Arsenal-Sunderland Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Arsenal will be able to call upon record signing Mesut Ozil on Saturday when they travel to the Stadium of Light to play Sunderland.

Arsene Wenger's Arsenal (2-0-1) started the season in disarray, with a lack of transfer activity providing the backdrop to their opening weekend defeat to Aston Villa. However, less than a month later, it's all smiles at the Emirates. A Champions League play-off win over Fenerbahce came alongside back-to-back league wins - including a 1-0 victory against north London neighbours and closest rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

The addition of German attacking midfield star Ozil from Real Madrid, though, was the highlight of the summer - not just at Arsenal but in the whole of the Premier League, and the number 11 is looking forward to getting out on the pitch with his new teammates.

"I will have wonderful years here," said Ozil. "Hopefully I will win many trophies and stay healthy and this is what I look forward to. I am in the strongest league in the world and have to prove myself here to continue developing. This is why I am at the right club. I cannot promise to win trophies, but I can promise that as a team we will give our all to win trophies.

"Arsenal is a very well-known club, a very successful club with very young players, and the young players develop very well here. This was one of the reasons why I chose to come here, I want to continue to improve myself. I am really happy to be here under such a great manager. That was most important for us, what he (Wenger) thinks about me, what his plans are with me. I decided to come to Arsenal because I have the trust in this familiar environment."

Paolo Di Canio's Sunderland (0-1-2) have just one point from their opening three games. However, the Italian has brought in a host of new faces to the squad since being appointed in March, and one of those new players, Ki Sung-Yeung, is looking forward to this challenging match.

"It's not easy to play against the big teams," said the midfielder, who is at Sunderland on a season's loan from Swansea City. "I played against Arsenal four times last season, including the cups, so I know them well. They are a good side, one of the best in the country, but we are at home and looking to win. It will be a very interesting game.

"There's always pressure on the new boys, but I have to overcome that and show why I'm here."

Sunderland have injury doubts over John O'Shea (ankle), Connor Wickham (knock), Craig Gardner (groin), Wes Brown (knee), Lee Cattermole (knee) and Phil Bardsley (ankle). Arsenal are without Lukas Podolski (hamstring), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Mikel Arteta (hip), Thomas Vermaelen (back) and Abou Diaby (knee), while Theo Walcott (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (hip) and Yanick Sanogo (back) are doubts.

There was just one goal in the two league games between these sides last season - a Santi Cazorla strike in a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light. The meeting at the Emirates ended goalless.

The Black Cats have not won any of their last seven against Arsenal, losing four and drawing three. The Mackems have also failed to score more than once in any of their last 11 matches against the Gunners, and managed more than a single goal only once in their last 13 Premier League games.

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