Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against Arsenal, Sunderland defender John O’Shea is confident his side are capable of getting a result at the Emirates Stadium.
Last season, the Black Cats earned a 0-0 draw in north London thanks to some dogged defending, and O’Shea sees no reason not to believe it can happen again.
With Arsenal missing a number of key players, Sunderland have as good a chance as they’re ever likely to have of taking something away from the Gunners, but it won’t be easy.
“You’re going to have to put in a big shift,” O’Shea admitted in an interview with safc.com before the game.
“Obviously Arsenal have a fantastic squad of players, they’re challenging at the top of the table and still in Europe as well. They’ve got a big game coming up in Europe after they play us and we’ll be looking to put them under pressure too.”
In the last meeting between the sides, Arsenal struggled to break Sunderland down despite having most key players available. Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sánchez all started that game back in May, with Theo Walcott coming off the bench.
This time around Arsenal are unlikely to have any of those men available, but former Manchester United defender O’Shea is taking nothing for granted.
“We have done it previously but you realise the effort, concentration, quality that’s needed to do that. We need to maintain that and improve on it game by game if we can, that’s what we’ll be looking to do.
“Arsenal obviously drew away to Norwich, we’ve been watching clips and different things.
“We know we’re going to have to defend very very well as a unit to make sure we keep them out because they do have some quality players.”
Despite all the absentees, Arsenal will be with Mesut Özil and Aaron Ramsey. Along with Olivier Giroud, there are a number of players who are available and capable of unlocking any defence.
Hopefully they do the business on Saturday.