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Preview: Arsenal v Sunderland: duo out, Walcott starts + prediction

By on May 16, 2017

theo walcott arsenal

Arsenal need a win to keep the put the pressure on Liverpool when we entertain Sunderland at the Emirates this evening.

Saturday’s impressive 4-1 victory at Stoke City saw us move to within just one point of the top four but unfortunately West Ham rolled over which saw the Merseysiders ease to a 4-0 win on Sunday.

The gap is now four points again and while we should still keep an eye on Manchester City’s results, Liverpool are the target and we need them to slip up at home to Middlesbrough on the final day.

If we win our two remaining games then we’ll finish on 75 points – which is higher than last season when we finished second – but we need Liverpool to draw/lose to ‘Boro so we can snatch fourth this season.

Sunderland arrive at the Emirates rooted to the bottom of the table having already been consigned to the Championship next season so there is no reason why we shouldn’t thrash them tonight.

Team News

Koscielny is a major doubt after aggravating an Achilles injury against Stoke and he wasn’t able to train yesterday so I don’t think he’ll be risked tonight.

Sanchez was in full training on Monday but he’ll also face a late fitness test after limping off with a thigh problem at the weekend.

Oxlade-Chamberlain remains out with a hamstring injury but Gibbs is back in contention after recovering from a calf problem.

Sunderland will hand late fitness tests to Jason Denayer and Victor Anichebe.

Preferred line-up

I hope we don’t risk either Koscielny or Sanchez from the start tonight as we have the FA Cup to think about. We have plenty of options to come in and we should have more than enough quality to beat Sunderland at home without them.

I’d bring Gabriel in to the back three alongside Mustafi and Holding while Ramsey should get a recall alongside Xhaka in midfield.

Walcott could come in to the attack in place of Sanchez while I’d give Welbeck a start tonight despite Giroud scoring twice at the weekend.

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Prediction

Based on their performance against Swansea at the weekend, Sunderland have already packed their bags for the summer so we can have no excuses tonight. Fourth looks unlikely but we have to put the pressure on Liverpool and City with a win. I’m backing the boys to secure a 3-0 win and take the battle for fourth to the final day of the season. Arsenal 3-0 Sunderland

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