Classy Arsenal 2 – 0 Sloppy Arsenal: Sunderland Make Up The Numbers

This was one of those games where the opposition didn’t really matter as Arsenal controlled 70 percent possession. Normally when we dominate games, we are in the high fifties or early sixties in the possession stats. The Black Cats were tame and didn’t have even a five minute spell of sustained pressure.

To me this game was about our quality in possession and what we do with it versus our mistakes in defense and what the visitors could make of it. In a way I am a little disappointed that we didn’t do more with the ball, especially in the final third. This is not a criticism but more a matter of fact observation.

Some might say that Sunderland had enough chances to score and but for the late goal the result might have been different. I say, let them say it. It doesn’t matter and will be forgotten within a week. We all know Arsenal like to give the opposition some chances but very few are clinical enough to take them. There isn’t a great revelation here, is there?

If anything, this game showed why Kenwyne Jones would not have made a good January signing! I would say the same about Cana, although I can see why some fans might still be impressed by his rugged approach.

Right from the start we were dominant and opened them up with ease. If we had a little more composure and a better final ball the visitors would have been embarrassed. In any case, I’m happy with the three points. Now is not the time to dwell on goal difference.

Nasri, Cesc, Theo and Bendtner went close before the big Dane opened the scoring with a tap in. Eboue’s run into the box was dazzling and once again highlighted the importance of taking people on in the final third. I am not sure whether his pass was a measured one or a mishit shot on goal, but there can be no doubt about our young striker’s positioning. Some people don’t respect tap in’s but I feel this one must have done his confidence a world of good.

In the last ten minutes it seemed to me that Steve Bennett was trying to help the visitors. First he didn’t give a clear foul by Mensah on the edge of the Sunderland box, which could easily have seen a second booking for the Ghanaian defender. On the other end he blew for a foul when Vermaelen lost his footing and Bent stumbled over him. I cannot describe how agitated I was with that decision.

After that heart-in-mouth moment that came to nothing with a lame Zenden effort, we got the second goal deep into injury time when a clumsy foul from Campbell resulted in a penalty. Yes, we finally got one! Once again Cesc stepped up to take the penalty and I was left wondering why!?

It’s not that I doubt the abilities of El Capitan, but there seems to be too much pressure on him and adding the spot kick responsibility to that does not make any sense. Maybe it’s a way to increase his goal count but that doesn’t seem like a good enough reason. It’s Cesc we are talking about not Lampard!

Interestingly, Sunderland had three one-on-one opportunities in this game. Almunia saved two and Jones was wasteful on one occasion. I have defended Almunia quite a bit over the last few weeks and this seems to be the right time to point out that his technique on a one-on-one is perhaps the best in the league. I know a lot of people are not ready to even think about this but I’ll give it a try.

If you look carefully the Spaniard spreads his arms wide and keeps his body upright. He also stretches one foot out and bends the other one tucking the knee down. This way he covers maximum possible width and height and leaves no gap between his legs. He does a good job of narrowing the angles as well.

Darren Bent actually did well with his strike and many goalkeepers would have conceded that one through their legs but Almunia made it look easy. Most goalkeepers either lean towards one side leaving an angle free or concede through the legs.

United lost again while Chelsea managed a good win even though Wolves had more shots on goal. Wenger often says it’s difficult to play away from home after a midweek game and such results show the depth of his thinking. Suddenly, a six point gap doesn’t look all that daunting, does it?

Individual Performances

Almunia: Had a fantastic game. Got a good punch, came out at the right time and made a couple of excellent saves.

Eboue: Was exceptional in the final third even if his delivery wasn’t always right. Made a few mistakes defensively but others were there to cover for him.

Vermaelen: Another good game.

Silvestre: Was caught out once while trying to play off-side. Put enough pressure on Bent and Campbell on other occasions without conceding a penalty. I was quite impressed by his physical battle with Kenwyne Jones but his lack of pace was a concern. Still a good job for a man who doesn’t get too many games.

Clichy: Sunderland didn’t have any threat on the right and Nasri did a good job of supporting him. Looked quite comfortable in defense and attack. I think he can and should do much better in the final third.

Song: Class. The big aspect of his game is that he never stops. Even if he loses a ball or someone gets past him the Cameroonian always sprints back and that’s a quality Denilson has to learn.

Cesc: I thought he did a Denilson. A really bad game by his standards. It’s a different matter that he was still better than most on the pitch.

Ramsey: Apart from a big mistake that allowed Richardson to nick the ball and put Jones through the youngster had a great game. He was available in defense, held onto the ball well and his passing was excellent.

Walcott: Some reports I read said he had a great game. That’s strange because the commentators were very critical and I was worried be might get a lot of negative press. I thought he made some very good runs and looks like he is improving. Still doesn’t have the feel for the ball and his delivery or finishing wasn’t very good. As Wenger always said, he needs a little time and it’s only fair.

Bendtner: Good to see him get a goal but I am not sure he is anywhere close to his best. Another one who needs more games. I also get a feeling he isn’t opportunistic enough right now. There was a brilliant chip from Ramsey in the first half that eluded Mensah but the Dane never attacked the ball, probably thinking that it might never reach him. There was a similar moment against Chelsea when Fabregas cushioned a header in his path but he didn’t anticipate the opportunity.

Nasri: My man of the match. Did a great job of helping Clichy, made some good runs, took people on in the final third, and drifted around the pitch effortlessly. Has to improve his final delivery.

Subs: Didn’t have much to do.

40 Responses to Classy Arsenal 2 – 0 Sloppy Arsenal: Sunderland Make Up The Numbers

  1. CharlotteGooner says:

    I usually agree with your take on the games. But today you have got it wrong. We were not clinical enough by a country mile. Delap will take us to the cleaners. And there just isnt a proper plan while attacking.

    Theo runs around like a headless chicken and running is all he does. Eboue has always made good runs into the box. His crosses always leave a lot to be desired. Nasri did not take anyone on. He just passed the ball and moved on. He needs RvP upfront to finish some of his moves. This current team gives off an amateurish vibe and does not give off that invisible aura that TH14, RP7, FL8, PV4 and DB10 did.

    • desigunner says:

      I’m sorry if I gave the impression that we were clinical. I thought I repeated it quite often that we could have done better in the final third.

      Agree about Eboue, Theo needs a little time – he doesn’t have a natural touch.

      I’ll have to see the game again to pick out the time, but Nasri went past the defender on at least 4 occasions. His final delivery wasn’t very good though.

      This wasn’t a great win but the points are important.

      Cesc was still better than most players on the pitch but I always compare him by his own standards, which are really high.

      • CharlotteGooner says:

        Well … you are right in the sense … Nasri went past players … but it was more sideways than forward. And he has completely stopped shooting. I also dont know what it is with Rosicky and the crossbar. I ve lost count of the number of times his shots ping off the bar or the uprights. He’s one of the few in this current team who has a naturally powerful shot (after Arshavin and RvP) and can let rip with a short back lift.

        What I’m looking for from our current wingers is the off the ball movement and behind the defense runs that we got from Freddie and Pires.

      • Nischit says:

        Pires rarely ran in behind the defense. He was more the type that arrived in the box at the right time. Like Nasri, except that he hasn’t developed that sense yet. He’s young and he still has time to learn. I thought nasri was excellent. His passing was incisive, and he took players on at times, and beat them. Given another 20 min, i have no doubts that he would’ve either scored or made a goal.
        My other nominee for man of the match is emmanuel eboue. He was excellent, offering what sagna has failed to offer in the past few games. I thought his delivery was good more times than not, and walcott could learn a thing or 2 from him.

      • desigunner says:

        I’ve often said we need our wide players to get in behind more often. Completely agree with you on that.

        Nasri did take a couple of good shots yesterday, one went close one led to a good save with no one on hand to capitalize on the loose ball. On the second occasion the shot was created by a good run into the box from the touchline.

        Nasri has the abilities but perhaps due to the need for helping out in defense he might not be getting the right balance in his game.

        Rosicky probably has a better shooting range than RvP and Arshavin because he can hit it hard, curl it, outside of the boot and all that. His minutes to goals+assists ratio will be fantastic.

  2. Brian says:

    I agree with you about Nasri but your rating of Cesc is unfair. He won man of the match on the tv channel where I watched the game and he started all of our moves, won and scored the penalty and was fouled all day by Cana and Mensah. I thought our bestplayers were Nasri, Cesc, Eboue and Song.

    • desigunner says:

      My apologies. I’m a huge Fabregas fan and my expectations with him are always high. Perhaps what I wrote was not an accurate description of what I meant.

      • Aniruddh says:

        Off the track really but whatever happened to “the penalty winner doesn’t take it himself” policy? at least for the last four spot kicks that we’ve won have been taken by the one fouled i.e RVP a coupla times and now Cesc twice

      • Nischit says:

        I agree. Desi, you probably have crazy expectations from el capitan. He was good today, certainly not at his creative best, but lets say he inspired creativity in the others and leave it at that 😉

      • desigunner says:

        Not sure if Arsenal have that policy. I think we have designated free-kick/corner/penalty takers and right now it’s Cesc in all roles!

  3. Brian says:

    I understand that he has the highest of standards but I thought that he was energetic and showed desire and composure when on the ball. He was effective without being spectacular and I thought he and Nasri showed a good relationship.
    What chances do you think we have of winning the title?

    • desigunner says:

      I think we have a very good chance if we don’t make any more mistakes, especially if we don’t gift goals like we have this season. I am convinced the other teams will drop a lot of points. The game at Stoke will definitely show if we are genuine contenders or just pretenders.

      • CharlotteGooner says:

        I agree in the sense the chance is there to be taken. To take it … this team needs to mature up pretty quickly. At the moment we have too many weak links who can easily cost us the match.

        This team does not inspire confidence in me that they are comfortable with the situation. We could have SO easily dropped points against a very very ordinary Sunderland side that had bad injuries as well.

      • CharlotteGooner says:

        For Arsenal’s sake I hope I’m wrong.

      • Nischit says:

        We could so easily have scored more too!! There’s no saying that if sunderland had scored, arsenal wouldn’t have scored one more. Maybe cesc’s words after porto would be ringing loud in their ears.

        The game at stoke will definitely establish our title credentials, but I have a feeling we can sneak a win at stoke

      • CharlotteGooner says:

        Umm .. I was referring to Freddie’s behind the defense runs.

        Pires could and would .. curl the ball in from 30 feet from a lay off … and he had the knack of arriving at the right time to turn the ball in.

        What I meant to say was .. we arent managing those defense splitting passes. We did not need a big point person upfront because we had the pace and vision to thread the ball thru. Now we dont have both.

  4. Ajinkya says:

    I dont think it was a very good game. I held my breath every time the ball came near our box. But Almunia did well. Nasri man of the match of course. He was the only guy who kept on working hard even when no one was responding. Bendtner wasn’t good enough. I again saw Vermaelen go forward unnecessarily, he was exceelent in defense. I think these are games where we should try one or two new players, Traore etc. I was not happy with Silvestre, he committed mistakes which almost gave me heart attacks. We have to do better against Stoke, a more stronger side.

    • desigunner says:

      You know, even I have those heart in mouth moments when the ball comes close to our box. But when I see the games of other top teams, it happens to them quite often as well. So unless we make really immature mistakes like we have made recently, we should be able to keep other smaller teams out.

  5. messi says:

    man of the match eboue today, defensive, attacking, passing, mentality and commitment was all excellent today plus probably the best crosser in the squad, not surprised seeing all these comments since i always said that eboue is a very very good player but nobody listened just because he doesnt deliver goals or alot of assists like cesc. The way eboue opens up space is unlike anything we have at the moment in the squad the nearest person we’ve had in the last 2 season has been hleb and rosicky, his performance was excellent man of the match by far he was the only 1 who was attacking an attacking non-stop and penetrating their defences and he will only get better, so glad to see people admiring him again just hope it lasts forever now before fans start moaning again. Interms of the team performance i think nasri had a very good game too he aswell when he plays good his excellent but he needs to be more consistent attacking the left wings coming central going forward these two; eboue and nasri were by far our best attacking players i think song was a rock again lacked a little inch of stamina but can understand, everyone else played well, theo had a descent game too and was fairly impressed with almunias performance i think he made 2 or 3 vital saves so well done. Bendtnerd definitely brings something else to the team although ramsey had a good game too apart from the unforgettable pass he let slip into darren bents path to test almunia, crucial save. But has anybody noticed when we don’t play with denilson we have more of a fluent game and control in the midfield hurts me to say an nothing personal because i really want denilson to succeed at arsenal as his come from a difficult place if you know his background an its only his 2nd full season too, plus he will be the player in the future who will be our box to box midfielder an he will improve believe me, so well done to the team today not the best game but even better, learn how to play “JUST GET THEM 3 POINTS IN THE BAG REGARDLESS OF THE” plus saves us more energy as you dont burn more energy than running everywhere counter attacks beautiful football etc, well done to the team, lets focus on stoke now difficult game but bring it on, COME ON ARSENAL!!!

    • desigunner says:

      Eboue is a brilliant player but his crossing is very inconsistent in my opinion. He gets into great positions and if he works on his final ball he can be a dangerous attacking player or full back.

      Another issue with him is that he sometimes makes bad mistakes like casual touches in defense or theatrical dives etc. With more focus he can definitely be a big player for us.

      I’m not convinced about Denilson but I hope you are right.

      • Nischit says:

        The problem with Denilson after he’s returned from injury is that he has far too often chosen the sideways pass instead of a harder, forward pass. Which is understandable given I don’t remember a single accurate forward pass of his in the last 3 games. If he can just recover his confidence in his game….

  6. Ryan says:

    Yeah I must admit I’m a little baffled why you didn’t give eboue motm in a game where he was head and shoulders above anyone else. His runs, crossing, everything were excellent. Cesc was nothing special nasri was ok ramsey was ok and songs passing was unusually very poor. Theo was ok and niklas was not that great. Basically no one in midfeld or attack was terrible but none were particularly good. Eboue was a rare exception when he got forwards and has to start at Stoke

    • desigunner says:

      I don’t know really … it was just a feeling after the match. I guess during the match when I see something i like or dislike there is a mental note about it without the full description of what and when. Something like + or – against each name 🙂 At the end Nasri probably had more positives.

  7. Sunaadh says:

    Bendtner was standing offside when Ramsey chipped the ball. He didn’t attack it hoping someone would be there at the far post to finish it off.
    Oh, and Eboue was our best player by miles. I never thought I would say this, but in our last three games, Cesc seems to be holding on to the ball a lot more (and consequently losing it).

    • desigunner says:

      Wasn’t Bendtner at the far post? I thought his look after the ball had gone was that of realizing he’d missed an opportunity.

  8. critic says:

    when did u last see him putting the ball in dangerous position through corner?? but still he continues to take it.

    where is it?i think arsenal will provide enough fodder for football bloopers from this year.

    nasri,rosicky,fab,arshavin they all are same kind of players, technically gifted all favourite position being CM, but wenger wants to make them something else. Why don’t he buy/scouts specialist wingers??walcott can be one but his crossing is woeful.

    alumunia was a good keeper and wud have been gr8 but for injuries….it’s a pity. BTW is manone pregnant?? how come wenger choose fabianski for the bench when manone shud have gotten a chance??that’s where i think he is stubborn..

    • CharlotteGooner says:

      I agree about the corners. I think we need to consider taking ALL OUR CORNERS short and trying to get a shot in from the corner of the D.

    • desigunner says:

      I’ve mentioned our room for improvement with Corners quite often. The rest of you post doesn’t make much sense.

      Our defense is quite good, because in spite of the bloopers we have conceded less than 15 or so other teams. Without the bloopers we would have been right up there. A few mistakes does not make a defense or a player bad, we just need to get to the root of it. It’s silly to think that we don’t have a defense or that the players are bad.

      Nasri, Fabregas, Rosicky and Arshavin are not central midfielders. They are top quality technical players who can play pretty much anywhere in front of the defense. If you think otherwise, try and define the roles a player plays in each position and then say how they don’t fit and also compare with others around the league and tell me who does fit better than these guys.

      Why should Wenger not choose Fabianki!? Have you seen Shay Given’s bloopers from his early days? It didn’t make him a bad keeper, did it?

      • critic says:

        i still don’t see defence, if arsenal had drawn or lost u too wud have agreed with me, there’s no leader in defence, i meant no defence, not the players are bad…..problem lies with wenger or coaching staff…

      • critic says:

        if manone doesn’t get a chance after fabianski heroics in cl then he never will….

      • desigunner says:

        That’s a really immature way of looking at things. Mannone has twenty years of football in front of him. He will get his chance.

        There are some basic problems with our defense but that doesn’t mean we go around saying there is no defense after every game. If they had scored etc doesn’t mean anything, if they had scored we would have scored more after all we created a lot more than them.

  9. mario indian gooner says:

    eboue bro i told u eboue………man of the match last nite….best bloody lb performance iv ever seen from eboue

  10. Ryan says:

    Desi at least you can justify your choice of nasri, personally I think that matters more than who you pick. God knows the number of times cesc has played poorly in his career but put in one good assist and everyone raves and says motm for him just based on reputation. The newspapers here are worst for that, some players are doomed to a bad rating regardless, like in the cc final years ago diaby scored a 6 and ballack an 8. Funny how diaby had been class that day and the. Only time ballack touched the ball was a crossed assist early on. Ridiculous

    • desigunner says:

      You remember the time when Wenger said “Drogba didn’t do much” and everyone laughed at him because Drogba had scored two goals? I guess it’s something like that. People, especially in the media, get stuck with a few images and reputations. Only a few actually get into the details, I try to.

      I don’t think any other industry would tolerate the kind of incompetence we see in the media. I guess they get away with it because their work is ephemeral and there is always something new coming up which gets attention. I’d love to hear what people like Wenger and Fergie really think about the media men (without having to be polite and politically correct)

  11. Brian says:

    I’m sorry Critic but to say Nasri, Rosicky, Cesc and Arshavin are all the same is just not true. Nasri and Rosicky are similar: They like to dribble playsmall clever passes. Cesc is our talisman, he drives the team forward, our players always give him the ball because they trust him, he has incredible vision and a fantastic passing range. Arshavin is a trickster, a skilfull player who can drop the shoulder and go past defenders or smash one in from 25 yds.
    They are completely different mate. Arshavin is not a central midfielder, he is a supporting striker, Nasri and Rosicky are wide midfield, Nasri sometimes likes the deep central role also. Cesc is a central midfielder.
    Cesc has the best delivery on the team, that is why he takes corners. If we ha more natural headers of the ball, we would acore more. Look at his assits tally this season!

  12. Hong_gunner says:

    “If we ha more natural headers of the ball, we would acore more. Look at his assits tally this season!”
    @Brian – playing a neat through ball and swinging in a corner are two different aspects of passing. Not very logical, mate.

    • Nischit says:

      Agree. His corners have been poor n delivering a good corner is different from delivering a good long ball.

    • desigunner says:

      To be fair, Cesc does have a lot of assists from set pieces and corners as well. Maybe it’s down to the fact that he takes so many. I think our situation with Corners is more of a training and tactical issue. Cesc has all the talent in the world to whip in a corner if he is asked to and he can certainly deliver a pin point ball on ground or in air.
      I think no one bothers training on these things at Arsenal.

  13. Bobby Gee says:

    I wish we would have put the game away earlier. When you squander scoring chances there is always a possiblity the wekaer side can steal a win. The title is zeroed in. Six points is nothing. Chelsea struggled. Wolves should have scored at least twice. Fabregas was brilliant. He set up both goals.

  14. Bobby Gee says:

    This is a huge win. You can’t waste opportunites and let the weaker side hang around. They can steal a win. Good goal by Bendtner. Great set up by Fabregas. Six points is nothing. The title is ours for the taking.

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