Sunderland boss Steve Bruce defends team selection

Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole heads toward goal, but the attempt is saved by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny
Sunderland took on Arsenal without a recognised striker, losing 2-1, although Lee Cattermole missed this chance to give the Wearsiders the lead during the game

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has defended his decision to line up without a recognised striker in Sunday's 2-1 defeat at Arsenal.

Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-Won were left out as Bruce opted for winger Stephane Sessegnon as a lone forward with Nicklas Bendtner ineligible.

"I thought Sessegnon would cause them problems," Bruce told BBC Newcastle.

"I pondered Ji, but he's been half-way around the world [with South Korea] and Connor has had a groin problem."

Wickham and Ji were summer arrivals, the former costing an initial £8.1m when he joined from Ipswich Town in July.

However the pair are yet to start a match between them, despite making contributions from the bench this term.

"We've got to be true to Connor, he's 18 years old," Bruce said.

"When he gets his chance, for instance if he'd had his chance last time out [against West Brom] in a difficult atmosphere at a difficult stadium, we've got to remember he's only 18.

"When he is ready I'll give him his chance, he's looked better today when he came on which is good because when we unleash him he'll be very good."

The Wearsiders lie 17th in the Premier League after the 2-1 loss, their fourth in eight league games, with a 4-0 home win against Stoke the sole success.

"We have to weather the storm," Bruce continued.

"I know I've got a decent squad, an honest group of players, and if we stick with it then it will be OK."

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