Arsenal Vs Sunderland, Sat 5 Mar 2011

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Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Denilson, Wilshere, Nasri, Diaby, Arshavin, Bendtner.

Subs: Almunia, Rosicky, Ramsey, Squillaci, Eboue, Gibbs, Chamakh.

Sunderland: Mignolet, Ferdinand, Mensah, Bramble, Bardsley, Henderson, Muntari, Malbranque, Richardson, Sessegnon, Gyan.

Subs: Gordon, Riveros, Welbeck, Colback, Elmohamady, Knott, Noble.


Arsene Wenger has urged his Arsenal team to pounce on Manchester United's slip-up in the Barclays Premier League title race.

Wenger insists his "obsession" is beating Sunderland at Emirates Stadium after United's midweek loss at Chelsea left the Gunners trailing by four points with a game in hand.

Victory against the Black Cats would pile pressure on Sir Alex Ferguson's side, who travel to Liverpool on Sunday.

Wenger wants his players to put Tuesday night's eagerly awaited Champions League showdown with Barcelona out of their minds and concentrate on domestic issues.

"The championship is very important. Personally, I cannot believe we play Barcelona next week because my obsession is really Sunderland," he said.

"The obsession is more than the Champions League because for me it's highly important that we take advantage of our situation in the Premier League.

"We battled everywhere since the start of the season against many specialist opinions that we have no chance at all.

"Now that we are in this situation, it would be very dramatic if we would not consider the importance of the game on Saturday."

Midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song will miss the visit of Sunderland and face a race to be fit for Barcelona.


"They are still improving for the Barcelona game. They have a chance," said Wenger.

"Fabregas at the moment has a stronger chance than Song, but they have a chance."

Aaron Ramsey is included in the squad and could make his first Arsenal appearance since breaking his leg at Stoke in February last year.

Meanwhile, Steve Bruce is convinced Sunderland can finish the season on a high as long as they can ride out the final few weeks of an injury nightmare.

The Black Cats head for Arsenal desperate to bring an end to a run of four successive Barclays Premier League defeats in the most trying of circumstances.

In addition, Bruce and his players travel with key men once again left behind in the treatment room.

The Black Cats have been without the likes of Michael Turner, Lee Cattermole, David Meyler, Fraizer Campbell and Danny Welbeck for months, and with Nedum Onuoha and Bolo Zenden having joined them on the casualty list and keeper Craig Gordon heading for Sweden to consult a specialist over his niggling knee problem on Monday, the manager's options are severely limited.

Welbeck could make the squad after returning to full training after his own knee injury and Turner, Cattermole and Campbell are expected to be available within weeks, and that would come as a welcome relief in the face of a costly run of defeats.

Bruce said: "The thing you look for is that resilience to get you out of it. We have got to try to get over the next two or three games and get over March if we can.

"After that, we have got eight or nine games where you look, on paper anyway, and think we have still got an outstanding chance.

"The eight or nine coming back will freshen us up. They will be champing at the bit and we will need that.

"It will give the whole place a lift when we get them back training again.

"I don't think I have been involved in anything like now when we have got nine - and probably six of them have been out for three months or more, and some of them have been out for six months, which is cruel, it really, really is."

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