Sunderland host the Gunners on the back of a 2-1 defeat to Reading, but they've managed to avoid losses in their last two home fixtures. The Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill could hand new signing Danny Graham his first starting place, while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is likely to wait on the fitness of Theo Walcott, who was substituted with an injury during last night's 2-1 victory for England against Brazil at Wembley. 

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could face a defensive headache when Barclays Premier League action resumes at Sunderland on Saturday.

The Gunners were already sweating on the fitness of captain Thomas Vermaelen's ankle injury before the players left for international duty, where fellow centre-half Laurent Koscielny limped off during France's defeat to Germany in Paris with a reported calf problem.

Should both men fail to recover in time for the trip to the Stadium of Light, then out-of-favor Sebastien Squillaci or Spanish 20-year-old Ignasi Miquel could have to step in to the heart of the defense alongside Per Mertesacker.

Francis Coquelin is another option, but the defensive-midfielder has missed a couple of matches with a hamstring strain.

Meanwhile, midfielders Tomas Rosicky (virus) and Aaron Ramsey, who returned from Wales camp with a calf injury, are also doubtful for the trip to the north-east.

Forward Gervinho is set to rejoin the squad following Ivory Coast's elimination from the African Nations Cup, but is expected to be given some recovery time before being thrown straight back into action as Arsenal look to maintain momentum from their four-match unbeaten run.

Nacho Monreal impressed on his debut after a deadline day move from Malaga. The Spain international looks set for a run in the side with England left-back Kieran Gibbs still sidelined by a thigh problem.



Sunderland, meanwhile, have been inconsistent throughout the 2012-13 campaign, winning back-to-back league games only once this season to leave them in 12th position.

Their home form of late has been rather solid, though, winning three of their past five, and only conceding to Tottenham in that run.

The only man to score from open play for Sunderland in their past four matches in all competitions was Steven Fletcher - and much of their season has been riding on the shoulders of the impressive former Wolves striker.

Fletcher is responsible for 10 of Sunderland's 28 league goals this season, and will be key to the Black Cats' winning hopes on the weekend.

Returning to O'Neill's squad will be Lee Cattermole (knee) and Carlos Cuellar (hamstring), while for the Londoners, Francis Coquelin (hamstring), Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) and Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) are all expected to return to the matchday squad.

Recent Form

Sunderland: L/D/W/W/L 

Arsenal: W/D/W/L/L

Probable Lineups

Sunderland: Mignolet (GK); N'Diaye, Bramble, O'Shea, Colback; Rose, Gardner, Vaughan, Johnson; Fletcher, Graham  

Arsenal:  Szczesny (GK); Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Diaby, Arteta, Wilshere; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott; Giroud

Where and When To Watch Online

Location: Stadium of Light (Sunderland)

Convert times here:


Sunderland 0-2 Arsenal

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