Sunderland preview: big game for BFG, Miguel and Rosicky to start? Plus Line-up


I have been once to the Stadium of Light, back in Nov 2009. It was a miserably cold day and we got beaten by a single goal scored by Darren Bent. We did not play well, but did not deserve to lose either; often the faith of away playing teams who do not take their chances. A game best forgotten.

Today’s trip to the fine Stadium of Light (although in Newcastle the ‘L’ is pronounced as ‘Sh’) will be another big test for our team. Sunderland are positioned around mid-table and have nothing to play for anymore, other than getting above 40 points as soon as possible. So, with the visit of The Arsenal, we can expect the Black Cats to approach the game with a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude, and play well above their normal level of home performances. I also expect them to get stuck in and make it a physical battle.

If we are not up for this game, we will end up dropping points; despite our fantastic record against the Black Cats. Playing an away game after an (mini) International break is also far from ideal, and I am more hoping for three points than banking on it. 😕

The BFG will have bad memories from his last trip to Sunderland, caused by the season-ending injury he obtained there about this time last year. He also played for Germany on Wednesday and fatigue might make him extra vulnerable. I will keep a close eye on Per and see how he will perform: we will need him to play at his best today.

With Vermaelen out and Koz a doubt, Arsenal have no other option than to play the BFG, and we could also see Miguel start today. Clearly, with Arsene allowing Djourou to go out on loan for the rest of the season, he must feel it is time to give Miguel more playing time, and unless Koz has recovered enough from his mid-week knock – he also started for his national team – I reckon we will start with two Spanish defenders for the first time in our history (?).

The big question is whether Jack should start again, after playing a whole match against Brazil. We cannot afford to drop points, but there is also our big match against Bayern in 10 days time. Jack fully commits himself physically and with midfielders like Gardner, Vaughan and (possibly) Cattermole, he will find strong, physical resistance, and there is not an insignificant risk of Jack picking up an injury today. Wenger will have to make a big call.

Luckily, Arteta is back and did not play mid-week, and Diaby and Rosicky are also available. So, I reckon both Santi and Jack will start on the bench today, and together with the Ox they are likely to play the last 20-25 minutes of the game, if needed.

Predicted Line-up


Some games deserve a big preview, but today is all about attitude, desire, work-rate and winning the physical battle. If Arsenal put in a proper, fully committed shift our qualities should get us through. Let’s hope, our players will do us proud today.


Written by: Total Arsenal

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84 Responses to Sunderland preview: big game for BFG, Miguel and Rosicky to start? Plus Line-up

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Oz, PPP – we need your UMF predictions! 🙂

  2. Prince-Purrfect-Poldi says:

    Hi Total, how are you champ?

    Sorry, not been about lately… been a bad couple of weeks. 😦

    @ VCC, my predictions are-

    Spudz v Barcodes = draw
    Naarich v Fham = away win
    boringLand v the Arsenal = away win
    Soton v Shitty = away win
    Villains v Wham = draw
    Manure v Toffee = draw

    Cheers Vcc, hope your well. Now, off to read the post, be back 🙂

  3. Prince-Purrfect-Poldi says:

    Well said Total. I find Sunderland to be the one of the boring teams in the EPL and would be happy to walk away from the game with a simple ‘JOB DONE’, and no injuries as i worry about their pitch… it looks like a cow grazing field.

    Didnt realise that ‘the Boss’ got a knock during the internationals? In regards to Santi and Jack, i can see maybe one getting a rest, but i feel that under Wenger, one of the two will always start when fit. I would really like to see Rosa.. whats with him?

    Usually at this stage of the season it is the relegation teams and teams playing for the title that will put the extra shift in so i wouldnt normally expect any danger from the likes of a mid table club as our class should prevail as you have said, but Martin O Neil is one smug b**stard who will try to get one over Wenger whenever he can…… NOT today though!

    Up the Arse!!

  4. JM says:

    Out injured: Vermaelen, Gibbs, Fabianski, Coquelin
    Rested: Gervinho
    Doubts: Koscielny

    My preferred line-up:

    Szczesny (GK), Monreal (LB), Koscielny/Miquel (L-CB), Mertesacker (R-CB), Sagna(RB)
    Arteta (L-CM), Diaby (R-CM), Wilshere (C-AM), AoC (L-AM/Winger), Walcott (R-AM/Winger/forward), Giroud (CF)

    Subs: Mannone, Jenkinson, (Miquel)/Santos, Ramsey, Cazorla(long flight back from Doha-Qatar), Rosicky, Podolski

    Key players for Sunderland:
    Steven Fletcher (10 goals 1 assist), Simon Mignolet (their GK previously linked with us), their defence (Rose, O’Shea, Gardner, Cuellar/Bramble), their main assist man (Adam Johnson with 4 goals & 4 assists) & Colback (86.7% pass success rate)

    Out Injured: James McClean, Lee Cattermole, Wes Brown
    Doubt: Carlos Cuellar

  5. Prince-Purrfect-Poldi says:

    JM, i think Danny Graham will debut at the stadium of shite. I also believe if we keep Fletcher and Graham quiet we should over-run the likes of Johnson and Sessegnon in midfield, and our fire power should be too stong.

    Anyone know who the ref is?

  6. VCC says:

    Good Morning all. Hi PPP, thank you for your well wishes. I’m fine thank you, have had a great week celebrating my Daughters 25th birthday.

    I am still waiting for Oz’s entry into he UMF 1 and a volunteer to represent Red Arse this week.

    I will draw selections from a bowl for both the above in case I don’t get a reply before KO today.

    Oz, if your around later is there any chance you can post a link for todays game please (I love you XXX)

    Odds for this week.
    VCC…………… 53-1

    Off to read todays post.


  7. VCC says:

    Nice pre match Total.

    I am apprehensive about today’s game. Fatigue will play a part with the end result.

    I think Wenger will play Ramsey as he has been rested. Jack needs a rest as we need him fit and well for the Champions league match coming up.

  8. Gerry says:

    I think we can all agree that it isn’t going to be pretty up there, and what team is cobbled together should still be enough for 3 points … probably by the only goal?

    It is always dangerous to assume too much about players reported injured ‘and likely to miss out’. Quite often they managed to turn out anyway?

    But assuming we are without Kos and TV5, then two or three options are doing the rounds: Sagna, Miquel, and Diaby. Of those, only Miquel would be in his ideal position, and has had at least one game since returning from injury. The Sagna alternative would not surprise, as he too, played midweek, so a move to left of the centre pairing would be less physically demanding? Better he on that side than moving Per over. If Miquel starts, then that might be the reverse sub position? Jenks would obviously come in at RB, so no problem on that score.

    I see the Arteta/Diaby as the double DM staying put, so if Wilshere is rested then I see Cazorla starting, and Rosicky the sub.

    Up front I would think it might be wise to rest Walcott for a late burst, and have Pod and Gerv either side of Giroud? Or again, start with the Ox on the right, and bring Gerv on late.
    The score will dictate a lot of the substitutes, but despite injuries, the bench looks okay unless Per goes down?
    Jenks, Per Sagna, Nacho
    Arteta, Diaby,
    AOC, Giroud, Pod

    That would be okay, or variations with subs above. Enough for a score of 0-1 anyway, I hope?

  9. JM says:

    Getting too far ahead on our CL game at home to Bayern Munich.
    There is also a matter of the FA Cup knock-out round next weekend against Blackburn Rovers (Our one realistic chance of getting silverware this season.)

    I would suppose some of our key players could be rested for that tie before the CL game.

    A new look Newcastle side will give a stern test for Tottenham today, so for this game against Sunderland, we should go all out for 3 pts to close down 4th spot.

  10. VCC says:

    Drawn out of the hat…..

    Red Arse =
    Sunderland v Arsenal…………….draw
    Spurs v NU…………………………..home
    Liverpool v WBA……………………draw
    Swansea v QPR……………………draw
    Stoke v Reading……………………draw

    Oz =
    AV v WHU…………………………….home
    Liverpool v WBA……………………away
    Sunderland v Arsenal…………….away
    MU v Everton……………………….draw
    Spurs v NU…………………………..draw

  11. VCC says:

    Koscielny/Ramsey/Cazorla all start.

  12. alexgunners says:

    Hi fellow Gooners,

    We are fielding a strong team once again and i hope that fatigue does not come into play too much thanks to the international games midweek.

    Here’s to hoping for an injury free game and 3 points as well.


  13. VCC says:

    PPP. The referee today is Anthony Taylor.

    Where is Oz when you need him?

  14. VCC says:

    Oz help…..any streams?

  15. glic says:

    Afternoon Vagetrilloquist`s 😆

    Try this one Vic`s, down as stream 6

  16. alexgunners says:


    Here’s one, i hope it works well for you

  17. alexgunners says:

    Jenks to start,

    Koz apparently is unwell

  18. VCC says:

    Koscielny unwell……Jenkinson steps in.

  19. VCC says:

    cheers guys…COYG

  20. Highbury Harmony says:

    Sagna is playing center half, this should be interesting

  21. Highbury Harmony says:

    By the way, afternoon all 🙂

  22. Highbury Harmony says:

    How does Giroud always miss those?

  23. alexgunners says:

    Glad we are in front but too many wasted opportunities as well as too indecisive in front of goals. That is costing us at the moment

  24. VCC says:

    How many times does the opposition Goal keeper get man of the match against us.

    If we are not careful and score another goal we could end up drawing this.

  25. Highbury Harmony says:

    Haha we are shooting quite a few right at the keeper or blatantly wide! Theo shot two at Mignolet and Ramsey one, but to be fair they have both looked excellent. Our finishing is letting us down, but we look like the real deal going forward. Santi seems to have been rejuvenated after being rested last week.

  26. TotalArsenal says:

    Afternoon guys, great first half and good to be in front. Let’s finish it in 2nd half. COY fecking brilliant Gunners!!!! 😛

  27. alexgunners says:


    even al-habsi get man of the match against us, they just seem to step up

  28. TotalArsenal says:

    By the way, I fecked up the line-up for today, big style. My worst predicted line up ever! 😦

  29. Red Arse says:

    My stream is absolutely useless for some reason.

    What are you guys using — any problems?

  30. Highbury Harmony says:

    Red Arse,, link 1 is what I’m using and there have been no breaks at all

  31. Red Arse says:

    Thanks guys, I’ll try that instead. (Could be a local problem with my ISP).

  32. Highbury Harmony says:


    Hahaha was just about to comment on your predicted line-up ;). Good preview though, the reserved optimism makes sense, but for some reason I always felt like we’d come out with a win!

    It appears AW read your article from yesterday and has played Santi and Jack close to Giroud today 🙂 (even though Santi is supposed to be playing LW haha).

  33. VCC says:

    we need another goal sooooon

  34. Red Arse says:

    Just seen Jack injured and my stream went again. Now suspect McAfee Virus checker!! Damn.

    Is Jack OK?

  35. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi HH, we looked good in first half, but big test now.

    Ooh dear Ramsey…

  36. TotalArsenal says:

    Ooh dear Jenkinson….

    We are making it hard for ourselves – come on Arsene, sort it out!

  37. alexgunners says:

    Tough test now, jenks off and we lost our composure since we lost JW

  38. TotalArsenal says:

    So true, this is when the experienced players should stand up and be counted!

  39. alexgunners says:

    OMG, talk about pressure. The boys have done well but we had a few chances that we should have put away even late in the game. Once again, 3 points and that’s all that matters

  40. TotalArsenal says:

    Brilliant defensive performance. Did you see Sagna celebrating at the final whistle?! A true Gunner! 🙂

  41. TotalArsenal says:

    All agreed about the chances, Alex. We should have done better: especially Theo and Giroud. But three important away points in the bag. Now bring on B & B!

  42. alexgunners says:

    Good defending after being one player down. We need to convert more of our changes tho’. Considering a few of our players had to travel midweek, let be grateful for the result

  43. Highbury Harmony says:

    Sagna looked good at CB, perhaps we have our answer for a physical defender in the middle? Also, Giroud and Theo really let us down today, basically my biggest fear going forward.

  44. VCC says:

    Giroud was poor today. He could have helped us out much more.

    Two points though, that’s the important thing.

    Some one tell GLiC he can come out from behind the sofa.

  45. alexgunners says:


    Giroud ran out of legs in the last 15 minutes, Perhaps bringing in Poldi would have made a differnce and perhaps our chances would have been taken or at least apply the pressure on them instead.

  46. VCC says:

    spot on Alex. Why didn’t Wenger take Giroud off and put Podolski on. Seemed a pretty straight forward decision from our point of view.

  47. TotalArsenal says:

    Why didn’t Wenger take Giroud off? Because he was a rock in our defence. 🙂

  48. Red Arse says:

    You lot have absolutely no idea what it is like to have no stream (definitely my bloody Virus checker) and no radio, and not a peep out of you lot!!!

    The old heart has been racing in the enforced silence.

    Still, we WOOOOOONNN!!! Yayyy!!! 😛

  49. alexgunners says:

    TA, I agree that he was great defensively but if we had the legs we could push further up the field and relieve the pressure on the defense a whole lot more. In these situations, they will always try to explore the man advantage but in most cases, if you can stick to your game plan and put pressure on them, the game will open up and they will get caught out.

  50. Highbury Harmony says:


    He missed a sitter earlier in the game too, I was more referring to worrying about our forwards’ finishing as a whole.

    TA, Giroud was great on clearing headers!

  51. Red Arse says:

    I heard that Giro ran himself ragged in supporting the defence at every corner etc, as well as charging about upfield!!

    Who is right? — when I see the replay I will make my own mind up!

  52. alexgunners says:


    No chance of commenting on the game, It was heart in the mouth stuff. I can only imagine your heart as well not knowing what was going on. By the way definitely disable the anti-virus

  53. Highbury Harmony says:

    I thought Ramsey played a fantastic game, especially covering at RB. Sessegnon was dangerous on the left and Ramsey did his best against him.

  54. alexgunners says:

    I am not denying that he did a great job defensively, finishing is another issue. We were fortunate, we won and that is all that matters. All i was saying is that with fresh legs we could have taken the pressure off ourselves

  55. Highbury Harmony says:

    Definitely Alex, though I expect Theo to convert on those breakaways!

  56. alexgunners says:

    Also what a game by Sagna, I believe he deserves a lot of credit for his defending tonight

  57. alexgunners says:

    In the land of Oz it’s 4.20am its time to get some shut eye. Have a wonderful evening to you all and once again BK is a great place to share thoughts, emotions and opinions.
    So many varied opinions without being too critical of each other.


  58. Red Arse says:

    Nite Alex! 😀

    What a great buzz — first game I have missed in three years!! Oh,my!! 😀

  59. glic says:

    Hi muvverz and goodnight or shall say good early morning alex !. Couldn`t get out from behind the sofa for a while, as my missus went out after she scrotum cuffed me to the radiator and had to wait for her return !.
    After the euphoria of finding out the score, I`m now worried about Jack, hope it aint too bad !. 😦

  60. Highbury Harmony says:


    Jack looked fine to me, I think he was taken off for precautionary reasons. Sunderland seemed to be targeting him and he played midweek. He never needed any attention from the trainer and watched the rest of the game on the bench and was never in pain.

  61. Red Arse says:

    Hi Faverzz,

    You and that bloody old sofa had better be thinking of getting married with all that cohabiting during games!! 🙂

  62. glic says:

    Hi Redders and Double H 🙂

    It`s all that ” Oh rosy dong ” fault, he should have taken Jack off at half-time against Brazil !. Clunge !.

    The relationship with my sofa is going well…..sofa, so good !. Yes , even I scrape the barrel sometimes ! hahaha

  63. glic says:

    Oh and fine post Total, apart from your team selection ! hahaha

  64. Macko says:

    hello English friends, yeah we won but it was hard;)
    For Theo Walcott if he did not balloon in depth what little he makes is the player who make little difference at all the moments.
    Diaby is afraid of the game for me he is not prepared to To play our games is too early.
    Giroud pitiable number of ball lost countless I think he should have done enter Podolski.
    Ramsey has made ramsey 🙂
    Jenkinson no comment 🙂
    Sagna, Szczesny imperial and Nacho very good;)
    Again thank you for the information to see the game.
    Frankly, the last fifteen minutes I snatched the hair

  65. VCC says:

    Red Arse 17:15

    I’m right. He missed a few good chances to score and Wenger should have replaced him instead of Walcott…..Simples.

  66. Gerry says:

    I’ll watch it on the ‘player tomorrow, but I caught all but the first 10 minutes of the second half of sound commentary. That was okay as I could still work on my Template problem on the computer at the same time, which was a bonus
    At least I got the score right in my prediction.

    Give my verdict on who did what tomorrow.


  67. TotalArsenal says:

    VCC, totally disagree my friend. Giroud’s defensive contributions were essential: without it we would very likely have dropped two points today. Simples.

    Hi Gerry, good to hear your verdict tomorrow 🙂

  68. TotalArsenal says:

    Bon Soir Gooner de Paris, Macko! 🙂

    Agreed that Szczesny and Sagna were ‘imperial’, simplement increable!

    I also agree on your observation that Diaby is ‘afraid of the game’: he was a disappointment today. It is about time, he becomes a full-on footballer who uses his body strength to the max rather than pussy footing around opponents.

  69. VCC says:

    Giroud should have passed to Cazorla late on when we had 2 on 1 just outside the box. Any other good player would have done so and put us in a good position to score a second and kill them off.

    He was knackered in the latter stages and couldn’t even hold the ball up, it kept coming straight back at us, because he wasn’t good enough.

    He also missed some gilt edged chances through out the game.

    A poor performance for a £12 million centre forward.

    Specsavers open at 9 oclock Monday.

  70. TotalArsenal says:

    VCC, he was immense defensively. No manager in the world would have taken him off when playing with 10 men and under the cosh. Sorry we cannot see eye to eye on this one. Maybe the zimmerframe was blinding you! hahaha 😛

  71. VCC says:

    Total……. Definitely don’t see eye to eye on that one. We surely must have been watching different games.

    Im talking about todays away visit to Sunderland. KO 15:00.

  72. Highbury Harmony says:

    In what respect can a striker be immense defensively? I thought Giroud’s header clearances were crucial, but he didn’t strip the ball, stop the opposition one on one, block shots etc (nor is it his responsibility to). So, I guess he was good defensively from a strikers standpoint. However, he was wasteful yet again in his finishing, but he made some good passes and some other bone-headed decisions that cancel each other out haha.

  73. Highbury Harmony says:

    VCC @18:44,

    I think you’re being a little harsh on Giroud as we were in the late stages of the game and he had been running up and down the pitch since we were down to 10 men. He definitely put in a full effort today and you can never criticize him for that. He made some great clearances from headers in our zone and had some good passes in the game as well.

    However, I will agree that he was wasteful in his finishing and also made some other boneheaded decisions that could have cost us on other days. Let’s be happy with the three points!

  74. TotalArsenal says:

    VCC, no need to be cheeky. If you cannot see the value of Giroud’s defensive contributions today, then we just have to disagree. I had already said that he and Theo had been wasteful today, but if you really think he should have been substituted for that rather than Theo, when we are under tremendous pressure and playing with ten men being one nil up, and Giroud making one defensive clearance after the other, then so be it. I rest my case.

  75. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi HH,

    As you said, his clearances were crucial. They helped us winning the game and release the pressure.

  76. VCC says:

    I thought Giroud was wasteful and tired towards the end and he could not hold the ball up to relieve the pressure.

    imo I thought Theo would have been a better bet with having nine men back and having Theo up front and use his speed against their pressing defence.

    We agree to disagree on this one.

  77. TotalArsenal says:

    Fair enough VCC, but I think you are doing him a big disservice today. His contributions in the last 30 minutes of the games were immense: he fought like a lion and he was everywhere. His finishing suffered today, but he worked his socks off to help the team hold onto the lead. I say it again, not many managers would have taken Giroud off today: no way.

    Night all. 🙂

    Match report by Highbury Harmony in the morning! 🙂

  78. Macko says:

    Giroud on every degagement he jumps well before the ball arrives him on his head, I do not understand!!
    you can not tell me it is very technical ball at their feet???
    It is good pivot, on resumption of center and sometimes he takes a decisive pass. in defense it is not bad but plz, look at the numbers from balloons wasted by him is crazy 70% of balls that he are get wasted, it has trouble reading the game, he rarely do of Appeal within the depth and even Theo is never used for to play in the interval
    He will have to learn quickly if he will lose its place for next season ……

  79. Gerry says:

    Not a full review as I have only seen the extended highlights on Sky’s ‘First Match’ thingy.

    First impressions:
    Nacho – Welcome to the world of Gibbs: If Santi was deployed on the left to offer support, it was never going to happen?

    Wilshere – A risk playing him? If these ‘only out for 4 or 5 days’ turn out to be anything like previous statements to that effect, then YES! Not said with hindsight either. And yes HH, I had got it in my head that we were playing BM this week in my earlier comment, but still relevant for him and Kos?
    With luck he will be okay. Would we have won without his energy and drive, who knows? But that is what squad rotation is all about.

    Attack – For a team ‘parking the bus’ they had to rely on their goalie to stop the score being 0-4. We could go on and on about our strikers not being more clinical, and no doubt Sunderland fans will be saying the same, but some games are like that.

    Giroud for instance. He could have passed instead of shooting, shot at the goal instead of over or wide, and had players receive his passes … all of that today. It was that type of game. Hustle and bustle, snap decisions, but this is a guy who scored from similar positions in recent games, and played some perfectly weighted assists in that same period,? I do find some criticism a bit OTT regards his overall addition to the side. Remember also that he has hardly played with with Jenks and Nacho, and much of the play was in the crowded middle where he had 3 defenders around him at times.

    Midfield – I think Jack is missing a trick if he wants the Ref to notice he has been fouled – You know, do a triple somersault, a half pike, and at least three rolls screaming. That gets their attention? – But that isn’t Jack is it? Just sitting there, arms raised, means the Refs tend to think it wasn’t that bad?

    However, on his play, another story. I called him ‘the midfield driver’, and that’s what he did. I thought him and Santi took hold of the game in the best possible way. They found space where the wasn’t any, or shouldn’t have been, and should have been rewarded by more goals, but for the above. At least Santi has taken my previous comments to heart( I have such power in my dreams) and got his body over the ball when shooting, and got his superbly struck goal that even the mighty Ming could not stop.

    Ramsey too, had an excellent game. Perhaps he tired towards the end when he gave the ball away, but despite that, and his bad tackle, he stuck to his task even as a RB.
    I must admit, if I was AW, I would have brought on Miguel as soon as Jenks departed, and switched Sagna back. However, reading the stats on Sagna in the last 14 mins, Miguel may have found it hard to cope from a standing start?

    Ateta had another solid game. I got worried when Gra-Ham came on and they set up with two strikers (worried in the sound commentary – I knew the result watching the match!). But the team effort in thwarting all attempts on our goal was great to see. As was the celebrations at the end?

    Which brings me neatly on to Szcz – I have not been a subscriber to the thoughts that a back up goalie was high on our priority list, just to keep Szcz on his toes. He is very self critical, and today he showed not only is he a great shot stopper, but a great Gunner too. It meant a lot to him, and Bacary Sagna, who has also had his critics of late.

    That to coin a phrase, ‘is what it is all about’ …

  80. TotalArsenal says:

    Excellent summary Gerry. I will copy and paste it into the new post which I hope to issue soon. 🙂

  81. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post – New Post 🙂

    Prepare yourself for an excellent, in-depth match review including player ratings by Highbury Harmony! 🙂

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