WES Brown has warned that Sunderland will pay a heavy price if they start Sunday’s game against Arsenal as poorly as they did against West Brom in their last outing, writes GRAEME ANDERSON.
The Black Cats were 2-0 down to the Baggies inside the first five minutes at the Stadium of Light before recovering to draw 2-2 on October 1.
But Brown says the Wearsiders cannot expect to get away with a start like that again – especially against free-flowing Arsenal at the Emirates this weekend.
“When you go to Arsenal, you have to keep it tight for at least the first 20 minutes,” said the ex-Manchester United defender. “We can’t afford to get off to another really bad start like we did against West Brom.
“To be 2-0 down after five minutes gives you a mountain to climb.
“Thankfully, we got back into that game, but if we start like that on Sunday, we’ve got no chance.
“We’ll be looking to keep a clean sheet and hopefully drive on from there.”
Though Sunderland’s start has been poor, 15th-placed Arsenal’s – just one point and one place above the Wearsiders – has been far worse by the Gunners’ own high standards.
Both teams will be looking to improve their records this Sunday (1.30pm kick-off) and add a touch of respectability to their league positions.
And while Brown acknowledges that Sunderland will be facing an Arsenal side determined to return to the heights, he hopes that the international break will see Sunderland return to Premier League action ready to show their best form.
He said: “Like ourselves, Arsenal haven’t had too good a start to the season.
“They probably expected a bit more, just as we did. What we need is a win to restore some confidence and lift us back up the table.
“Arsenal have quality players and it will be a very difficult game for us.
“But I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve had a couple of weeks without a game now and I’m raring to go.”
Brown faced Arsenal many times in his Manchester United career, with the games between the Gunners and the Red Devils in the late 1990s and early 2000s often viewed almost as title deciders.
There was always an edge in the games between both managers and players, but Brown said: “Whatever the rivalry, there was a lot of professional respect between the players and the two managers for the football they played and their achievements.
“Often we came out on top and sometimes it was Arsenal, but the competitive spirit of the sides was typified by the captains.
“Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira were both such great skippers, as well as fantastic players.
“They went head-to-head in midfield, but I know they also had great respect for each other and their abilities.”