Premier League relegation battlers Sunderland have rallied to an impressive run of form in recent weeks, at a crucial stage of the season, and Dick Advocaat’s men now need just a single point from their two remaining games against Arsenal and Chelsea to secure top-flight status.
The Black Cats may seem to be in a strong position over fellow drop-fighters Hull City and Newcastle United, but recent history suggests they will struggle to come away from the Emirates with a much-needed result, having failed to win at the Gunners since 1984.
Advocaat’s Wearside outfit have also managed to net only 13 goals in the 16 meetings since that last away triumph, but their determined Dutch boss is hopeful his side can cause an upset (10/1 with Coral to triumph).
“I think every player enjoys playing at Chelsea and Arsenal. We have nothing to lose because everyone expects us to lose – but we don’t. I know that we will give both of them a really difficult time and try and get what we need,” stated Advocaat.
Sunderland have surprisingly gone four domestic league clashes undefeated, including back-to-back wins over Southampton and Everton, and will be confident of earning that crucial point which would see them avoid a daunting drop down divisions.
“The quicker we get that point the better, but I have thought that right from the beginning. To take 11 points from seven games is great, but unfortunately we still don’t know if we are safe,” continued Advocaat, who recently admitted he will depart the club after the season finale.
“But everything is still in our own hands and hopefully we can do something ourselves at Arsenal. Otherwise we have to wait for the weekend.”
Injuries have ruled out duo Wes Brown and Liam Bridcutt, but Jack Rodwell returns to the squad as Advocaat also considers utilising wideman Adam Johnson from the start (6/1 to score anytime).
“He’s in the squad and when you are in the squad always a chance you will start,” Advocaat said.
A glimmer of hope for the travelling Black Cats will be Arsenal’s last home result, when Swansea City stunningly clinched a narrow 1-0 triumph in London, but this only halted a run of 10 league matches unbeaten.
The Gunners have already secured their place in next season’s Champions League and will have one eye on their FA Cup final meeting with Aston Villa.
Having won the last four meetings with Sunderland, including a 3-1 triumph at the Stadium of Light last season, Wenger’s men are 9/4 to win 2-1 or 3-1 again this time out, with their key attacking threats Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez available at 3/1 to both strike anytime on home soil.
The battling Black Cats managed to narrowly edge towards survival last season and they will be eager to claw their way to safety yet again this term, but Arsenal are 9/4 to win by three or more goals.