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Sunderland 0 Arsenal 1: arguably our best win of the season

WELL I don’t know about you but I haven’t screamed at an Arsenal game like that for a very long time. For this afternoon at least the (comparatively) zennish state of semi-detached calm acceptance that has typified my Arsenal viewing for the previous couple of years was shunted to one side and it was hello again to the primeval, mouth-foaming, remonstrating young me sat on my own on a Saturday afternoon in a random pub, a Kanu era inspired Nigerian Gooner who’d only come for a quiet afternoon my best friend/sounding board for 90 minutes.

And why was this so? Because Arsenal so deserved to win this game. We’d scored and spurned oodles of other chances that largely fell under the heading of “unlucky” rather than “inept”. We’d had an utterly schizophrenic ref who had decided that Carl Jenkinson would get no leeway for two undoubtedly rash tackles, while Sunderland would get virtual carte-blanche to kick whatever they wanted out of our players. And then when Jenkinson had departed and we needed to show character and spirit – traits more often spouted than seen around the club in recent years – we did in abundance.

If our spirit was enough to win me over, it was Sunderland’s tactics that had me screaming lunatic like at the telly. The kindest thing I can say about them is that they were akin to Stoke’s ugly half-sister and frankly even that statement has had to be run past the lawyers.

Player wise, Szczesny made two great saves when called on late on. Monreal was pretty decent again and Mertsersacker must take credit for marshaling the makeshift defence, even if his continued turning his back on a ball fired vaguely in his direction makes me livid. Jenkinson was a late call-up into the side in place of the injured Koscielny and looked it: neither tackle was wise, both seemed avoidable initially.

Sagna, perhaps not at his best of late, looked like a centre-back and battled bravely. The point about why we don’t have a fourth central defender that we’re prepared to play is a valid one but can wait for another day.

Arteta was quietly himself and Wilshere was running the show until injury (seemingly the product of more Sunderland fouling) ended his afternoon. Ramsey was more direct and forward moving that at other times and when he moved to right-back he was nothing short of heroic, defending as if he’d always been there and still able to contribute going forward at the right moments.

The front three (Cazorla, Giroud and Theo) all spurned chances and chances to make chances but all put in good shifts. The goal was a thing of beauty, the driving run from Wilshere, a thoughtful Theo layoff and a low driven shot from Cazorla. Very nicely done.

We’ve had some big wins this season but I can’t think (with the possible exception of Spurs) of a more impressive one.

Spirit, character, resilience: take your pick Mr Wenger.

27 Responses to “Sunderland 0 Arsenal 1: arguably our best win of the season”

  1. Rasjjr says:

    Serious case of looking through rose tinted glasses here. Sunderland out passed and outplayed Aresnal in the second half and ony a brilliant DEFENSIVE performance stopped Sunderland scoring….. Nothing to do with the ref. Everytime sess received the ball he was fouled, time and time again. a nice bit of biased reporting though!!

  2. Elvis says:

    Agree. Great to see some pride in the shirt. Classy first half and gritty second half. Deserved victory.

  3. NigerianGunner says:

    I culdn’t add anyting else! Heroic per4manc from the gunners.albeit not a classic Arsenal performance,the 3 points was all that matters anyway.Victoria Concordia Crescit

  4. Norms says:

    Since when did O’niel attend evening classes given by fat Sam and rat Pullis?? The ref was terrible and once again Arsenal were faced with a man intent on allowing the opposition as much leeway as he could get away with. They should have had 3 red cards including one in the opening minute.

    So proud of this win!!

  5. Esso says:

    This is your best blog in more than a long time. More please!

  6. Begeegs says:

    Once Jack left the field, did things start to go a bit pear shaped. However, even then, did we have more than a few gilt-edge chances to miss. I did enjoy this performance in that Bacary played out of his skin and Ramsey had a very good match, despite giving the ball away in the middle of the park.

    Giroud, however, had an afternoon to forget – he wastes so many chances – we are begging for Wenger to break out the chequebook this summer. As much as he is a decent player, he shouldn’t be first choice.

  7. Rasjjr is a FOOL says:

    Rasjjr – you talk rubbish!
    Even with 10 men Arsenal had 5-6 clear chances.
    Should’ve been 4 up at hapf time.
    Szez made TWO saves. Mignolet made about 15.
    Arsenal were outstanding in defence and their midfield run rings around Sunderland who constantly fouled to stop their flow.
    If you’re gonna speak, speak sense son. You look like a fool now!

  8. EIE says:

    WENGER OUT!

  9. slc gunner says:

    Agree, I thought it was very decent performance. Jenkinson, although not bad otherwise, was always going to get 2 yellows for those mistimed slide tackles. He has a future at Arsenal though. Loved that we didn’t have to bring in that waster Squillaci at centre half. I’ve always thought that Sagna might make a good centre half (I wouldn’t say the same about Clichy, Gibbs and others) – he’s so good in the air and is all about defending. Similar to Carlos Puyol in many ways, who really is a converted full back. Hope this can be the start of a goof run for the man.
    I thought Cazorla was the pick of the bunch though, excellent throughout.
    Not sure what game Rasjir was watching, even with 10 men, we had the better chances and the game should have been out of sight by half-time.

  10. PD says:

    Esso, I assume by ‘best’ you actually mean ‘most positive’. I think it’s the team you’re therefore asking for more from then, not Goodplaya !

    I’ve been (rightly) very critical of the manager & players this season but credit when it’s due. No arguments Goodplaya, our most impressive performance of the season. First half was scintillating stuff but we know we can do that. What we didn’t know was whether with things going against us could we grind out a win. All the evidence this season to date has said we can’t, so heartwarming to see us finally show some real grit. Jack off injured (best player on the pitch again til then), down to 10 men, Ramsey at right back, Sagna at centre-half (best player on the pitch once Jack went off) & a guy with the club one week only at left back. You would have been a brave man to say confidently we would hang on.
    Huge well done all. Now to show this wasn’t a one-off please…..

  11. Wallace says:

    love the intro. maybe we can give Munich a decent game…

  12. longtallgooner says:

    Good to be able to sing “to the Arsenal 1-0 again”, just to settle the nerves and demonstrate that grit and resilience have not left our game altogether. The questions over the back, central spine of the team still remain however, given that Fletcher in particular missed some good chances for Sunderland. Anyway, good result.

  13. MDP says:

    Having read about Adebayor’s late return from the African Cup of Nations and considering his clear lack of respect and commitment for every club he’s played for, this game highlighted that Arsenal are at least freeing themselves of the troublemakers that blighted recent season’s. The core of players at Arsenal are showing they really give a shit, want to play for their club and are prepared to work their arses off.

  14. PD says:

    MDP, let’s not get carried away yet. There’s been a lot of performances in the last couple of months where I’ve felt Jack has embarrassed the hell out of some of his teammates (in some games you could argue it was most, if not all of them) by how much more effort he was showing than them. They showed what’s needed on Saturday but it’s very premature to say they are ‘showing’ it – they need to do it a hell of a lot more regularly before we can state that.

  15. MDP says:

    True, Jack puts a lot of players to shame, at Arsenal and beyond and he is a cut above when it comes to shear effort for the cause. He has that competitive edge that most “world class” players have, comparable to Gerrard or Rooney.

    My point is that players like Adebayor, Chamakh, Arshavin etc seem happy to put in 50% and pick up a huge salary. It appears to me that this type of player is thankfully filtering out of Arsenal. There’s still plenty of room for improvement but the attitude within the squad is good. The defeats of late have been down to stupid errors and poor squad depth, not necessarily a lack of effort and commitment. This showed in the Sunderland game and if Arsenal are to finish in the top 4 we need more of the same… Please.

    For this reason, I’m glad that M’villa for example didn’t arrive in January, although talented, he’s the kind of player and troublemaker we’ve seen before and don’t need. On the other hand, why a club like Arsenal couldn’t do a deal for Capoue is baffling, but anyway, that’s a debate for another day…

  16. PD says:

    I really hope Jack doesn’t play v Blackburn. If he does, I fear Arsene is going down the same road he went with Cesc. i.e. playing him too much & his injuries becoming too frequent as a result. If we don’t have enough to rest one player & still be able to beat Blackburn that would be a sad reflection on our squad. Really hope Kos is fit too so Vermaelen can rest up before Bayern. If he misses Bayern, I really don’t know who will play left back.
    Not that I don’t want to beat Blackburn. You could argue it’s actually a much more important game given our relative chances of winning the two competitions…

  17. PD says:

    MDP, care to rein in your previous comments a bit ? An awful lot of this squad are an absolute fucking disgrace. Yet again another complacent, lazy performance. The worst thing is that for all Arsene’s talk of improvement & lessons being learned we’ve neither improved nor learned any lessons.
    I’ve wanted Arsene gone now for 18 months. I have though always understood why people would argue against that up to now. Frankly, anyone who watched that today – given the Bradford result in the league cup & given the desperately urgent need this club has for a trophy – & still believes Arsene should remain as manager is an idiot. it really is that clear – there is absolutely no justification for defending him now.
    Wenger out.

  18. Elvis says:

    Arsenal 0-1 Blackburn: arguably our worst defeat of the season

  19. PD says:

    There’s some competition for that award Elvis !
    The defeat at Norwich where we hardly had a shot, being totally outplayed & extremely lucky to only lose 2-0 at home v Schalke, the defeat at Old Trafford where we were so bad even Ferguson was disappointed in us, being totally outplayed & extremely lucky to only lose 2-0 at home v Swansea, out of the league cup to Bradford (a League Two team ffs), Man City & Chelsea – beaten in both games within half an hour within a week (despite the usual arsenal.com PR bluster about learning lessons in between the two games)….but yeah, 1-0 at home to Blackburn is definitely a candidate.
    But look on the bright side, this team has unbelievable quality & has the greatest focus of any team Arsene’s ever managed so all is ok – right ???

  20. BarbadosGrey&Overcast says:

    LOST FOR WORDS……..

    P.D please send me 6 lotto numbers, as it seems everything you say comes true, read some of your previous posts about getting carried away after the Sunderland game (ffs)
    How right you where, hurts me to say!

    ONLY GOD CAN HELP US NOW! or maybe TH14 as manager & DB10 as No2.

    Lets all kneel and pray.

  21. PD says:

    Here’s a couple of predictions Barbados. Our overpaid, overpampered, underachieving prima donnas will raise themselves for Bayern cos the CL is worthy enough for them. (they’re like the supermodels who wont get out of bed for less than 10k a day)
    We’ll put in a strong performance, maybe even win. Arsene will come out after with his Smug Arsene face on & talk about how his team have proved their character & quality. (isn’t it amazing how Arsene & his AKBs always lash out at ‘over-reaction’ to bad results but think nothing of doing the same themselves after a good one ?)
    The players will then feed off that smugness & we’ll see a first half performance v Villa as lacking in desire & drive as yesterday’s. (hey, we beat Bayern, we don’t have to work hard to beat Aston Villa – they’re rubbish !)
    The fans will be angry again & Arsene will talk about how his team have to raise themselves/prove their character v Spurs…….and the endless cycle of our team getting worse & worse every season will continue……

    The Board should all be sacked on the spot for not talking to Arsene after Bradford & saying ‘enough is enough. We’re going after Guardiola. And if we get him, you’re gone in the summer.’

  22. PD says:

    So beat Bradford & we would have had a two-leg semi against a Villa team desperately struggling. Beat Blackburn & would have had Millwall in an FA Cup quarter. Sigh……

  23. slc gunner says:

    in an exercise in self-torture, i just watched the game again. what was glaringly obvious was our inability to cross the ball well. chamberlain in particular, but also monreal, gervinho and others. also the lack of players in the box. surely that’s when we need to go 4-2-4 or maybe 3-5-2 (3-3-4), but it was only giroud most of the time.
    i would love to see a stat on our conversion rate from corners. must be one of the worst in the league.

  24. RealisticGunner says:

    PD YOU ARE SO SPOT ON BRO!!

    It IS a vicious circle and most ARE brainwashed with the board to shook to pull him up on it

    Anyway dnt worry – no matter his much he damages the club it will have to come to an end ..hopefully lol

  25. RealisticGunner says:

    Slc gunner

    No mate – our conversion rate IS the worst in the world lol

  26. RealisticGunner says:

    PD you jus articulate it so accurately mate – hats off to summarising our ongoing decline so perfectly

  27. Gooner Steve says:

    Excuse me for blowing my own trumpet, but I blogged about the vicious circle you guys so accurately talk about six weeks ago:

    http://www.oohtobeagooner.com/southampton-1-arsenal-1-same-old-story-for-sloppy-gunners/

    Good result and performance v Sunderland leads to complete lack of effort and focus v Blackburn. So predictable and so disappointing.

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