February 9, 2013
McClean set to miss Arsenal clash
Team Stat Comparison
|Goals for *||1.1||1.3|
|Goals against *||1.0||0.7|
|Last 5 home||D-D-W-L-D||W-D-D-W-W|
|Last 5 away||L-L-W-L-L||W-W-W-W-W|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Sunderland | Arsenal|
Sunderland winger James McClean is almost certainly out of the Barclays Premier League clash with Arsenal.
The 23-year-old, who has not started the last three games, injured his ankle on Republic of Ireland duty in midweek and is unlikely to make the game.
However, defender Carlos Cuellar could be back from the hamstring problem which has sidelined him since January 5, although the Gunners' trip to the Stadium of Light could come too soon for midfielder Lee Cattermole (knee), despite his return to training.
The Gunners will arrive on Wearside sitting in sixth place in the Premier League table, four points adrift of arch-rivals Tottenham in fourth, and hoping to repeat their victory at the Stadium of Light last season, which was secured by a late strike by loan signing Thierry Henry.
They returned a week later and lost an FA Cup fifth-round tie 2-0, but O'Neill insists neither game will be relevant this time around.
He said: "They have some really, really talented young players now coming to the fore - Wilshere, the improvement in his game now is there for all to see.
"They are just very, very fine players and will cause us problems.''
Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny faces a fitness test on his calf injury, but captain Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) has been ruled out.
Midfielders Aaron Ramsey (calf) and Francis Coquelin (hamstring) should be available, along with England forward Theo Walcott (foot).
Ivory Coast forward Gervinho is back from the African Nations Cup, but is not yet expected to feature. Left-back Kieran Gibbs remains out with a thigh problem.
While problems at the back continue to dog the Gunners, there are no such issues in attack, with Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski forging a formidable frontline.
"I was not convinced at the start of the season that I would play them all together,'' Wenger said.
"I am happy that slowly, they understand each other well and we are efficient in goalscoring - we have scored more goals than last year.''
Arsenal are currently sixth, a point behind Everton and four from Tottenham - two sides they have still to play again.
Wenger still has confidence his men can force their way back into the Champions League places.
He said: "We do not have to look at the others, just win our games because we are behind and therefore we just focus on trying to win."