Sunderland travel to Arsenal for their opening game of the 2012/13 Premier League season.
The Black Cats started slowly last term and were struggling at the midway point, before Martin O'Neill replaced Steve Bruce as manager and revived their fortunes.
They could not maintain that form right until the end of the season but hopes are still high that they can improve on a 13th-placed finish, despite a relatively quiet transfer window.
Carlos Cuellar has arrived to bolster the defence and Louis Saha was signed on Thursday on a free transfer after leaving Tottenham earlier in the summer.
The Gunners completed a seventh straight year without any silverware in May and the challenge now is to mount a stronger push for honours over the coming 12 months.
That challenge has not been helped by an uncomfortable few months in the transfer window, which is becoming a recurring theme after the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri last year.
The latest big-name player to leave is inspirational captain Robin van Persie, who is heading to Manchester United after revealing that he would not be signing an extension to his Arsenal contract because of a 'disagreement over the way the club should move forward'.
The Dutchman's exit leaves a huge void - 30 Premier League goals last season - but Wenger has at least recruited a number of new attacking recruits in the shape of Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and the versatile Santi Cazorla.
If Arsenal's preparations for the season opener have been disrupted, Sunderland will look to take advantage and get their own campaign off to a winning start.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 17 league games against Sunderland
- Martin O'Neill has only won one of 16 Premier League meetings with Arsene Wenger as a manager
- Arsenal scored more goals in the opening 15 minutes than any other team in the 2011-12 Premier League
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