Arsenal will face Sunderland on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium, and after the 0-2 defeat against Bayern Munich in Champions League playing at home, they want to win in the Premier League in order to stay close to the first position or to climb to the top of the table, if Chelsea drop some points, since the Blues are only one point above the Gunners. For that reason, I think the manager Arsène Wenger will put a rather offensive team on the pitch, and use a 4-2-3-1 tactic as usual.
For this match, I think the goalkeeper will be Wojciech Szczęsny . Even when he saw the red card against Bayern Munich, and also taking into account the fact that Fabianski played from the start in the 2-1 victory against Liverpool in FA Cup, the Polish is usually Wenger’s choice to wear the gloves.
In defense, the boss will surely rely on Sagna as the right full-back, and Mertesacker and Koscielny in the centre duo, as Thomas Vermaelen is still out because of a knee injury (he spoke about his injury ahead of the Bayern Munich game and said: “It’s going well, I’m training outside now and getting back to fitness. It was a knee injury, but then I also had some tightness in my calf. But it’s getting better now, so I shouldn’t be out for long. I don’t want to put a date on it, but I can say it will be short-term. I’m building up my fitness now.” (source: Arsenal official website)
In my opinion, the left side will be occupied by the Spaniard Nacho Monreal, since Kieran Gibbs had to leave the pitch injured in the first half of the last match, against Bayern. Although the injury details and the date of return are still unknown, it seems that it’s a hamstring strain, so he may be sidelined for a few weeks at least.
The midfield is always the place where the uncertainties are greater in Arsenal, since Wenger has a lot of options: Arteta, Wilshere, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky, Özil, Cazorla, and even Podolski can play as an offensive midfielder. Aaron Ramsey is still injured so he is out for this match.
Mikel Arteta didn’t play against Bayern Munich, so I think he will play from the beginning against Sunderland because he had rested on Wednesday and will be fresh for Saturday match. In addition, if Arteta plays, Wenger can rest Flamini, who played in the last two matches. His partner in the defensive midfield will be, in my opinion, Jack Wilshere. He played the entire match against Bayern, but he hadn’t played against Liverpool on Sunday, so it won’t be very physically demanding for him to start against Sunderland.
In the offensive midfield, I think Özil will be in the lineup. He hadn’t played a great match against Bayern -he even missed a penalty-, but in my opinion, Wenger wants to give him confidence, and getting him out of the team would mean just the opposite. I think his partners will be the same of the Bayern Munich game, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cazorla, because the boss is used to rely on them instead of Podolski. However, Wenger may give Poldi some minutes if he needs more goal threat.
Finally, I think the striker will be Olivier Giroud, replacing Yaya Sanogo in the lineup. Although some rumors said that Wenger sidelined Giroud against Liverpool and Bayern because of the situation with the American model Celia Kay (the Frenchman admitted that he had cheated his wife with the model in the hotel where Arsenal players were staying before the match against Crystal Palace on February 2), the boss said that he rested him only because of performance and not as a way of punishment, as he spoke after the Bayern game: “It was just a decision based on performance. When I play Giroud in every game, people reproach me from playing him in every game. When I rest him, people reproach me for rested him.” (Source: Arsenal Official Website)
Even when Sanogo actually had a good match against Bayern, he had recently returned from a five-month injury, and played from the beginning against Liverpool on Sunday and Bayern on Wednesday, so I don’t think that Wenger will take any risk with him.