Fri, Mar 4, 9:07am by Kevin Pitstock
This game is clearly vital for Arsenal in the title race, as they now are within tantalisingly close range of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League. The gap is down to four points, with Arsenal having a game in hand and a meeting with United still to come. They also crave success after their Carling Cup final defeat. As for Sunderland, they are threatening to fall away after a very good run up to Christmas. They could even be overtaken by little loved neighbours Newcastle unless they can turn things round.
Arsenal quickly restored some morale after getting beaten by Birmingham City as they spanked Leyton Orient 5-0 in the FA Cup. They really did take apart the side two divisions below and they did so while being able to rest some key players and introduce some youngsters. There was also a goal for Marouane Chamakh, his first of the year. However, Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas remain sidelined through injury, as does Belgian centre-back Thomas Vermaelen, Theo Walcott and Lukasz Fabianski. It’s also a big decision as to whether or not to play Wojciech Szczezny, after his mistake at Wembley. Arsenal had looked a little vulnerable earlier in the season at home, but they still have 10 wins in 14 league games at the Emirates. Arsenal do seem to remain inconsistent, capable of throwing in wins over Everton and Stoke with their bizarre draw at Newcastle and that League Cup final defeat.
Injuries look to be finally hurting for Sunderland as they slip down the table having been knocking on the door for a European place for the first half of the season. They have now lost their last four Premier League games, conceding 11 goals. Manager Steve Bruce keeps laments his side “not doing the basics” defensively in games, yet he seems unable to correct these errors. It is easy to be more sympathetic when you see an injury list that comprises of Danny Welbeck, Lee Cattermole, Michael Turner, Fraiser Campbell and David Meyler all sidelined. Cattermole and Turner, in particular, are important, combative players. They can take consolation from beating Arsenal at home earlier in the season, through a late goal from the now departed Darren Bent.
ARSENAL v SUNDERLAND BEST BET AND PREDICTION
With Sunderland’s form it is difficult to look past an Arsenal win, and we like the look of a controlled 2-0 victory for the Gunners. Arsenal often strike early, so go for them to be leading at half-time at $1.91 with IAS Bet.
Back Arsenal to lead at half time at $1.91 with IAS Bet!
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