Despite ‘only’ winning 3-1 and scoring in the final minute, Arsenal’s league game against Sunderland last month was relatively straightforward.
The visitors from the north-east were fairly dangerous on the break but passive and easily bypassed in midfield and at the back. It’s that sort of defending which leaves them in danger near the foot of the Premier League table, but Saturday could provide some reprieve.
Sunderland will be able to escape the pressure of a relegation battle on Saturday, as they visit the Emirates Stadium for the second time in five weeks. Arsenal, meanwhile, will manage to escape the pressure of being top of the Premier League table only to have the pressure of being heavy favourites on the day and attempting to defend the FA Cup for a second consecutive season.
Should the Black Cats push through their first transfer of the month, Arsenal’s task will probably be a little trickier.
— Christian Falk (@cfbayern) January 4, 2016
That’s right, Sunderland managed by Sam Allardyce are prising a player away from Bayern Munich, managed by Pep Guardiola. In truth, Guardiola and Bayern won’t mind. Kirchhoff appeared seven times in the Bundesliga in his first season at the club before being loaned at to Schalke, where he managed a 16 appearances in a year and a half.
So far this season the defender, who can play in midfield just as comfortably, has appeared in one cup game, as well as playing one league game for Bayern’s second team.
His career has stagnated since he left Mainz 05, where he was considered one of the best young players in Germany. He’s a very talented player and, at 25, not even at his best. His career has stagnated but Sunderland will be hoping to rekindle it, and that may begin against Arsenal on Saturday.
The Gunners could also have a new face available, should Mohamed Elneny complete his move from FC Basel before the weekend.