O'Neill ready to take on task of reviving Black Cats' ailing fortunes
MARTIN O'Neill should be rubber-stamped as the new Sunderland manager within the next 24 hours. The Irishman is expected to watch from the stands as his new charges tackle Wolverhampton Wanderers tomorrow, before officially starting the task of reviving the club's fortunes 24 hours later.
Eric Black, assistant to the departed Steve Bruce, will pick the side that goes in search of only a third win of the season at Molineux, a short drive from O'Neill's West Midlands base.
The 59-year-old has spent much of the last two days thrashing out an agreement with Ellis Short during face-to-face talks in London with the Sunderland chairman, who dispensed with Bruce on Wednesday, after two and a half years in the job, due to an unacceptable run of results coupled with mounting supporter unrest.
Talks between the pair have centred on both personal terms, in addition to the parameters -- both financial and logistical -- of the role O'Neill agrees to take on his return to management 16 months after his departure from Aston Villa.
With O'Neill set to bring in his own backroom staff, Black is not expected to remain at the club for long after his single game at the helm.
Given the proximity of both clubs to the foot of the table, however, it nevertheless represents a vital three points up for grabs. "It's important that everyone is focused on the game and prepares in the right manner," Black said of an encounter that could leave the losers anchored in the bottom three.
O'Neill has been promised significant transfer funds, both in January and beyond.
One manager who won't be making signings is Arsene Wenger, who has revealed that he does not intend to buy a player during the January transfer window, despite the prospect of being short of strikers when Maroaune Chamakh and Gervinho depart for the African Cup of Nations.
"At the moment, I will do nothing in January," Wenger said. "I have a big squad, but, if you knock at my door and say, 'I have a fantastic player for you', I will not turn it down.
"If we have no injuries, we should get away with it because we have (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain, who can play there, (Ju-Young) Park, (Andrei) Arshavin and (Robin) Van Persie."
The DW Stadium has been an unhappy venue for Arsenal, with the team conceding leads in each of their past two visits. Most notably, in April 2010, they were winning 2-0 after 79 minutes and somehow contrived to lose 3-2. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Wigan v Arsenal, Live, Setanta Sports 1, 3.0
Wolves v Sunderland, Live, tomorrow, Sky Sports 1, 4.0