Saturday afternoon will see Arsenal heading north to take on a struggling Sunderland side, who come into the game on the back of that forgettable 8-0 loss to Southampton last weekend.
But manager, Arsene Wenger, will know this is a fixture that will not come easy to the Gunners. Following a dull 2-2 draw with Hull last week, these players will have learnt a lesson in underestimating your opposition.
Arsenal go into the fixture looking a little better than last week in terms of injury concerns, with nobody picking up any knocks in the mid-week clash against Anderlecht.
Wenger confirmed Theo Walcott will be back in contention next week, but Sunderland was too soon for the winger. Walcott played a part in the Under 21-s squad but still needs time to get used to being “kicked” as the boss said. It is still not confirmed on when Koscielny will be linking up again, but the aim is to have him back after the next international break. Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil, David Ospina and Matthieu Debuchy remain long term injuries.
Wojech Szczesny will replace Emiliano Martinez, who was forced into action whilst Szczesny served his suspension. An in-form Jack Wilshere will be forced to sit this one out, due to a 1 match suspension following a build up of five yellow cards. Captain, Mikel Arteta, will replace Flamini, who has suffered a series of shaky performances. Oxlade-Chamberlain will be brought in to cover the suspended Wilshere. An unchanged back four from the unconvincing 2-1 victory in the week.
Wenger will want to keep with the same formation, pushing attack onto a defence who received a massive wake up call against Southampton.
Predicted Line Up (4-1-4-1)
Goalkeeper: Wojech Szczesny
Szczesny will return to the starting line up following a suspension in mid-week that saw him drop to the sidelines. The Pole needs to put in a decent performance following a series of silly mistakes at key moments, especially with David Ospina ruled out for three months with injury.
Defence: Callum Chambers, Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal, Kieran Gibbs
Wenger will go into the game with an unchanged back line, with Callum Chambers returning to Premier League action following his suspension against Hull last weekend. Focus will be on Monreal who has now started at centre back twice, so has no excuses for becoming lost in that back line. Gibbs will continue to shine in an impressive run of form after netting the equaliser in Belgium on Wednesday night.
I would have started Bellerin at right-back if I had the choice, with Monreal dropping out and Chambers slotting in next to Mertesacker.
Midfield: Mikel Arteta
With Wilshere out due to suspension, Wenger will most definitely hand Arteta a first start since returning from injury. Mikel played no part in the mid-week game, and Wenger needs experience in front of that struggling back four. The Spaniard will have to be careful in giving away fouls, due to the free-kick specialist that is former Gunner, Sebastian Larsson.
Midfield: Alexis Sanchez, The Ox, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla
Wenger knows that Sunderland’s 8-0 loss will have sparked a week of defensive training, and that is where the problem will lie for the Gunners. Aaron Ramsey will be handed a start, with The Ox coming in for Wilshere, giving him another chance to shine before the eagerly awaited return of Theo Walcott next week. Alexis and Santi also start.
Forward: Danny Welbeck
The Englishman had a frustrating night in Belgium but will be relishing the opportunity to face this Sunderland back line. A couple of goals will do heaps for his already blushing confidence, and take some of the pressure off game-changer, Alexis Sanchez.
Callum Chambers Per Mertesacker Nacho Monreal Kieran Gibbs
Mikel Arteta (c)
Alexis Sanchez The Ox Aaron Ramsey Santi Cazorla
Danny WelbeckSubs: D. Martinez, H. Bellerin, M. Flamini, T. Rosicky, A. Diaby J. Campbell, L. Podolski