Is Sunderland a home banker for Arsenal?

By Avenell Dave

Winning football matches is something us Arsenal Addicts have taken for granted over the years.

2011 will go down as the year when that changed and the absence of truly world class personnel all over the pitch tends to suggest things will get harder, not easier, for us to stay in the top four.

I'm getting so frustrated with all the rumours that we 'nearly' signed Yoann Gourcuff and 'almost' signed Eden Hazard or Marvin Martin.

The fact is, we signed none of them and we have a squad that seems to lack the star quality capable of competing for the title.

Just look at M*nure's bench yesterday - Valencia, Shr*k, Nani, Hernandez, Carrick...players who would probably walk into our team and be first names week in week out. M*nure can afford to rest players and mix it up.

The fact that our first team is worse on paper than M*nure's bench says it all, but I still remain hopeful that if the promise of some of our young players - namely Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ryo Miyaichi and even Carl Jenkinson - quickly turns into real quality, we have a chance to surprise a few people.

But the main problem is that we don't have time for these youngsters to mature and more senior players, such as RvP and even the still young and indifferent Theo Walcott won't wait around forever for potential to become consistent talent.

Today we face a Sunderland side who have struggled this season.

It's interesting to note that their best player cannot play this afternoon - one Nick Bendtner - and regardless of how good he is or isn't, former players tend to come back to haunt us, so I'm glad he isn't playing this afternoon.

This should be as easy a game as the Bolton game at home, but in lee Cattermole, they have a player who has a reputation for causing havoc for all the wrong reasons.

If one of his tackles results in us losing a player through injury, the 'not that kind of player' label just won't wash.

I'd like to see us wrap the game up early and then let RvP have a rest and if Oxo is going to establish himself, this is the kind of game where he can start to find his Premier League feet.

I'm yearning to see Ryo miyaichi and Park at some point, because we need more strength in depth, but I fear it will be a while.

If rumours of Maraoune Chamakh's return to France are true, let's hope someone breaks through or is signed because our firepower is particularly muted if RvP is absent.

COME ON YOU GUNNERS!

Addict XI

Szczesny

Jenkinson Koscielny Mertesacker Gibbs

Ramsey Arteta Song

Oxlade-Chamberlain RvP Arshavin

What do you think? Who should play this afternoon for Arsenal? Let us know in the comments below