FA Cup holders Arsenal enter preparations to retain their crown for the second consecutive season, though the Gunners have now seemingly moved up another level to challenge for the Premier League.
As they look to kick off a dominant defence, the North London side play host to Sunderland, struggling towards the bottom of the league. Still, the magic of the cup knows no bounds in terms of giant killing, so the Black Cats are by no means already written off.
Despite their recent dominance in this competition, the Gunners are always susceptible to an upset. Sam Allardyce and his side will take heart from the fact that star man Alexis Sanchez continues to miss out with an injury as they look to put their league woes behind them.
Interestingly, Arsene Wenger’s first ever game in the FA Cup came against the Wearside outfit in 1997, while he was finding his feet in England.
Want to know more? Here are FOUR facts you absolutely NEED to know about Arsenal vs Sunderland.
Though the magic of the cup is one of the things that make it such a big deal, Sunderland are fighting the form book in this tie. The last time Arsenal failed to progress from this stage in the FA Cup was in 1996, when Sheffield United beat them 1-0 in a replay at Bramall Lane.
A fourth Premier League crown may have eluded Arsene Wenger so far, but the Frenchman has enjoyed more success than anyone in the FA Cup during his time in England. The Gunners chief has won the trophy a record SIX times, more than most teams in their entire history!
As you might expect, seeing as they’ve won it twice in a row, Arsenal have been thoroughly dominant in the FA Cup in recent seasons. In fact, the last time they lost a game within its bounds was in 2013, almost three years and 12 games ago, to Blackburn Rovers of all sides!
You might be forgiven, while reading this, in thinking that Sunderland do not have a cat’s chance in hell of winning today. However, the last time these two teams met in the FA Cup, it was the Black Cats who came out winners.
They won 2-0 at the Stadium of Light almost four years ago.