Only 1 game tonight what with the football season reaching it’s conclusion the games are now fewer and far between but Tonight’s game still has a lot of meaning for both sides. Arsenal take on Sunderland at The Emirates with both sides needing a point to reach their current objectives.
For Arsenal a point would secure 3rd place and automatic qualification for the Champions League next season whereas Sunderland need just a point to secure Premier League safety for another season and make it just a 2 horse race on Sunday in the battle to stay up.
Arsenal will assess defender Laurent Koscielny following an illness, while Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy are not fit enough to make their comebacks. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck remain out with respective hamstring and knee problems. With the F.A. Cup also approaching Arsene Wenger may use this opportunity to rest some of his key names tonight and give some game time to some of his fringe players.
As for Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt is unavailable after being forced off through injury at the weekend. Jordi Gomez and Wes Brown are also out but Jack Rodwell is back after recovering from a hamstring problem. Billy Jones, who was substituted against Leicester because of cramp, is also fit.
Dick Advocaat has yet to decide whether he will stay on as Sunderland Manager next season, no doubt the league that Sunderland play in will be the huge if not only factor in his decision. The fact that Sunderland have gone the last 4 games unbeaten could certainly help make Advocaat’s mind up but although they need just 1 more point the fixture computer hasn’t been particularly kind what with serving up Arsenal and then Chelsea away. Although if The Black Cats are beaten tonight they may take solace in the fact that Chelsea looked like they were already on holiday on Monday night.
The Gunners will be looking for a point and with that securing 3rd place and the added bonus of not having to qualify for the Champions League places. If they can secure 3rd (which if not tonight then they still have Sunday to do so) and retain the F.A Cup then the season must be qualified as a success but again Arsenal fans must look to Wenger’s refusal to purchase a Centre Back and Centre Midfielder in last Summer’s transfer window as the difference between grabbing 3rd and having a real crack at the Premier League title.
By the end of tonight either one or both clubs could have the destiny’s sorted for next season, will The Gunners be firing on all cylinders or will The Black Cats prove to be unlucky for the North London side. We’ll know the answer by 10PM tonight.