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The Sunderland Win, AC Milan Tie & Toral Signs Pro Deal

by on February 13, 2012

Arsenal defeated Sunderland on the weekend which was a great result for the Gunners. This is because Arsenal don’t have the of best records against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in recent seasons and since Martin O’Neill took over from Steve Bruce, Sunderland have been one of the inform teams in the Premiership recently.

In the first-half Arsenal didn’t have any real cut chances, Sunderland defended well and had all their players behind the ball. Sunderland took the lead through the talented James McClean after German international Per Mertesacker went down with an injury. Arsène Wenger said this about Mertesacker’s injury after the match “We fear ankle ligament damage“. If it’s ankle ligament damage it could be a massive blow to Arsenal, Mertesacker is a solid and reliable centre-back. The former Werder Bremen defender has suffered some criticism this season which he hasn’t deserved, his reading of the game is very underrated.

The German defender was replaced by Wales captain Aaron Ramsey, who equalised for the Gunners with a well placed strike. Arsenal’s second-half substitutes Andrey Arshavin and Thierry Henry both played vital parts for Arsenal’s winning goal which was scored by Henry. Arshavin produced a brilliant cross in injury time which Henry managed to get to the end of and score past Simon Mignolet in the Sunderland goal.

All three of Arsenal’s substitutions played pivotal roles for the Gunners to get a well deserved three points. Arsenal next play against AC Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday. AC Milan are currently the league leaders of Serie A and defeated Udinese on the weekend after coming from behind.

Arsène Wenger has got some big decisions to make for the AC Milan tie, with Mertesacker’s injury it’s likely Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny will be Arsenal’s partnership at the heart of the defence. Many Arsenal fans say it’s Arsenal’s strongest centre-back partnership but with injuries to fullbacks this season Vermaelen and Koscienly have both filled in as full-backs on a number of occasions this season. If Vermaelen does play as a centre-back then Arsène Wenger has to decide who will play at left-back. Kieran Gibbs has returned from injury and was an unused substitute against Sunderland on the weekend. Gibbs hasn’t played for the Gunners since October but his fully fit now so he could start against AC Milan. Another option would be Francis Coquelin who can operate at left-back.

Tomáš Rosický has started Arsenal’s last two games which has meant Ramsey has been on the bench for the North London side. But the Welsh midfielder scored for the Gunners against Sunderland on the weekend after coming on as a second-half substitute. I expect Ramsey to replace Rosický in the starting line-up on Wednesday.

In other news Spanish youth international Jon Toral has signed professional terms with Arsenal. The former Barcelona youth player has been very impressive for Steve Bould’s side this season and has already made his Reserve debut earlier this season. Serge Gnabry trained with the first-team today and the German U-17 international is expected to start for Arsenal Reserves tomorrow against Wolves.

You can follow me on twitter @AFC_93.

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