By Connor Armstrong
"It’s a learning curve for us all and for the players it’s a step up from last year." - Steve Gatting
THE STORY SO FAR
The Gunners go into tonight’s match having won two of their opening six matches of the season, a return which sees them occupy 10th place.
Steve Gatting’s side suffered three consecutive defeats - to Reading, Manchester City and Liverpool - before picking up their first win of the season with a 3-1 win over Derby County.
With a number of players called up by Arsene Wenger for the EFL Cup tie at Nottingham Forest, a youthful side comprised largely of under-18s lost 5-0 against high-flying Everton.
We followed that up with a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Southampton at Meadow Park, before losing 1-0 away to Manchester United on Monday night.
ONE TO WATCH
Krystian Bielik has caught the eye this season, earning a place in the squad for the EFL Cup ties against Nottingham Forest and Reading.
The Polish defender - who arrived at the club as a midfielder - has impressed Arsene Wenger this campaign after catching the eye during the club’s pre-season tour of the United States.
A strong, commanding presence in defence, Bielik is equally assured on the ball and is a thoroughly modern centre half.
He has routinely captained Gatting’s side and is expected to do so once again against the Black Cats on Friday evening.
Sunderland arrive at Meadow Park having suffered back-to-back defeats. In that time the Black Cats have shipped seven goals, losing 4-2 to Manchester City and 3-0 to Liverpool.
However, prior to those two setbacks tonight’s visitors had won three matches in a row, having drawn their opening game of the season.
Managed by Andy Welsh, the north-east outfit are currently fifth in the table, five points off top spot.
Follow the action
For live updates from this evening's match, follow @Arsenal on Twitter.
Kick-off is at 7pm (UK time) at Meadow Park.
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