By Chris Harris
Mikael Silvestre expects Sunderland to provide a severe test of Arsenal's title credentials on Saturday.
The Black Cats lie eighth in the Premier League and have been a tough nut to crack at the Stadium of Light this season, winning four of their six home fixtures so far.
Liverpool succumbed on Wearside last month and Silvestre believes Arsenal will need to be at their best to avoid a similar fate. As far as the Frenchman is concerned, Steve Bruce's team are one of the top-flight's most improved teams.
"They are doing really well and I think Steve Bruce made a fantastic job over there," Silvestre told Arsenal TV Online.
"They have a good crowd too and it is a good test for us. It is going to be after an international break so it won't be easy. The atmosphere is going to be really hot and hard for us so we have to make sure we don't concede a goal, control the game, and then we will find a way to score.
"Sunderland are proof that the Premier League is more competitive now. That's why it is one of the most attractive leagues in the world. You don't see much of a difference between the teams who are first, second and third in the league and the ones that are 10th, 11th or 12th. "
Subscribers can now watch our full exclusive interview with Mikael on Arsenal TV Online. He discusses:
- his assessment of Arsenal's season so far
- the threat of Chelsea
- the signs that the team is maturing
- why Arsenal are conceding more goals this season
- the Vermaelen-Gallas partnership
- playing a bit-part role so far
- why he must be patient
- the pressure to perform when he plays
- helping the team in other ways
- this weekend's trip to Sunderland