Arsenal v Sunderland: Sam Allardyce will tweak system after injury setback

Fabio Borini
Fabio Borini
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Sam Allardyce will tweak Sunderland’s system at Arsenal, to accommodate the loss of injured pair Seb Larsson and Jermain Defoe.

Sunderland’s switch to a 3-5-2 set-up has paid big dividends in the last two games, with Larsson and Defoe both starting in the victories over Crystal Palace and Stoke.

Our injury scenario means we’ll have to tweak it because we haven’t got Seb or Jermain Defoe

Sam Allardyce

But with the pair both missing for this weekend’s clash at the Emirates, Allardyce will tinker with the make-up of Sunderland’s midfield and attack, with Jordi Gomez, Adam Johnson, Ola Toivonen, Fabio Borini and Duncan Watmore all in contention to start.

However, Allardyce will stick with fielding three centre-halves after Sunderland have been vastly improved defensively in the last two outings.

“Yes we’ll stick with three at the back because the more you can work on it and keep the one system, then the better it gets,” said Allardyce.

“Obviously at this moment in time, it seems to suit the team, but if you get injuries in certain areas, then we might have to change.

“But while the team is playing well in that system and producing results, then you stay with that.

“Our injury scenario means we’ll have to tweak it because we haven’t got Seb or Jermain Defoe.

“Other players will have to step in and do the business.”

Arsenal have injury concerns of their own after Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez joined Mikel Arteta, Francis Coquelin, Tomas Rosicky, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere in the treatment room.

But Allardyce brushed off the suggestion that this is a good time to face an Arsenal side who have taken only two points from their last three Premier League outings.

“Listen, the Man United’s, Arsenal’s, Chelsea’s and Man City’s have much more capability of coping with injuries than we have,” he added.

“They keep 24 international players and that’s why they’re still competing in the Champions League and finish in the top four when they get injuries.

“That’s no disrespect to my players, it’s just a fact of life.

“We’ve got Jack Rodwell, Jermain Defoe and Seb Larsson not playing, who are three big, big players with Premier League experience who we could do with being available for Saturday.

“They’re not there, so let’s hope the players who step in can cope. “