Ferdinand ready for stiff test
Anton Ferdinand is preparing for a stern mental test when Arsenal visit the Stadium of Light.
Last Updated: 17/09/10 1:56pm
Sunderland defender Anton Ferdinand is preparing for a stern mental test when Arsenal visit the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
The Black Cats go into the game on the back of a three-match unbeaten run in all competitions and remain undefeated at home this term.
But it will be tough against an unbeaten Arsenal side who have won all their games following a 1-1 opening day draw at Liverpool and showed their well-being when thrashing Braga 6-0 in the UEFA Champions League in midweek.
The 25-year-old Ferdinand is a veteran of many battles with the Gunners over his career with West Ham and now Sunderland and he is expecting another stiff test on Saturday.
He said: "I tend to come off the pitch against Arsenal more mentally tired than physically tired because against Arsenal, it is about the game in your head.
"If you are switched on mentally and you are concentrating for the full 90 minutes, then you are going to come off very tired, whereas against a Stoke or a West Ham, it's not just a mental game, it is a physical game.
"I am not saying Arsenal isn't physical - it is because the pace they have that goes through the team is phenomenal.
"But as a defender, you have to come off that pitch mentally tired. If you come off the pitch mentally tired, then you know you have done well."
Sunderland can take confidence from a 1-0 home win over the Gunners last season, while Ferdinand also has an impressive personal record against Arsene Wenger's side.
He added: "Luckily, I do have quite a good record against Arsenal from my days at West Ham, being the last team to beat them at Highbury and the first team to beat them at the Emirates.
"Not many players can say that against a fantastic team like that.
"But they do have a hard time when they come to the Stadium of Light and we have got to make sure that hard time continues.
"Last year, we had a great result against them, but this is another year with another team.
"We have both got new signings, new players in the team, so it is going to be a different game."
Ferdinand has forced his way back into the side after a major bust-up with manager Steve Bruce on the eve of the new campaign and he is grateful to the Black Cats boss for giving him a chance to show his worth.
He added: "I am thankful to the gaffer for not holding any grudges over what happened.
"He has got to take a lot of credit for that because a lot of managers would hold a grudge, but he didn't.
"He gave me the opportunity and I knew with my performances that I could really pay him back, and at the moment, that's happening.
"Hopefully, that can continue."