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By Avenell Dave

While Arsenal have long had a reputation for being vulnerable in the North West, for me, the North East is equally troublesome.

We've had matches against Newcastle where we get two players sent off, or let a four goal lead slip, we've had matches against Sunderland where Abou Diaby gets his career ruined or where we miss a late penalty or, as last season, where Per Mertesacker gets a season-ending injury.

Sunderland is not a nice place to go.

There was a time when Martin O'Neill was being revered as one of the top managers in the country but he has been found out and now has a reputation for clogger sides who never seem to do as well as they might.

But that doesn't make them any less of a threat for our trip on Saturday and it' going to be a huge test for us.

Nacho Monreal may have had a baptism to English football with a home match against Stoke, but a trip to the Stadium of Light will certainly test his acclimatisation further.

What we have to be, above all else, is tight at the back.

Is it too much to expect a second clean sheet in a row? The Wearside crowd get restless when their team is struggling and equally can intimidate when they're doing well, so we must keep them quiet.

The pitch is always a disgrace and so it will be tricky to play football in the way we want to, but that is a challenge we must seek to overcome.

It seems the world has finally woken up to Jack Wilshere and I'm quite happy for the saviour of English football to be targeted if it means more space for Santi Cazorla.

I do fear that our flair players will be targeted. We know Seb Larsson is deadly from free kicks and that Danny GRaham has a decent record scoring against us.

Sunderland may be struggling but this is just the type of game that we have struggled to win in the past and at this stage of the season, we cannot afford to drop more points.

Win, and we can put pressure on those above us, really start to build some momentum and consistency and get back to where we should be, which is top four at the bare minimum.

Draw or lose and we're giving our rivals a chance to pull further away from us - T*tt*nham and the Ch*vs have both won at Sunderland already this season. 

We simply cannot drop points if we are to push on.

Addict XI


Jenkinson Mertesacker Koscielny Monreal


Walcott Cazorla Podolski




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