Arsenal Squad : Szczesny; Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy; Diaby, Wilshere; Nasri, Rosicky, Arshavin; Bendtner./nSunderland Squad : Mignolet; Ferdinand, Bramble, Mensah, Bardsley; Henderson, Muntari; Elmohamady, Richardson, Sessegnon; Gyan./nArsenal will attempt to just close the gap on leaders Manchester United to a mere point when they take on Sunderland at the Emirates this weekend. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men suffered a 2-1 defeat to rivals Chelsea, which has enabled the Gunners to heave the pressure on the English Premier League leaders./nArsene Wenger’s men returned to confidence and reinstated their dominating presence on world football with a 5-0 thrashing of League One outfit Leyton Orient. The win followed the North London giants’ shock 2-1 loss in the Carling Cup final to Birmingham City, a team many believed Arsenal would dismantle easily and diminish their five-season trophy drought./nArsenal will be eager to shorten the gap between first and second, but it will not be an easy feat. The Gunners have the tough task of overcoming a doughty Sunderland outfit, who will undoubtedly look to expose Arsenal’s lack of physicality by playing a rough style of play./nThe Black Cats are eighth in the league table and have acquired a victory in their last four EPL outings. However, the two sides met in September, with the encounter finishing in a 1-1 draw thanks to a last second goal to Steve Bruce’s men from Darrent Bent, who left the club in January for Aston Villa./nHowever, it is no secret the Gunners struggle against the powerful, rough exposure of Sunderland alongside their powerful attacking prowess. Fortunately, the Gunners’ defence has entered form in recent months, and as their recent win suggests, the Gunners’ attack can be almost impossible to defend./nArsenal have not lost a single Premier League game this year, and are currently on an unbeaten run of 10 league games./nThey have also won their last four league games at the Emirates Stadium, scoring eight goals in the process./nFive of those were scored by Robin van Persie, who is unavailable for this game due to an injury he sustained against Birmingham City in the final of the League Cup – which ended 2-1 in in favour of Alex McLeish’s side./nThe Gunners have scored 57 goals in the top-flight this season, and only Manchester United (62) have scored more./nA victory for Arsene Wenger’s charges would see them pile the pressure on United, as the distance between the two sides would be reduced to a single point ahead of the league leaders’ trip to Liverpool on Sunday./nSunderland have never beaten the north London club at the Emirates Stadium./nIn fact, apart from a victory at the Stadium of Light in 2009, the Black Cats have not managed to beat the Gunners since August 2000, when a header from Niall Quinn against his former club was enough to seal a victory./nSteve Bruce’s men have lost their last four games, conceding 11 goals in the process./nAsamoah Gyan is the club’s top scorer in the league this season, having hit the back of the net on nine occasions so far./nIn contrast, Lee Cattermole has been sent off twice and has seen seven yellow cards this campaign.
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