LONDON (Sporting Alert) — Arsenal will begin life without former captain and leading striker Robin van Persie in Saturday’s Barclays Premier League opener against Sunderland.
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Van Persie completed a shocking move from Arsenal to Manchester United on Friday and manager Arsene Wenger is now looking to his new recruits to quickly step into that goalscoring role ahead of what could be a very difficult season.
The way is now paved for German forward Lukas Podolski, who is expected to start and Olivier Giroud to show the boss that they are capable delivering in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Arsenal will assess forward Theo Walcott (thigh) ahead of the clash, while Jack Wilshere (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (tendon) and Bacary Sagna (leg) are all out of the contest.
There will also be some monitoring on new signing Santi Cazorla, who only just returned after his trip to Puerto Rico with the Spanish national team.
“We have a few tests today because some players came back today [from internationals] and played 90 minutes, like Cazorla in Puerto Rico. Some players like Song have little knocks. We will see about them today,” Wenger said on www.arsenal.com.
Meanwhile, Sunderland could give striker Louis Saha his debut with manager Martin O’Neill looking to field a strong team.
In other news, Phil Bardsley (ankle), Wes Brown (knee ligaments) and David Vaughan (surgery) are all set to miss the game.
PREDICTION: Arsenal 3 Sunderland 1
Arsenal v Sunderland Teams
Arsenal (squad): Szczesny, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Song, Arteta, Cazorla, Gervinho, Podolski, Walcott, Fabianski, Santos, Diaby, Rosicky, Ramsey, Coquelin, Arshavin, Giroud.
Sunderland (squad): Westwood, Mignolet, Cattermole, Larsson, Gardner, Campbell, Wickham, Richardson, Kilgallon, Colback, O’Shea, Ji, Meyler, Bramble, McClean, Elmohamady, Saha, Cuellar.