman ruling.

    Regardless of this, the reason I want Gallas to sign a new deal is not to prove that Arsenal have learnt their lessons from the past but because I rate Gallas as one of the best defenders in the world and I believe that Arsenal are stronger with him than without him.

    He may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he is some player. People have questioned his mentality in the past, well I believe he has answered his critics in the best way. By performing on the pitch.

    Since being stripped of the captaincy Gallas has been the ultimate professional and I reckon that he deserves a huge amount of credit for that. Many said he would spit his dummy out and throw his toys out of his pram, well he has shut those people up!

    We are seeing the best of Gallas now. This new look Arsenal side and the partnership he has created with Vermaelen has revitalised him. I hope we can get him to sign a new deal and in the future start negotiating new contracts with players a little earlier than in their last year!

  27. Preencemeka
    November 21, 2009 at 2:49 am #

    @ icehammer i was wondering where you’d gone. Anyways, nice to have you back and hope to see walcott and vela play 2morrow

  28. seddy
    November 21, 2009 at 2:59 am #

    walcott is back!
    how i wish we could have
    almunia
    eboue senderos gallas verma

    nasri/rosicky fabregas song

    walcott eduardo vela/arshavin

  29. shambogunner
    November 21, 2009 at 4:50 am #

    welcome back icehammer
    i dont think henry deserves defending and even if he did hes barcas player at the mo…

  30. Medeski
    November 21, 2009 at 5:56 am #

    I’m worried about Song’s cards but I think Arsene has to start him. Arsenal need the 3 points and Sunderland have a decent record at home. We’re lucky they don’t have K. Jones available. I would not be surprised to see Denilson replace him around the 65th minute (if not earlier, depending on the score).

  31. chris Agazi.
    November 21, 2009 at 7:09 am #

    hope every thing goes well with the gunners squad come satuday, and henry’s case closed!

  32. chris Agazi.
    November 21, 2009 at 7:24 am #

    wish 2 see walcott start the of ebue and song at the centre back, cesc, denilson, ramsy or vela in the midfild, not forgeting the defence wth the likes of almunia, gallas,vemaelen, sagna i think the sky will be our limite. But the most important game is that against chelsea, we need tighten up our game so that the maturity will be complete.

  33. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    November 21, 2009 at 7:45 am #

    Great to see Walcott back in the squad, although I doubt he’ll start. We could have some real punch off of the bench towards the end if the game is tight.

    COME ON ARSENAL!!!

  34. chief
    November 21, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    The match is indeed gona be a tricky test of LIfe without Robin Van Persie but I still believe we have the team which can win against Sunderland. What the team need right now is the ability to remain with positive attitude towards winning against any team other wise they have the abilty and potential to do so.

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