Premier League

O'Neill wary of Gunners

Black Cats manager understands threat which Arsenal pose

Arsene Wenger and Martin O'Neill: Old foes meet again at the Stadium of Light

Arsene Wenger and Martin O'Neill: Old foes meet again at the Stadium of Light

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Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has warned his players Arsenal are not a one-man team ahead of their double-header starting on Saturday.

O'Neill's unbeaten home record as Black Cats boss will go on the line as the Gunners travel to the Stadium of Light for successive weekends with a Premier League tie on Saturday before an FA Cup fifth round clash the following week.

However, Arsenal travel to the North East boosted by an emphatic 7-1 demolition of Blackburn at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday with Robin van Persie netting a hat-trick.

Despite the Dutchman's imperious form taking his goal tally to 28 for the season in all competitions, O'Neill has warned his team they will have to do more than just stop Van Persie.

"That is too simplistic," he said. "They have enough talent in their team. They are playing Champions League football next week, which is a credit to them.

"They have qualified once again into the latter stages of the competition, so I am not so sure that one man could just carry that on his own.

Talent

"They have talent, they have a bit of pace in their team as well, and their victory last week will give them encouragement and confidence for the rest of the season."

Sunderland will also be faced with the challenge of 18-year-old attacker Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who bagged a brace against Blackburn last time out and Northern Irishman O'Neill has been impressed by the youngster.

"I saw him play a couple of weeks ago against Leeds United in the FA Cup and I was really impressed with him," he added.

"There is a difference between having respect for your opponents which we have to have because we are not really good enough to treat anybody without it and having a part of the fear removed because you are actually doing okay yourselves."

Martin O'Neill

Quotes of the week

"He's very, very strong, he is very quick, he seems to know what it's all about and for one so young, he looks as if he has got a real future ahead of him."

Although in a sparkling run of form on home turf, O'Neill is wary that dangers will lie around the corner at some point.

"If you win some matches, you get that confidence that we talked about and self-belief, and those things are pretty important when you are going into football games," he said.

Respect

"But there is a difference between having respect for your opponents which we have to have because we are not really good enough to treat anybody without it and having a part of the fear removed because you are actually doing okay yourselves.

"That's been the case in point, but we could come unstuck here against Arsenal very, very easily. Other teams have over recent times, so it could be a problem for us.

"But we are going into the game in a great frame of mind, anyway."

O'Neill and his opposite number Arsene Wenger are old adversaries with a long-running rivalry but respect always remains between the two.

"There's a bit of bickering at this moment because they haven't won a trophy in the last few years, but he has been a fantastic manager," he added.

"Sometimes in the heat of the moment, things like that might be forgotten, but he has been a great manager for a long, long time and he continues to be so."