MATT KILGALLON insists Robin van Persie’s impending departure should not blind Sunderland to Arsenal’s other attacking threats tomorrow.
Van Persie, who has netted seven times in nine outings against Sunderland, is on the verge of a move to Manchester United after the two clubs agreed a £24million fee for the Dutch international earlier this week.
But with Arsenal splashing out more than £20m this summer on striker Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski, centre-half Kilgallon is under no illusions about the task facing Sunderland’s defence this weekend.
Kilgallon told the Echo: “The van Persie situation could have an impact on Arsenal.
“He’s a great player and I’m not sure if he will go before tomorrow, but I hope so!
“They have a lot of players who we’ll be talking about before the match and we’ll know how to defend against them.
“It’s going to be hard at Arsenal, they’ve signed some good players.
“We’ll be going there to try our best and do as well as we can, but there are some key players that we need to keep an eye on. “
Kilgallon is one of those in contention to feature in tomorrow’s curtain-raiser, although the former Leeds and Sheffield United centre-half is likely to start on the bench.
But the 28-year-old is relieved he has shaken off his pre-season injury worries after missing Sunderland’s pre-season trip to South Korea and last week’s friendly at Derby County.
Kilgallon returned from injury to feature in the opening half of Sunderland’s final pre-season outing at Leicester last Saturday and insists he is now up to speed.
“I missed the Derby game with a groin injury, which I’d had for a while,” he added.
“After I missed Korea with my calf, all I kept thinking was that I couldn’t be out with a groin injury as well, so I just kept training on it.
“I shouldn’t have done it and when I came on in Sweden I aggravated it.
“But I had three days off and it was fine for Leicester on Saturday, so it was a good decision in the end.
“I’m fit now, so it’s all good.
“You always pick up niggles in pre-season, but I think we’re looking alright in terms of injuries.
“Wes (Brown) has been unlucky again, but we’ve got a few coming back now.”