Lee Johnson is embracing the challenge of Sunderland’s Carabao Cup quarter final at Arsenal this evening.
The Black Cats are the only non-Premier League team left in the competition and will be hoping to stifle the in-form Gunners.
Sunderland have hauled themselves out of a bit of a rut over the last month or so and can take confidence from their previous performances in the League Cup this season that they can compete at The Emirates Stadium.
The Wearside club have never won a match at The Emirates but with the carrot of a lucrative two-legged semi final with another Premier League side it is set to be a very entertaining spectacle.
Johnson outlined his faith in the squad when he spoke to ChronicleLive.
He said: “Our challenge is to disrupt Arsenal enough so that we can get some sort of flow when we’re on the ball.
“We’ve got good players – the midfield three, we’ve got good ball manipulators out wide, the forwards can hold the ball but they can also run.
“I don’t think it’s an easy game for anyone when they play Sunderland, but obviously the proof is in the pudding and we have to see how we get on tonight.”
Arsenal have won their last three on the bounce and looked imperious as they put Leeds United to the sword 4-1 at the weekend.
Quiz: Have Sunderland signed a player from each of these 20 clubs in the last 5 seasons?
An exciting match of this magnitude has been a long time coming, Sunderland are currently in their fifth season since relegation from the top-flight and a reminder of their former glory in a trip to The Emirates will lift the spirits of the players and the fan base. It is an opportunity for the precocious talents within the squad, the likes of Dan Neil, Callum Doyle and Nathan Broadhead to shine in the spotlight and put Sunderland back on the map.
It will be interesting to see what kind of strength of side Mikel Arteta chooses to take on Sunderland, the visitors will be harnessing the sense of occasion far more than those lining up against them and command respect for their place in the last eight of the competition.