Sunderland boss facing selection headache for Arsenal clash

DeAndre Yedlin
DeAndre Yedlin
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DeAndre Yedlin hopes he has given Sam Allardyce a selection headache for Sunderland’s trip to title-chasing Arsenal this weekend.

The Sunderland boss is sweating on the fitness of Jermain Defoe (hamstring) and Seb Larsson (knee) for Saturday’s clash at the Emirates, yet he will have one player available again after Billy Jones served his one-match ban in last weekend’s win over Stoke.

We want to make the manager’s job hard over who to put on the field and I think I’ve done that

DeAndre Yedlin

Jones had previously started every game under Allardyce, yet replacement Yedlin produced a positive performance against the Potters.

Both Yedlin and fellow wing-back Patrick van Aanholt are perfectly-suited to those roles in Allardyce’s 3-5-2 set-up, and the on-loan Spurs man believes he has given the Sunderland manager plenty to ponder.

The USA international told the Echo: “Hopefully I’ve given the manager something to think about.

“Billy has been playing well, but we want to make the manager’s job hard over who to put on the field and I think I’ve done that.

“I think we’re all ideal for that wing-back role.

“Patrick scored a great goal and we were both able to get forwards.

“It’s a great position for us.

“You definitely have more licence with cover behind you in that third centre-back. It’s a little bit more comfortable.”

The switch to three centre-halves has seen Sunderland record back-to-back wins and clean sheets to move out of the relegation zone for the first time since August.

And while Arsenal lie just two points adrift of the Premier League summit, there is fresh confidence in Sunderland’s ranks that they have the discovered the defensive resilience to add to their points tally against Arsene Wenger’s side.

“Back-to-back wins is big for our confidence,” added Yedlin.

“We can’t get too excited because we’ve got a very tough game at Arsenal next.

“Psychologically, it’s a big boost to get out of the bottom three, but it wasn’t easy to do that.

“We’ve got to make sure we put in just as much work every single game.

“We’re a lot more focused defensively and we’ve seen in these last few games what we can do.

“As a defender, that’s our main focus to not concede goals.

“I think the gaffer has definitely brought a more defensive approach on the training ground and that’s helped us.

“Arsenal is just the next challenge. Hopefully we can get the result there.

“If we don’t give away any goals, we can’t lose.

“It would be a huge to get another positive result down there and that’s what we’ll be looking to do.”