Gary Rowell: Sunderland face most important game of season against Arsenal

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
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THERE’S an argument to be made that Sunderland’s game against Arsenal this Saturday is the Wearsiders’ most important of the season so far.

The fantastic form shown by Sunderland since the arrival of Martin O’Neill in early December coupled with recent results elsewhere, means that there is little chance now of the club getting sucked into the relegation battle – though I know you never say never.

And it would take that sort of fantastic form to continue for Sunderland to make inroads towards the top of the table.

So with Sunderland likely to have another solid if not spectacular Premier League season, all eyes this weekend will focus on the FA Cup where Sunderland really could do some damage.

It’s a game to relish.

One of the most celebrated names in English football coming to the Stadium of Light to take part in the oldest cup competition in the game. And the prize will be a place in the last eight.

This weekend’s game is important because a great deal of attention will come Sunderland’s way should they beat Arsenal and reach the last eight.

The club has established itself in the top flight over the last five years and in the last couple of months have forced people to sit up and take notice with the results Martin O’Neill has managed to conjure.

But if Sunderland can overcome Arsenal and continue this good cup run, they have an opportunity not only to push for silverware but also to gain themselves greater kudos and credibility.

This is important, not just for the morale of the players and the fans but for the reputation of Sunderland in the game. The more successful Sunderland can be, the more of an impact they make, the better their chance of attracting top players to the club.

Realistically, Sunderland are on the verge of another decent Premier League campaign.

But the cup offers the chance for glory and that’s why Sunderland will be giving it everything this weekend to gun down the Gunners.