Sunderland v Arsenal, Saturday 15:00
– A Craig Gardner penalty was not enough for Sunderland as they fell to a 2-1 defeat away to Reading last weekend.
– Defender John O’Shea continues to display the composure in defence that made him a stalwart at Old Trafford for so many years. He leads the Sunderland squad for interceptions with 146 and clearances with 49.
– Steven Fletcher continues to look like one of the bargains of the season for Martin O’Neill’s side. The Scottish international has been displaying excellent accuracy in front of goal, racking up a 74.3% rate from 39 shots and bagging himself 10 goals along the way.
– Look for Adam Johnson and Stephane Sessegnon to once again pair up to provide Sunderland’s greatest creative threat from the flanks. Between the two they have so far provided 89 crosses and 10 assists.
– Despite only playing 639 minutes this season, when he’s on the field it’s clear that Lee Cattermole has lost none of his competitive bite. He’s picked up 13 fouls and attempted 31 challenges.
– Lukas Podolski’s deflected second-half free-kick earned Arsenal all three point against a typically dogged Stoke at The Emirates last Saturday.
– All signs point towards Olivier Giroud finding the back of the net with greater consistency if he improves his accuracy in front of goal. He’s bagged a solid 9 goals so far in his first season of English football, yet only has a 50.8% accuracy rate from 63 attempts on goal.
– Bacary Sagna has been struggling a little at times since his return from injury, yet he still displaying his trademark class in the tackle for the Gunners. He has the best tackle success rate in the Arsenal squad this season with 71.7% from 46 challenges.
– After an outstanding performance against Brazil in midweek, Jack Wilshere’s form shows no sign of waning any time soon. The gifted midfielder has successfully completed a pass in the opponent’s half once every 2.6 minutes he has been on the field this season.
– With fellow young English tyro Theo Walcott signing a new long-term contract, the future looks bright for this home-grown Arsenal side. The forward has been clinical in front of goal this season, bagging a goal once every 3.3 attempts he has on goal.