PDC's Arsenal preview

by Stuart Vose

Boss on Saturday's game, progress during break and Fletcher.

Paolo Di Canio has relished the chance to work with his squad during the international break ahead of this weekend’s game against Arsenal.

A number of players have been away with their countries but a sizeable contingent remained behind, including the likes of Fabio Borini and Ki Sung-Yueng.

And the Black Cats have been busy on the training ground ahead of Saturday’s game at the Stadium of Light.

“For the players that remained in here [during the break] we have had some very good sessions and taken advantage,” he said.

“We have had full immersion in terms of strategy and tactics. We are still a work in progress.

“Now the transfer market has finished we can work with the players we have. This is the squad which will be together at a minimum until January.

“We have recovered also some players who have maybe been out with a light injury.

“It has been a good moment to recover energy and work on details.”

Meanwhile Di Canio’s attacking options have been boosted after Steven Fletcher made a successful return from injury against Crystal Palace last time out.

The Scot, who was Sunderland’s top scorer last season, marked his comeback with a goal in his first game since hurting his ankle in March.

And Di Canio says the former Wolves man is available again for this weekend’s game and says his importance to the side is clear for all to see.

“Steven was crucial in some ways when he came on against Crystal Palace,” he said. “He caused problems for the opposing defence.

“To play from the kick-off, to run on and off the ball and work hard for your team-mates costs something in terms of energy.

“That does not mean he is not fit. He can play; we will see during the game.

“He is fit enough to cause problems, score a goal and give more belief to our players and his team-mates next to him that when the ball arrives there he can score.

“We saw straight away against Crystal Palace that Steven is a very important player.”

Saturday’s opponents have won two and lost one of their first three games and travel north in the wake of the £42.5m signing of Real Madrid star Mezut Ozil.

Di Canio says the German international is a good addition to a talented squad and feels hard work and application is what his side must produce in order to counter the North London club.

“He [Ozil] is a naturally talented player – a champion,” he said. “Arsenal have many, many good players and he is another one. We have to be careful because they have obvious quality.

“They play good football and have quality in every area of the field. We have to play as a team – a strong unit – and try to damage them in the way we can.”