Arsenal v Sunderland; Saturday 18 August 2012
Emirates Stadium, 15:00 KO
Barclays Premier League
Arsenal winger Theo Walcott will face a late fitness test on his problematic thigh injury before the game. Arsene Wenger will be without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ankle) and defender Laurent Koscielny (calf), but summer signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla are set to start. Olivier Giroud may have to settle for a place on the Gunners' bench.
Meanwhile, Sunderland could hand a start to new striker Louis Saha - who only completed his move to the Stadium of Light yesterday. Stephane Sessegnon is out with an ankle injury, and Wes Brown (knee ligaments), Phil Bardsley (ankle) and David Vaughan (hernia surgery) are all long-term absentees.
Wenger: Arsenal will survive after Van Persie
Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal will survive despite losing star striker and captain Robin van Persie to rivals Manchester United.
The 29-year-old Dutchman completed his controversial switch to Old Trafford on Friday, signing a four-year deal with the Red Devils, ending his eight-year stay in north London.
Wenger admits he can understand Gunners supporters that are hurt at the loss of Van Persie, but is adamant his team can still fulfil their ambitions in the forthcoming campaign.
"Time heals all things and of course at the moment people are hurt, which I understand, but what is important for us is to focus on the season in front of us," explained the Frenchman.
"Players have gone, life goes on and the football club is 125 years old. Other big players have left this club and we have always gone from season to season in a strong way.
"We have lost world-class players before and we always survived. It is a massive challenge to replace Van Persie, so we have to be even more of a team and work even more together to compensate that loss.
"We have the quality to deal with the problem we have, and at the end of the day I can talk and talk and talk but we can only show it on the pitch now.
"We have bought Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, and if we need more players then we will invest. I believe we have what we need to be ambitious and to play our game."
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