Rowell Report: Arsenal have ‘so-called problems’ but they can still pass Sunderland to death

Lee Cattermole. Picture by FRANK REID
Lee Cattermole. Picture by FRANK REID

Sunday’s game against Arsenal will be a very different challenge to the one from the last home game against Leicester, but will be just as difficult.

Whereas Leicester play a direct, high-tempo game with great pace and work-rate, Arsenal love nothing more than getting the ball down, keeping possession and passing teams to death.

They don’t usually score goals like Jamie Vardy’s first against Sunderland, when one long ball from the back to a lightning quick forward ended up in the back of the net.

Arsenal prefer a much more patient game, pulling defenders out of position through short passes and intelligent movement.

Sunderland will have to adapt their approach by accepting there will be long periods when Arsenal will have the ball and when that’s the case, it’s essential that the players keep their concentration, discipline and team shape.

By their high standards, it’s been a disappointing season for the Gunners – knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup (which they’ve held for the last two years) and with the Premier League title out of reach, the only thing left for them is securing a top four spot for next season.

Arsene Wenger has come under pressure from some of his own fans, but despite all these so-called problems, Arsenal are still a team that are fourth from top, with plenty of gifted players capable of causing big problems on Sunday.

Sunderland have already lost twice to Arsenal this season in league and cup, but in each of those games, they were in it right up until the latter stages.

It will be good to welcome back Danny Welbeck, who had a successful loan spell on Wearside. He was my type of loan signing - young with the raw talent to develop and the hunger to succeed, who always gave his best in a red and white shirt.

After a great win at Norwich, Sunderland should go into the game with great belief and I can’t see Sam Allardyce making many changes – if any – to the team he’s been picking recently.

To really feel the benefit of those three points from Carrow Road, Sunderland have to get something from the Arsenal game and if they can make it back-to-back wins, it would really set us up for the relegation run-in.