Ferdinand ready to use his head
The 25-year-old and his team-mates face the unenviable task of having to tame the Gunners at the Stadium of Light just three days after seeing them plunder six goals without reply against Champions League rivals Braga. That was the second time this season Arsene Wenger's men had scored half-a-dozen at the Emirates Stadium, and the fact that they did it without Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott demonstrated the depth of the Frenchman's squad. Ferdinand knows from experience just how difficult it can be to play against Arsenal, but admits that unlike some of their Premier League rivals, the challenge can be mental rather than physical. 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 do not have to go back too far in the search for inspiration as they approach arguably one of their toughest home games of the campaign. The Gunners last arrived on Wearside on November 21 last year with high hopes, but left 90 minutes later on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline with Darren Bent's lone strike enough to ensure that the three points remained in the north-east. That was one of a series of famous victories for the Black Cats over illustrious opponents last season - Liverpool and Tottenham also headed home empty-handed - and Manchester City became their latest high-profile victims in the last fixture at the Stadium of Light. But Ferdinand, who was introduced as a late substitute in last season's encounter, has an impressive personal record against the Gunners. He said: "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 is preparing for Saturday's game having forced his way back into the picture after a major bust-up with manager Steve Bruce on the eve of the new campaign. He had been linked for several months with a move away from the club, which never transpired, and it is common knowledge that the pair had words. However, the defender, who was initially not given a squad number, was recalled for the Carling Cup clash with Colchester on August 24, and has been there ever since. He said: "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."