Arsenal travel to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland in a Barclays Premier League fixture scheduled for Saturday, 14 September. After an opening day defeat to Aston Villa, the Gunners produced two victories to go into the game on six points. Arsene Wenger's team will be particularly buoyed by their 1-0 victory over north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in their last game. Olivier Giroud grabbed the goal as the Gunners dismissed all talks of crises at the club.
Sunderland have had an abysmal start to the season, picking up only one point in their first three games. Their 3-1 loss to relegation candidates Crystal Palace will concern Sunderland fans and has increased pressure on Paolo Di Canio.
In response to the abject start of the season, Di Canio publicly berated his players for the mistakes made, prompting further questioning of his managerial tactics from the media. Defender John O'Shea however, insisted that the comments are a reflection of the Italians passion for football.
"Getting criticised is one of those things, and that is his style of management," O'Shea was quoted as saying by ESPN. "The criticism does not bother me in the slightest. It is water off a duck's back to someone like me. Because he is such a passionate man, everything he does is getting hyped up."
Saturday's game could see the debut of Arsenal's star signing Mesut Ozil. The German arrived at the Emirates Stadium after a £42.5 million transfer on deadline day. In fact, Ozil's transfer alleviated all criticism towards Wenger's lack of activity in the transfer market this summer.
"I look forward to playing in this league - I watched so many Premier League games," Ozil was quoted as saying in Daily Mail. "Of course, its very physical, it's a man's sport, and I want to prove myself in England. I also played in Bundesliga and Spain and proved myself."
Despite the season being in its early stages, Arsenal are undergoing an injury crisis. Following the thigh injury of Thomas Rosicky while on international duty, Ozil is likely to start the game without much training with his new teammates. The other injuries include Lukas Podolski (hamstring), Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (knee), Mikel Arteta (thigh), Thomas Vermaelen (back) and Abou Diaby (ACL). Thankfully for Wenger, Theo Walcott has recovered from an ankle problem that he picked up in England's 0-0 with Ukraine.
Sunderland could be deputising their new acquisition Fabio Borini as well. The Italian arrived from Liverpool on a season-long loan deal. Fellow striker Steven Fletcher has recovered from injury and should also feature. Like Arsenal, Sunderland will also be missing several key players due to injuries, most notably John O'Shea (ankle) and Lee Cattermole (knee). Wes Brown (knee) Craig Gardner (groin) and Phil Bardsley (ankle) are also unavailable.
Where to Watch
Kick-off is at 7:30 pm IST (Saturday, September 14) and live coverage is available on Star Sports 2.