ARSENAL head to Sunderland tomorrow with just one league defeat, but down in seventh place, some 11 points off leaders Chelsea.
Boss Arsene Wenger knows full well not to expect an easy ride at the the Stadium of Light, irrespective of Sunderland’s last result.
“When you go to Sunderland, you know to always expect commitment and fight for 90 minutes and we have to prepare ourselves for that,” Wenger said.
“The result from last week will certainly have dropped their confidence and increased their resolve to defend well, and then you can get very few openings, so it is up to us to just focus on our own performance.”
England forward Theo Walcott is close to a comeback from the serious knee injury which ruled him out of the World Cup.
Wenger, though, feels Walcott - who could play for the Under-21s again this weekend - needs a few more “kicks” before returning to the first team.
“He has a game that exposes him and he needs to feel completely confident, but he is not far,” said Wenger.
“Theo has to get used to contact again. He has been out for nine months, it was a big injury and it takes time to settle, to get used to being kicked again.
“Fitness-wise, Theo is there, but to play a part in the game on the contact front I think he needs a little bit more time.”
Wenger believes Walcott deserves great credit for the way he has handled his rehabilitation.
“For what he has gone through in the last nine months, you gain even more respect for him, because he had some difficult times and always responded very positively,” Wenger said.
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