Arsenal - Sunderland Preview: Gunners looking to bounce back after winless November
Photo: Jonny Walsh/VAVEL

Sunderland will be the visitors to the Emirates on Saturday afternoon with Arsenal keen to get their season back on track after a disappointing November which saw them gain only two points from a possible nine.

The Gunners have had a torrid time in recent weeks after yet another predictable injury crisis which has decimated a hefty portion of the squad, and the Black Cats will be looking to take advantage of this.

Sam Allardyce's men have been in impressive form in recent weeks, winning their last two games against Stoke City and Crystal Palace, which has seen them rise to 17th in the table, above bitter rivals Newcastle United.

Can Arsenal get back on track?

It is no secret that November is Arsene Wenger's worst month for points won during his reign at Arsenal and his troops failed miserably once again as they failed to make ground in what is set to be a thrilling title race.

Both Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion in there last two fixtures have done effective jobs of frustrating the Gunners and subsequently the North London side picked up only one point from these fixtures.

Sunderland will be buoyed by their previous two games, however, which has seen them collect two clean sheets and six points, and Allardyce will be hoping that his defence can replicate these performances in what is sure to be a stern examination at the hands of Arsenal.

If the Gunners are to get back to winning ways on Saturday, Mesut Özil will no doubt have a say in the proceedings. The German maestro has recorded 11 assists and two goals in the league this season and has arguably been the division's finest player.

Olivier Giroud will also be keen to add to his goal tally with the Frenchmen notching seven in the league already this season.

Previous meetings highlight Arsenal dominance

Sunderland fans could be forgiven for dreading this fixture as their team have failed to beat Arsenal in their last 11 meetings, with Allardyce himself having not beaten a Wenger side in his last 10 meetings either.

This fixture last season saw Sunderland, then under the leadership of Dick Advocaat, come out with a surprising point in a goalless draw which all but secured their safety from relegation.

The meeting at the Stadium of Light last season, on the other hand, saw the Gunners emerge as 2-0 victors with Alexis Sanchez scoring both goals after two dreadful defensive errors.

Team news

Arsenal will be without a host of star names after Santi Cazorla and Alexis joined what is a long injury list.

However, Laurent Koscielny, Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs are all expected to return to the squad, though it is unclear whether they will start. Aaron Ramsey is likely to be deployed in a central role while Alex Oxlade-Chamerlain is expected to get his first start after returning from injury.

Sunderland are set to be without key players themselves though, with duo Sebastian Larsson and Jermain Defoe both absent, which could see Steven Fletcher lead the line on his own with Jeremain Lens in contention to replace the injured Swede.

Billy Jones will return to the team after serving a one match suspension but may struggle to get back into the team after successive clean sheets.

Predicted line-ups

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Ramsey, Flamini; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Walcott; Giroud.

Sunderland (5-4-1): Pantillimon; Jones, O'Shea, Kaboul, Coates, Van Aanholt; Watmore, M'Vila, Cattermole, Lens; Fletcher.

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