It’s been quite a while Arsenal have come out looking so pleased and confident about their dealing in the transfer window (even if it was really just one purchase), while their hosts, Sunderland, have made some meaningful signings that don’t really seem to be working out so far.
The Northeastern side has earned only one point from their first three matches, which includes a home loss to Fulham and a 3-1 defeat in London against newly promoted Crystal Palace. Paolo Di Canio is obviously drawing most of the attention, but unlike last season, a lot of it has to do with criticism about his team’s ability to play and score goals.
Ki Sung-Yueng, Andrea Dossena and Fabio Borini arrived just before the end of the transfer window, as the Italian influence in this squad (with Emanuele Giaccherini and Vito Mannone arriving earlier in the summer) continues to grow. A lot is expected of Borini, who more than anything wishes to remain healthy for more than a couple of months, something that has been hard for him to achieve in his short career.
Even though the offense has been what’s worrying Di Canio, his big problems are on defense: John O’Shea is suspended, while Craig Gardner and Phil Bardsley remain out of the squad with injuries. The returns of Jozy Altidore and Lee Cattermole are reassuring, but it’s not enough to hold up a reasonable defensive line.
Arsenal head into this match not only buoyed by their wins over Fenerbahce and Tottenham; Arsene Wenger made one huge signing with Mesut Ozil, who might be the best attacking midfielder in the world right now. Just the fact that he has more assists than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues over the last five seasons is reason enough to get excited.
Tomas Rosicky has been added to the long list of injured players on Arsenal, but that seems to be perfect for Wenger, given a chance to start Ozil in his place, with Wilshere and Ramsey playing behind the German, while Walcott and Cazorla, probably occupy the wings.
Prediction – Sunderland have struggled against Arsenal for a very long time, especially at the Stadium of Light. While the signings Di Canio has made aren’t bad, they’ll need more time to gel, and considering his problems and absences on defense, it’s hard seeing his side getting even a point in this one.