Gunners set sights on top-three finish with Sunderland win

Gunners set sights on top-three finish with Sunderland win

Arsenal can secure a top three finish in the Premier League tonight, with a win at home to Sunderland.

The win would mean automatic qualification to the group stage of next season's Champions League.

However, manager Arsene Wenger knows Sunderland are searching for one more point to ensure they will not be relegated.

"I expect them to be well organised defensively, be sound at the back and try to use all the attacks they can," he said.

Meanwhile, Dick Advocaat is confident Barclays Premier League survival would give Sunderland something to build upon as they attempt to end their lingering struggles.

The 67-year-old Dutchman will send his team into battle at Arsenal this evening needing a maximum of one point from the 90 minutes at the Emirates Stadium and Sunday’s final-day trip to champions Chelsea to end their fears of the drop.

That would complete a second escape in as many seasons for the Black Cats and leave Advocaat, the club’s seventh permanent – if, in his case, fleetingly for the time being – manager or head coach in six-and-a-half years, mystified as to their struggles.

He said: “For this club it is crucial to stay up, so everybody knows what they have to do for the next couple of years. This is a great club, a great stadium, the facilities here are brilliant, so everything is there to play on a different level to what they have done in the last five years.”

Advocaat has refused to discuss the possibility of extending his stay on Wearside publicly, having reportedly promised his wife that his time in England would be brief, but has revealed he will make a decision next week.

In the short term, he is hoping to complete his nine-game cameo in positive style by adding to the 11 points he has claimed from his first seven games to ensure 18th-placed Hull cannot overhaul his current employers.

Asked he was nervous, he replied: “No, excited, very excited. But it’s better for all of us, the sooner the better we get that point.

“It’s good for the club, for everybody at the club, because then they know what they have to do, because there’s a lot that has to be done here to do better, let’s say it that way.”

Sunderland will be safe regardless of what they do against the Gunners and the newly-crowned champions if Hull fail to beat Manchester United on Sunday.

But Advocaat is keen to take any anxiety out of the weekend by completing the job in the capital on a night when a draw would be good enough for the Gunners to effectively prevent United from snatching third place from their grasp, although not to give them a chance of reining in Manchester City in second.

He said: “We will give them a very difficult time, I have no doubts about that, but we have to give everything.

“But in my opinion, one point is enough for them as well and in one week they play for the FA Cup, so we will see what happens tomorrow.”

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