Five questions with Simon Walsh of The Roker Report

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: Sunderland manager Steve Bruce shakes hands with Arsene Wenger of of Arsenal after the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on March 5, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Hey, look, everyone--Arsenal host Sunderland on Sunday in a real-life, actual English Premier League match! Well, I'll be darned. Ahead of the match, Simon Walsh of SBNation's Sunderland blog The Roker Report was kind enough to take some time to ask questions from the editors here. Be sure to check out Mr. Walsh's match preview over at RR, by the way. Without further ado, the questions:

You've written a few articles about possible Steve Bruce successors; do you think his time is nearing an end?

He's on thin ice, and the sun is rising. There's no doubting he's brought in some great players, but at the same time there's still a lot of questions to be answered. There doesn't appear to be any real plan to our play, no defining tactic, we just seem to live in hope the other team are worse than us.

What's also worrying is the fact we can't seem to hang on to big names such as Gyan, Bent and so forth. We all know they'll move on eventually, but it's the manner in which they've been allowed to go.

It's not exactly crunch time for Bruce yet, but defeat on Sunday coupled with anything less than four points from Bolton and Villa and he could well be looking for a new job.

What do you think of Nicklas Bendtner so far? Can he and Sessegnon replace Gyan's output for the Black Cats?

Bendtner has been very good so far, I've actually been surprised. He's had many detractors in the past, but I'm yet to see why. His physicality is a match for most defenders, whilst he has an incredible first touch. It's very early doors, and this may be a bold statement but arguably we haven't had a player of that mould since Niall Quinn.

As for Sessegnon, he's far and away our most talented player, and one of the few creative sparks in the team. between them, they could easily score as many as Gyan. I'd actually expect them to combine for more than Gyan. Much more.

What has Sebastian Larsson, another former Arsenal player, brought to your squad that you might not have had before?

Set pieces, and crossing. That's about it in all honesty. He's a good little grafter, but sadly we're not using him in his rightful position. Certainly a welcome addition to the squad though. We've had superb deadball players before; Andy Reid and Nicky Summerbee spring to mind, and Larsson is somewhere in between those too. Not as fast as Summerbee, or as good a crosser, and not as portly as Reid, but can strike a mean freekick when he wants to.

Did you ever think that Arsenal/Sunderland would be a crucial relegation six-pointer for both teams?

Nope, and mainly because it isn't. Arsenal will be fine, they always are. I realize this question is probably in jest*, but it does stick in my craw when Arsenal fans are whinging on radio phone-ins and such that "boohoo, we haven't won anything for 6 years"... Try 40 years of mediocrity interspersed with complete bollocks and come back to me. My heart bleeds for you that they ran out of Latte's at half-time during (another) Champions League quarter final.

Note that's not directed at you, just the general populous. 

*[Ed. note: it was very much in jest].

Do you have a prediction for Sunday?

I think the game will be a relatively dull 2-0 Arsenal win. On the final whistle, everyone will remember Arsenal are quite a good team whilst we continue to unfairly grumble about everything. Looking even further ahead, Arsenal come third, we come thirteenth and the universe is in perfect harmony once again.

This is just one of those games where everything will go as expected I fear.

Again, many thanks to Simon, and good luck to everyone on Sunday.
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