Martin O’Neill will be without Carlos Cuellar (hamstring) from the heart od his defence, so Titus Bramble will continue alongside John O’Shea.
The Irishman will captain the team in Lee Cattermole’s (knee) absence, although the Stockton-born midfielder could make a return to the bench in this game.
Wes Brown (knee) is a long-term absentee for the Black Cats and Danny Graham is likely to once again feature from the bench following his deadline day move from Swansea.
Arsene Wenger is facing somewhat of a crisis in central defence with Laurent Koscielny (calf) and Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) facing a race to be fit. If neither are available it could mean a rare appearance for Ignasi Miquel or Sebastien Squillaci.
The Gunners are also without Kieran Gibbs (thigh) and Francis Coquelin (hamstring), while Aaron Ramsey is doubtful after missing Wales’ midweek friendly with Austria due to a calf strain.
Theo Walcott was substituted in England’s win over Brazil after a heavy collision with Julio Cesar, but i expected to be fine for the clash at the Stadium of Light.
- Steven Fletcher has scored the first goal of the game six times this season – more often than any other Premier League player.
- Stephane Sessegnon, meanwhile, has been fouled more often than any other player this season – a total of 61 times thus far.
- Arsenal have made 13 errors leading to a goal in the Premier League this season; more than any other team in the league.
- The Gunners have also tended to start their games badly; if only the second half of Premier League fixtures counted this season, Arsenal would be second, only two points behind Manchester City.
- Lukas Podolski (pictured right) has played a part in 10 goals over his last eight Premier League appearances for Arsenal (four goals and six assists).