Arsenal 0 – 0 Sunderland: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

Draw it is then. Not a great result by any means but I was really happy with the effort put in by the players in the final twenty minutes or so. Once again it can be said a referee stole two points away from Arsenal by not giving as blatant a penalty as there can be. And the linesman did his part by disallowing what looked like a perfectly legal goal although it can be argued that the Keeper might have done better if the flag had stayed down.

I don’t what to dwell too much on the performance of the ref as it is extremely frustrating. Sunderland are not a dirty team but they did get away with a lot of fouls, many of which were quite late and seemingly intentional. Hopefully there won’t be a serious injury resulting from this game but some players, especially Wilshere, didn’t look that good towards the end.

One thing that I must say about the ref though is that he seemed like a guy who didn’t really understand the game well enough. This was highlighted when he called a foul on Nasri late in the game when the Frenchman just used his body to shield a ball that was within his reach. Calling that a foul and not punishing many of the Sunderland players for needlessly rough play tells me the ref doesn’t understand football and wasn’t able to read the game.

Moving on from the ref, one must ask some questions about the performance of the team in the first half. Surprisingly, Arsene picked exactly the same starting eleven as I’d in mind. Denilson and Diaby gave the team better defensive balance but both were extremely poor in bringing the ball out of defence. I didn’t have great expectations from either of the two but was really worried by the number of technical mistakes that were being made. Denilson’s touch was quite disappointing and his passing was lax at dangerous moments leading to two corners. Diaby just wasn’t able to turn after receiving the ball and it left me wondering whether he was fully fit.

Of course, Sunderland deserve credit for their hard work and discipline. As expected they pressed high up and as a unit. Arsenal couldn’t get the passing game flowing for most of the first half. Wilshere didn’t drop back often enough as Fabregas does in such cases. The youngster should not be criticized but it’s not difficult to see he is a long way away from performing the ‘Cesc Role’, as it is called.

Nasri and Arshavin didn’t get into the game often enough because the link from the defence to the attack wasn’t working due to the failure of the midfield. At these times one wishes to see a bit of a functional approach from Arsenal in the form of a ball played high to the striker or long down the channels. No team can replace the players of the calibre of Cesc or Van Persie with equivalent talent so it becomes imperative to have some flexibility in the tactical system.

I’d not advocate such tactics as a common course but without having that as an option Arsenal make it really easy for the opponents when they get their act together as Sunderland did.

I was also hoping to see Arshavin and Nasri come more central with Wilshere dropping deep alongside the two defensive midfielders. This would have given Arsenal better presence in the middle of the park leading to faster movement of the ball.

One aspect that I did appreciate, but seems like one that needs more work, was that Djourou and Koscielny tried hard to come out with the ball and contribute to the play as midfielders. I haven’t said this often but Vermaelen was really missed in this game for his technical ability in advanced areas.

The second half performance from Arsenal was better but not that different till the first substitution was made. Arsene brought on Chamakh for Denilson with Bendtner going wide, Wilshere dropping deep, and Nasri moving into the middle.

There can be an argument that such a tactic should have been used from the start. It’s easy to say this with hindsight but I’m not sure it would have made that big a difference. As the game went on the visitors tired and couldn’t keep up the pressing that they did at the start of the game. So later on it was easier for Arsenal to move the ball. The change in the flow of the game was not only down to the substitutions but also down to the physical levels of the players. That is the reason we see opponents retreating into their half instead of continuing with their initial tactics despite their success.

After the change Arsenal did show a lot more purpose and started dominating the game. Sunderland had to defend for their lives. Mignolet made some excellent saves, Chamakh hit the bar, a penalty was denied, and a valid goal was disallowed.

In the end the result wasn’t ideal but one must commend the players for the effort. I was also impressed by the willingness of the players to get into the box and to put crosses in. Even the quality of the crosses was quite good. Unfortunately it remains an extremely inefficient tactic per se and sometimes it just doesn’t work.

Sunderland too had a couple of decent chances late in the game but Szczesny and the defence did well. Once again the tactical system used by Arsenal to defend set-pieces led to sustained pressure from the opposition when the ball should have been at the other end. It doesn’t last long but it does allow the opponents some breathing space after they’ve been under pressure. This is one area where Arsene has to find a way of improving the team.

On the whole I’m not too disappointed as it was a predictable result. Those who had made the mistake of taking a win for granted will be infuriated but it’s more a problem of their understanding. I don’t buy the arguments that United would have found a way of winning such games. They’d just have won the penalty that Arsenal didn’t. The margins really are that fine.

Individual Performances:

Szczesny: as expected, was called upon to make two or three saves and did an excellent job. Was a little bit shaky when the ball was played back to him and didn’t get enough distance on his clearances, an area that he has acknowledged he is working on.

Sagna: Usual again. A bit disappointing early on as he struggled to move the ball along with Diaby. Did much better in the second half.

Djourou: Brilliantly composed in the box. Dealt with a number of dangerous crosses. Brought the ball out a few times but didn’t find many options ahead of him.

Koscielny: Similar to Djourou but did most of his intercepting and tackling outside the box. Good distribution and tried getting into the opposition penalty box late on.

Clichy: Very good in attack and defence. Didn’t have many targets in the first half. Arsenal should have used him better in the second half when there were more bodies in the box.

I thought the back five did really well considering the poor performance of the midfield in the first half. Not only did they work hard to keep Sunderland out, they also tried to move forward and got into useful positions.

Denilson: Very poor game. Wasn’t able to bring the ball out, conceded a couple of corners with sloppy passes, seems to be losing confidence.

Wilshere: Wasn’t able to involve himself in the first half. Received a lot of rough tackles but showed good composure. Made some good runs but wasn’t able to find the final ball.

Diaby: Not sure if he was fully fit. Too slow and wobbly for a man with his technical ability.

The midfield three were the big disappointment. Put a lot of pressure on the back five in the first half and took the attackers out of the game for large periods.

Nasri: Another one who could have done more with his movement in the first half. Looked very dangerous whenever he got the ball and found some space. Finishing lacked composure. Excellent free-kick.

Bendtner: Decent game from the big Dane. Didn’t get enough service in the first half but he should have dropped back a bit more often to create space for the wingers and to provide another option for the midfield. A couple of decent attempts on goal. Might have done better in the final moments but it’s hard to get it right when you can’t see the ball all the way through. Good ball that set Arshavin through.

Arshavin: just like the other attackers, he wasn’t that influential in the first half. Much, much better in the final half-hour. Should have won a penalty and wasn’t off-side. Could have shown more composure after Chamakh cut one back to him as he was in a lot of space and Nasri was free to his left.

Subs: Chamakh put in a good shift, hit the bar, and created a good chance for Arshavin. Rosicky put in a couple of good crosses at the end.

51 Responses to Arsenal 0 – 0 Sunderland: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. MSL says:

    Denilson starting a must win match is against of the laws of universe for winning. Not going to waste my breath on him. Our starting line-up had just the edge to get a 1-0 (or 2-0 with a late goal). It didn’t happen but once we hit the crossbar I was sure of a draw.

    It was nice to our wide player hitting the crosses in for our big players.

    Finally, Wenger should make changes earlier than that. He waits for 65-67 minutes for things to gel. But, it never looked like we were getting anywhere with the midfield. Nasri and Bendtner kept dropping deep to get ball out. I really really hope this is Denilson’s last start in our shirt.

  2. Nick says:

    why most of the refs in this league are against us? i just dont know why. that should be a penalty since that guy bramble pushed arshavin. i’m disappointed by denilson. he should have done better.

    thanks for your analysis Desi. great post as usual

    • veskovp says:

      Excellent post Desi, and the intentional bad refereeing is forming a good pattern. Let s see how this affected the course of the PL till now. Penalty against us vs Wigan when the foul is outside the box- 2 points lost, Newcastle farce – 2 points lost , they tried against Everton with 5 yards offside letting it go and goal but could not make it. And today 3rd case 2 points taken. So the intentionally poor refereeing costs us 6 points for only 7-8 games in the new year , these are 4 games in which we have to work harder and players get emotionally exhausted because of the intentional errors. Now let’s see how the same referees helped Man Untd. Did not give penalty for WBA and did not sent off Neville the first half when teh result was 1:1 . Possibly let say 2 points help, Blackpool – when the result is 2:0 no penalty for Blackpool for blatant foul in the area ,then 3:2 later , so this looks like a 3 points, then against Wigan red card could have been given for Rooney so he would not play for 3 games. I do not think the penalty against Chelsea was unfair , there was a contact in the area, whether intentional or no we have seen softer penalties for Ronaldo and Rooney dives. But let say the ref took them 2 points . I would say the draw at Birmingham was unfair as Boywer scored from offside. So Blackpool +3, WBA + 2, Chelsea -2 , Birmingham -2 . Total +1 . So the referees have contributed for making a difference of 7 points between the tow teams. If the PL intentional whistling was fair we would have been 4 points up by today having the game at home and they having the away fixture at Looserpool . But now we are 3 behind and still have to go to Stoke, Bolotn , Totenham, WBA and Blackpool . Can we pull it off? I hope so , but if got killed one more time and you can expect this against the rugby team like Stoke, the PL title gets more illusive and illusive.

  3. chengiskhan says:

    Our first half performance was really stunted by Sunderland’s man marking of our midfield and forward players. We never dealt with that properly. If you watch again closely, you can see that when our midfielders had the ball, the Sunderland players would tightly mark all forward outlets leaving only sideways and backwards passes as comfortable options. BTW, this is exactly what Barca does very well.

    What was really needed was Cesc’s ability to do what he does so expertly–make a clever move or two to free up a bit of time and space and then pick an incisive pass behind or over the defense to punish the tight marking. There was no such ability demonstrated by our midfielders today. When your team is being marked closely, someone needs to take 1-v-1 responsibility and beat his man. Barca are so successful b/c they have 3 players, Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi who can create their own space with the dribble. I actually thought in this sense Rosicky would have been an helpful option. While his final balls have been poor lately, he does make clever turns and can create his own space.

    Therefore, we were subjected to a very cagey game in midfield until the final half hour, after the physical level had dropped off quite a bit.

    Chamakh really needed to score with that header…

  4. koye says:

    Spot on desi about the midfield. Denilson and Diaby were extremely poor today. Until tonight, I was among the gooners who used to beg gooners to give these two the benefit of the doubt but now, I believe we only have three midfielders- Cesc, Wilshere and Song and possibly Ramsey.
    Denilson was …, I don’t know where to start. Diaby….we need to let him go asap.I’m not tripping cuz we didn’t win, I think the result isn’t as bad as a lot of people will make it out to be but my pain is thanks to these two guys. They aren’t good enough, ultimately, to wear our red and white.
    There were some positives in the game though. Nasri is looking really dangerous again,Arshavin has regained his form finally and the back four were immense. I think we have every reason to be hopeful for tuesday’s game. We should have Cesc and Song back thankfully. I don’t see us getting knocked out on tuesday.

    • Anatole says:


      Song’s game has been quite disappointing of late. He has lost the ‘nous’ he exhibited during the first half of the season.

  5. Anatole says:

    Very disappointing and not for the first time this season. Every time we have had the opportunity to step up and take over Man U or close the gap in a decisive way, we have stumbled. This team is not yet Champ material. It does not have the steelth-ness of Man U, Barca or even Chelsea of the good old years. When Fab is not playing, the tempo slows down substantially and the creativity and velocity is lost.

    Wenger, it should be said, is also a very – very poor tactician. His replacements very often come too late. Today, Denilson and Diaby were disastrous. Why did he wait so long before changing the dispositif?

    Finally, every single year we come up against the same obstacles – significant players getting injured with no credible replacement; an unbalanced team and so on. Yet, the same goes on and no structural change is made. Am getting tired of Wenger and believe that if no trophy is won this year, he should draw the conclusions himself and go. He has reached the end of what he is capable of. All that he is now interested in is his being stubborn.

    As for the game against Barca this coming week, there is no way we will win it. I just hope we are not traumatized the way we were last year.

    • james says:

      Stop bringing up b.s about every time we have an opportunity, we don’t take it, we clearly took our opportunity to catch Man Utd today, if those red idiots were at the OT, they’ll get a late penalty or late half-offside call and be hailed as mentally strong geniuses but we can’t even get the refs to judge justly at HOME, wtf and we score 1.5 goals which should be enough to win a game 1.5-0 but for some reason, we need to score 3 goals for us to win 1-0.
      The league will have serious issues if it’s most exciting team is being cheated out of challenging in a competitive title race because of officials. The fact that we hit the bar, pressured their keeper into making crazy saves, won a penalty and scored a legitimate goal shows that our guys did exactly what a championship calibre team should do. The fact that this was met with poor officiating again shows exactly what the difference is between us and several other teams. Newcastle were given a chance to make up a 4 goal deficit with their will and a more-than-questionable penalty but we weren’t. If officials were impartial, then maybe it won’t be so obvious that things bounce differently with Arsenal.
      If the league comes down to us having beaten Man Utd fairly at the emirates and they still winning the league by a couple points, I know who actually won the league. The F.A needs to act now before this farcical nonsense makes us unsure of the league’s integrity because right now, it’s hard to see where it is

  6. koye says:

    Wenger unfortunately let’s sentiment get in the way of rational and decisive thinking at times. For instance, see how long it took hm to relegate Almunia to the bench. It took him about 2 seasons to see what most fans and pundits had seen.
    I think he has spoilt Denilson with a lot of opportunities. Ramsey only took about 10-15 games to prove he was good enough for the Arsenal while Denilson has been here for about 4 seasons now with no signs of improvement. Rather he seems to depreciate with each passing season. Lansbury even though isn’t a central midfielder naturally would be a world beater if given only one season. I’m sorry to say this as I do not like getting on players’ back but Denilson has to be sold.

    Let’s face it, Diaby will never be world class. He is gonna be 25 this year and even though we must cut him some slack for all the injuries he’s suffered, he is sadly looking like a mid-table quality player. We need to let Almunia, Denilson and Diaby go. Eboue and Rosicky should be retained.

    • veskovp says:

      I hope he ships Denilson – 6 mil , Almunia – 1.5 mil, Diaby – 7 mil, Rosciky- 3 mil, Vela – 8 mil and Eboue 6 mil and with the 31 mil buy one defensive midfielder as Melo, strong covers for the right beck and left beck , and plays Lansury, Frimpnog, Eastomod and Ramsey more in the first team. This Arsenal would be unbeatable again.

  7. Gary says:

    Arsene Wenger was a very good manager, however, that was years ago. He now appears stuck playing a tactic which stuggles without Cesc Fabregas (honestly it does struggle and our performances without Cesc are not just of a lower quality but we do not seem to have any direction). A second tactic is surely needed as the Arsenal tactic is entirely centred around a fairly unique player.

    442 anyone?????

    Secondly our team is going backwards year on year. We now have a couple of world class players surrounded by a number of mediocre players who are being carried.

    currently Cesc, RVP, Sagna, Vermaelen and Wilshire are carrying passengers such as Diaby, Denilson, Eboue, Squilaci and Rosicky

    We then have a number of players who are just about good enough, on their day, but often average such as Chamakh, Bendnter, konscielny,

    Would anyone object to next season being used as an experiment. Lets get rid of the dead wood, give 5 or 6 of the youngsters in the reserves a serious role in the first team. If Song is injured then instead of Diaby or Denilson (who we will sell to lower premiership/european clubs) we will play a youngster, maybe frimpong.

    Ramsey will start many games, we will play Theo as a strike to utilise that devestating pace like Henry, Like Anelka. If Vermaelen is unjured then not a 30+ frenchman who isn’t good enough and not improving, lets give a 19 year old Bartley a chance, what’s the worst that can happen??

    A poor season, maybe finish 4th? (seem to remember that with our current first team)

    Whats the best that can happen? Well we could find a decent centreback, we could see Ramsey develop into the player he could be (which I don’t believe he will at Arsenal under Wenger). Walcott may actually emerge as a devestating striker, ripping defenders apart with his pace.

    Who knows maybe Frimpong, Lansbury, Vela, Henderson, or Miquel will step up and say I’m good enough for Arsenal and I’m good enough to win the league.

    Diaby, Denilson, Eboue, Almunia, Squilaci, Rosicky (now) Chamak, Bendtner (maybe) are not good enough and honestly who thinks they will be good enough to win the league???? (bentdner maybe).

    I would get rid of them, let others have a go either transfers or youth if we cant bear to spend.

    are we going forward? No, the squad is weaker year on year as the quality decreases

    • nikkogunners says:

      Why are we so fatalistic about our chances with Barca? I believe we have a good chance to get out of Camp Nou with a place in the last 8 of the champions league.

      We may need in light of the injuries have to adopt a 4-4-2 system.
      Can Nasri lead the frontal attack? i think he has the guts to create more striking sense.

      Here would be my side.
      Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy
      Bendtner, Cesc/Ramsey, Wilshere, Asharvin
      Chamakh, Nasri

      Second question, can AW actually put this side on trial and can this side master the game plan in 2 days?

      Third condition – can we leave Denilson at home?

    • veskovp says:

      I do not agree Kos is not good for Arsenal, or Bendner is not good. They are both good. But Bendner has to play in 4-4-2 and this is the tactics which you should play against the likes of Sunderland, Stoke, Birmingham, Bolton and Everton. When the team close them selves 10 in their field you have to go on the flanks and cross and try to get the Bendner and Chamakh heads. If we have started with Denilson and Wilshere in the middle and Chamakh and Bendner up front and play the wings games with often crossing high and low crosses with the pace of Clichy and Sagna the result easily could have been 4,5 :0 . But now with tik -tak -toe passing is 0:0. Still not Plan B. Until when ?

  8. Dove says:

    Wenger is destined to fail again. Denilson and Diaby were poor. I mean a professor is very sensitive and proactive. The manager has abused the title. His rigidity coupled with his favoritism for French players is what is hurting the team.

    We have to wait for another year. It was a huge opportunity to close the gap. But we always fail to take advantage of such scenarios.

    • alex says:

      Its negative idiots like you that everyone wants to stop posting

    • URAHotSpudInDisguise says:

      Please go watch Wrestling or some other sports like that. They cater to viewers with no brains.
      Just a short paragraph and you already showed the gulf of ignorance that you carry with you. Amazing.

  9. pires is king says:

    Sad fucking blow today. We really just don’t seem up for a title challenge. That may be harsh, but the amount of chances we’ve had over the last 12-14 months gone untaken is astounding.

    Quick point, in my opinion today sadly verified what I believed before the match, that is that (unlike your thought, Desi) Nasri is more wasted on the fringe on the field without Cesc. When he was moved centrally, the fire roared to life. There were other factors, but in my assessment this is a huge one, and has cost us the cup with B’ham and now 3 points here. My opinion.

    Cheers for a great blog, as usual!

    • samir nasri says:

      there’s no doubt he should be pulling the strings, he’s different than cesc in that he’s not seeking to send his teammates on a run (which he can do).

      but he’s definitely just as capable, but one two’s with fabregas are different than with denilson.

      i think denilson is good. but he does not understand how to track back with a sprint. or maybe he can’t sprint. i don’t know what it is.

      you can’t perform strongly in every single game, the invincibles put up a false image.

      the points were deserved today.

  10. Canadiangunner says:

    D&D, the deadly duo!
    Plain and simple, we won’t win with them in the starting 11. Arsene, time to move on, leave them out!
    I have been a critic of Diaby for 4 years, during that period he has proved me wrong once, last year against West Ham, I think, and he played a blinder, otherwise it’s been the same old same old. Lazy defending, inability to move the ball forward, and when he has it the final pass is always lacking. Case and point, corner to Sunderland in the first half, he has taken on marking Ferdinand, losses him and it nearly cots us a goal. Last time I flagged him, same lazy defending on a corner results in a goal as he couldn’t be bothered to jump! No, he has to go, no more arguing, let’s not give the excuse that he is carrying an injury again.
    Aside from D&D it was a positive performance, aside from the refs poor calls it should have been 2-0.
    On to bigger and better things. Tuesday. Yes, we will do it. I can feel it.
    Obvious back 5, Song, Cesc and Jack, Nasri left, B52 right and Chamak centre. Chamak made a big impact and will trouble Barca, you could argue that he should have scored, his majestic leap above the defenders was almost too strong, he will score.

  11. Northbanksy says:

    Good assessment of the game as usual. Having looked that the “penalty” shout though a few times now…I don’t think it was.
    Bramble was very clever, holding Arshavin back but as soon as he got to the box he let go.
    Can anyone explain to me what Denilson brings to the team in terms of attack or defence. I always start off hoping he’s going to have a good game…& end up disappointed.

    • chengiskhan says:

      I honestly think you need to look at it again from the side view (ie, linesman’s perspective). Bramble clearly pushes Arshavin, and you can see Arshavin accelerate toward ground while trying to shoot the ball.

    • Canadiangunner says:

      It was a clear penalty, not once but twice. He clearly pulls his arm, and then clearly pushes him as he is in the process of shooting. Last man, red card and off. No doubts.

  12. Anatole says:

    The team is average as noted by many posts: Cesc, Wilshere, Sagna, Van Persie, Vermaelhen (when he used to be fit) and Nasri are clearly world-class.

    Bendtner is frustrating, but can score. Arshavin is a dilettante. One never knows when he will shine. The new goalie, Scezsceny looks quite promising. Djourou could make it if he does not get injured again. Clichy is above average although at times unreliable at crucial moments.

    Denilson is not up to the task. Diaby is terribly frustrating and should probably go. Song has improved this year. But I am telling you, of late, his game has ben disappointing.Chamakh started well but has been terribly erratic since November. He lacks confidence and can’t produce a simple pass.

    The team is also very unbalanced and this has been the case for a very long time now. Every football observer knows this. That Wenger has not addressed this issue is quite astonishing. When Fab leaves next year for Spain, Arsenal’s game will become totally predictable.

    Wenger is a terrible tactician. Players can be versatile of course. But he tends to consistantly use players in positions in which they are not naturally gifted.

    It is very clear that he has run out of ideas. Arsenal won’t win a trophy under Wenger. Wenger is unable to renew himself a la Mourinho. He does not have the killer instinct of Alex Ferguson. His ultra-calvinism and stinginess are such that he wants to earn by spending less.

    The entire exercise is perfectly futile. And I can assure you that next year, we will be here debating the exact same conundrum as long as Wenger is the manager.

    There have been exactly five opportunities this season to either substantially reduce the gap with Man U or to simply overtake them. Each and every time, we have fallen short of that goal. It is time to recognize that there is a structural problem here and stop fooling ourselves.

  13. nicky says:

    I’m beginning to think we will have to get rid of a few players who haven’t quite made the grade, this summer…..AND replace them with experienced players. That is NOT to say that our youth should be discarded, so the replacement method should be carefully handled.

  14. Greencard usa says:

    If anyone wrote a modern day Shakespearean tragedy would Arsenal not be a fitting subject and will the referees not be the perfect villains?

  15. Tee Song says:

    This game really shows how important not only Cesc, RvP, and Theo are to this team but how important Wilshere has become. The big problem of the first half, as correctly pointed out, was the inability of Diaby and Denilson to move the ball from the halfway line forwards. This left the attack isolated and blunted. JD and Koz often had no choice but to bring the ball out themselves or try long passes out of defense. Diabolical and Denilson were simply unable to provide any forward thrust. One of Wilshere’s strengths is his ability receive the ball, turn, create space for himself and either accelerate with the ball himself or find a forward space despite opposition pressure. Song is also able to create space for himself and pass forward despite opposition pressure. D and D were unable to do this. Maybe Diaby needs more games because that used to be a strength of his and today he didn’t show that part of his game at all. Bendtner often dropped deep to receive the ball and relieve pressure but unlike RvP, he doesn’t have the ability to turn and play the forward pass and with his terrible first touch, was often just on the verge of losing it anyway.

    Once Chamakh replaced Denilson, Wilshere played deeper and Nasri more centrally and we were able to bring sustained pressure on Sunderland’s goal. Chamakh is also better than Nick at receiving the ball under pressure and doing something positive and on the evidence of the day he should probably start ahead of Bendtner for Barca, where we will be under constant pressure. Maybe Sunderland would’ve tired and their pressing would’ve naturally become less effective but I think the personnel change helped that process.

    It was a very frustrating game because overall we did create enough chances and a combination of great goalkeeping, profligate finishing and horrific refereeing decisions conspired to shut us out. I mean can anyone imagine Rooney not getting either of those Arshavin decisions the other way at Old Trafford?

  16. samir nasri says:

    unfortunately i missed the game. i had to be at school for a mid-term.

    the 2 main highlights. shocking.

    i’ve also read the ref was from manchester.

    i’d like to know if any of you know of adam kemp?

    too many arsenal fans spitting out hate and garbage about are team. we are in a god-damn golden age. will these short-sighted idiots stop whining about a trophy?

    if i wasn’t someone who thinks the TEAM deserve more, i would want arsenal to begin a 20-30 year slump. with or without wenger. then these damn plonkers will realize how lucky we are to have what we have.

    i’ve said it before, i’m a vancouver canucks hockey fan. 40 years without the major trophy, their entire existence has been trophyless. i wish some fans could use any sort of perspective.

  17. Oceania says:

    I’ld like to offer a different take on the disfunction that took place on the pitch: without Song on the pitch, Arsene was forced to play Diaby and Denilson together and bring Wilshire further up the pitch. I think Denilson, Djourou, and Koscielny were instructed to go forward with the ball which we saw, however, our players up top only seem to make their runs only when Cesc, Song, or Wilshire bring the ball forward. I would’ve preferred to see Diaby fill-in for the Cesc’s role, however, I do not believe Wilshire and Denilson together provide enough cover for our backline –other than because of injury we have not seen Denilson and Wilshire play beside each at all this season (I’m not sure about this point but please correct me if I’m wrong). If Song is not fit for the Barcelona game and Cesc’s match fitness is in question, we will pretty much see the same team but instead of Wilshire starting I’ld expect to see Rosicky come on first.

    • Tee Song says:

      I doubt JD and Koz were making forward runs based on any strategic instruction from Wenger. They went forward to try to negate Sunderland’s tactic of closely marking our midfielders. Sunderland’s strategy was to allow our defenders to have the ball but line up five across midfield and either marking our midfielders too closely to be able to receive the ball or close them down quickly to prevent them from turning. How many times did our defenders pass it to a midfielder only to get a pass right back because Diaby or Denilson were pressured? By taking the ball forwards themselves, JD and Koz were simply trying to bypass that defensive structure. It can work well if your defenders can pass the ball well as ours can. TV5 is especially good at this. Normally, Wilshere, Song and Cesc when he drops deep, have the technical ability to turn and move the ball forward despite pressure. Today our midfielders couldn’t.

      • Oceania says:

        Thank you for your insightful response to my comment. As people are wanting scapegoats for this result as people here have chastised Wenger for bringing on more offensive minded players later on in the match, I would add, that his tactics were correct in that he went with a more defensive line-up. And his tactics would have paid-off if we were only playing against 11-players and not 14.

  18. WillyG says:

    Talking about Diaby and Denilson is a waste of breath.
    What we see as duds, Wenger sees them as a Xavi and Iniesta.
    And that’s why, we will still be trophyless and the end of the season.
    And of course, Arsene Knows.

  19. D says:

    “United would have won the penalty that Arsenal didn’t”! Top point. Put’s the entire game into perspective. The EPL referees are the most consistent… they’re all poor.. all the time!

    With RVP, El Capitan and Song absent i expected a scrappy game but even then The Arsenal surprised us with a good final 30 mins. We must feel fortunate that there weren’t too many nervy moments in our own box. Who knows the ref might have actually given them a pen and it’d have been a heart break.

    In the absence of Cesc and RVP 4-4-2 with Chamakh and bendtner? I think that’s one option as we fall short of personnel able to execute the more fluid 4-3-3… even though for most parts formation doesn’t matter to Arsenal, this shape would encourage a lot more aerial play, something the aforementioned strikers would be delighted with. Anyway, let’s look forward to an awesome clash on tuesday. I’m slowly losing my interest in the EPL title race decided by impotent referees.

  20. Rohit says:

    most of our misplaced passes and inefficient play had been due to indesicion of either denilson and diaby in the midfield…..they unwittingly cut off wilshere!!many a time they chose the harder passes even though wilshere was a easier target.
    on a sidenote BCFC had a penalty,offside and a red card ruled out in a single call last week…..ref association trying to even things out??

  21. Claver says:


    How about the rugby tackle on Arshavin?

    I mean, rugby players do that sort of thing to push a guy out of bounds, it wasn’t even a penalty???

    So when we say the Refs are biased, we have every reason to know we are right.

    The Refs are corrupt. Not even biased. They are corrupt. English football is Italian.

  22. Tim says:

    A good analysis, Desi, thankfully lacking in hysteria.

    A disappointing result, but what do you expect when key players are out injured and you don’t get the rub of the green? It’s still in our hands though, and if Liverpool can do us a favour today then it could turn out to be a crucial point later on.

    Agree that this was always going to be a difficult game. Sunderland had lost 4 on the trot, and they were always going to park the bus. We just weren’t good enough to break them down often enough.

  23. Hannibal says:

    we should stop complaining about the referee. We should look at the structural shortcomings of this team and its manager. I agree with those who believe that Wenger is a spent force now bereft of imagination and for the most, very passive. You should see him gesticulating on the line as if he were totally powerless.

    A simple reader of the game would have known after less than 30 mns that we were not going to make it unless he brought more offensive power on the field and restructured the midfield. Diaby was absolutely useless. He slowed the game whenever he had the ball, indulging in completely useless gestures and always chosing the most complicated passes where he could play simple. Denilson is out of sync with the rest of the team. Wilshere was quite unproductive during the entire first half and badly positioned.

    It is also true that the team suffers from a structural imbalance. It is true that without Fabregas, this team will be totally predictable and monotonous, unable to accelerate, to add velocity, to change the tempo and rhythm when necessary, unable to create out of very difficult situations.

    All of this boils dopwn to Wenger’s arrogance or stubborness. He is holding all of us hostages through his unwillingness to correct these imbalances.

    I have seen Mourinho more than once quickly read the game and introduce the necessary changes including during the first half of the game. This guy does not seem to be ready for changes until it is pretty late and the team is in a desperate situation.

    Finally it has not been 5 times, but 6 times during this season when we could have overtaken Man U or substantially reduced their lead. We did not. Each time we collapsd. For God’s sake this can’t be a once-off phenomenon. It must damn’ it be structural and we’d better wake up and stop fooling ourselves.

    • Tee Song says:

      You’re talking about the structural problems which saw us keep a clean sheet. The structural problems which saw us outshoot Sunderland 14 to 8. More than double their shots on goal 7 to 3. Poor finishing I can agree with but this game showed the team’s structure and tactics were good enough to win this game. Oh and for all our defensive flaws, prior to ManUre’s loss to Liverpool we had the same number of goals conceded as frontrunning ManUre and their vaunted defense–27 goals conceded after 28 games.

  24. Wrenny says:

    Great article. The midfield just wasn’t working, Denilson and Diaby offered little penetration with their passes and Wilshere wasn’t finding the pockets of space that Cesc does so beautifully. I believe Wilshere could (and will) in time take over from Cesc but this game showed how far away he still is. Everything was going very sideways until Chamakh came on and the midfield was reshuffled.

    I was also glad to see us trying to cross the ball more and hurt Sunderland that way in the second half, and most of the deliveries were good. Despite being far from our fluent best and with so much attacking talent missing, we would have won the game if not for yet more incompetent refereeing.

    Looking forward to your Barca preview!

  25. Claver says:

    Arsenal played extremely well.

    If it weren’t for the Ref, Arsenal would have won 2-0.

    The Ref earned Sunderland a point, and ManU the appearance of being good.

    The Refs were awful.

    The problem is, commentators are not allowed to comment on Refs, so they turn onto the teams!!!

    Arsenal played extremely well compared to the last match against Sunderland.

    I am NOT paid to say nice things about awful people like those match officials. They were poor.

    In fact, extremely poor, myopic, biased, delinquent.

    The question is not are they delinquent, it is why are they delinquent.

    The FA needs a change.

    • Greencard usa says:

      Can’t but agree with you Claver; the FA tout respect and maintaining the reputation of professional football. Clearly they have a warped notion of ‘respect’. To them respect = silence no matter what. Just as in politics and other powered practices. Yet I and millions of others have been brought up with the notion respect needs to be earned not just given willy nilly. Yes, we should not disrespect others – that is social etiquette but this does not translate to respect and the demand we do not criticize. When will the FA understand that respect has to be earned? Really, it is not the critics that bring disrepute but the refs themselves who are not being held publicly accountable in a most public engagement. We should think about how we as a public can apply the pressure the officials shy away from.

  26. JJ Pittman says:

    Referees are incompetent, not corrupt. Just watched Phil Dowd totally lose control of ManUre v. Liverpool match before end of first half. We cannot catch ManUre if we have to outplay them and the incompetent referees. Just wish it would even out!

  27. richie says:

    I agree with your analysis our problem is trying to play our A game with the B team. Cesc Shava Nasri & RvP can play the fast passing game because they are good enough to do it, sometimes their passing and movement can seem almost telepathic. Rosicky Diaby Bentner & Chamakh can’t play at the same level and yet they try to play the same way. Our A team playing the A game is difficult for any team to live with. Our B team trying to play the A team game isn’t because it miss fires often.

  28. Zerin Rahiman says:

    I hope Arsenal win the league. We have gone and done our job against Man Utd. We have shattered them mentally also- forget the points. Now stop getting injured and take the chances that come your way.

    After Kenny took charge Arsenal top the league followed by Liverpool (9 games)

    This is going to be a long season for Arsenal and it might end trophyless. However the squad is almost ready now and it is just a matter of time. I hope Arsenal fans show the patience with Wenger and in Jack Wilshere you have a real gem

  29. Kushagra India says:

    Arsenal legend Paul Merson is of the view that Arsenal take too many risks with their squad yearly…..

  30. Kushagra India says:

    Suarez is a real gem he will be a world star…

  31. Kushagra India says:

    Desi pls make ur group on Fb it would be fun…

  32. desiGooner says:

    Would you believe it!!! RvP has been passed fit and included in the squad for tomorrow’s game. Was Wenger being tactical and playing mind games all this while. Just might unsettle Barca.
    Jai Ho Arsenal

  33. peterparker78 says:

    There are some idiots here who cannot see the plain truth about shortcomings of this team and the manager. Their only hobby is to criticize the ref or other dark forces for any bad result. I know like all other football fans, we only see bad decisions against our team or for the teams we hate, but come on, everyone gets good and bad calls. Red card and penalty against us in the second minute of carling cup final anyone! Red card against David Luiz anyone or Jamie Carrahager anyone? No, we keep quiet on that as those decision suit us. As AW put it once, everyone thinks they have pretty wife at home.
    This team with current flaws i.e. fragile defence bar Djourou, no defensive midfield cover, no creativity in the midfield when Cesc is not playing, and misfiring strikers bar RVP recently. Let me tell you one glaring shortcoming for last 6 years ! Do you know how many goals RVP has scored since joining us in 2005? only 50 in 150 games. This tells me two things, only 150 games in nearly 6 seasons, and one goal every 3 games however AW fails to see this and rectify this. Similar arguments could be made against goal keeper, central defence, the midfield with equally valid rationale however what everyone can see, AW and the blinkered supporters fail to notice that, instead, let’s blame the ref or the pitch, the weather, the injury list but not the tactics or the team. It’s astonishing to see that this lot is eating up 117 millions in wages and giving the fans nothing in return.

    This season and around Novemeber-January time last season, we had an excellent opportunity to take over the league when united and Chelsea had poor run, however, we messed it up everytime. If that is not lack of killer instinct or winning mentality, then tell me what it is. Oh yes, its refs or pitches fault, or lets blame opposition for parking the bus!

    Like other posts which tried to show the mirror, you can rate it negatively as much as you want, but you cannot hide from the truth! This team under AW is not going to win anything anytime soon. AW has his loyalty firmly with players and not with fans or the club. It’s too hard for him to admit mistakes he made in recruiting these players. As someone pointed out earlier, in a year time we will be again talking about same points.

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