Arsenal face Sunderland in the Premier League at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. With Stats Zone, you can brush up on the facts and figures behind every Gunners match this season, brought to you by Opta and the Official Matchday Programme.
UNDER THE RADAR - PODOLSKI'S KEY ROLE
While Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud have hogged the headlines in recent weeks, one of Arsenal's star performers has slipped somewhat under the radar. Lukas Podolski has been in superb form and has had a hand in 10 goals in his last eight Premier League appearances (four goals, six assists) but has seen little of the limelight.
"One of Arsenal's star performers has slipped somewhat under the radar"
The German international leads the way - along with Steven Gerrard and Juan Mata - with nine assists in the top flight this season, three of them coming against West Ham alone. Podolski was in irresistible form that night, and after opening the scoring with a powerful 25-yard drive, he ran riot from the left flank.
As our chalkboard and heatmap above indicate, the 26-year-old has a tendency to drift inside when on the attack, rather than hog the touchline like a traditional winger.
This makes him an unpredictable and dangerous opponent to mark, and when Podolski finds space, he tends to make the most of it. Up against a makeshift right back in Craig Gardner at the Stadium of Light, Podolski will fancy his chances of making another key contribution for the Gunners.
KEEPING CALM - SZCZESNY V MIGNOLET
Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mognolet has won a host of plaudits this season after a string of fine performances for the Black Cats. The Belgian international has been a model of consistency and has made the second highest number of saves in the Premier League this season, 93, behind only West Ham's Jussi Jaaskelainen.
His opposite number, Wojciech Szczesny, has made fewer saves but has played nine games less than the Belgian. The time between each goal Szczesny has conceded is 75.8 minutes, compared to Mignolet's 68.2. The Polish international makes marginally fewer saves than his opposite number per game, mainly due to not being called into action as much, but has proven to be Arsenal's saviour more than once this term.
Neither side have been as tight at the back as they would have liked this season, so the roles of their respective goalkeepers could be more important than ever on Saturday. Up against a formidable opposite number, do not bet against Szczesny raising his game once more.
SUNDERLAND V ARSENAL - MATCH FACTS
- Arsenal have conceded 62 per cent of their goals in the first half of games - a league high proportion - and conceded fewer in total after the break than any other team (11)
- Just three of Arsenal’s 23 attempts at goal were on target as they drew 0-0 with Sunderland in the reverse fixture at the Emirates earlier this season
- Per Mertesacker injured his ankle ligaments on Sunderland’s poor pitch in this fixture last season and the Black Cats took advantage to open the scoring in a 2-1 defeat to the Gunners
- The Gunners have lost just one of their last nine trips to the north east in the Premier League (W3 D5 L1)
- Arsenal have won 10 and lost just one of their last 18 Premier League games against Sunderland, but they did lose in last season’s FA Cup against the Wearsiders at the Stadium of Light
- Sunderland have won just one game against a team in the top half of the table this season (W1 D5 L7)
- Sunderland’s Danny Rose scored his one and only Premier League goal with a tremendous volley on his Premier League debut against Arsenal while playing for Tottenham
- If only second half performances were taken into account, Arsenal would be second in the Premier League table to Man City on goals scored (49 points each)
- There have been fewer goals scored at the Stadium of Light than at any other Premier League ground (26), in contrast to the most being netted at Arsenal’s Stadium the Emirates (51)
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