By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal made a lot of changes for this match in the FA cup. Five in total.
Cech stayed in goal as Ospina has a slight groin problem so we saw Macey on the bench. At the back Gabriel came in for Mertesacker and Gibbs came in for Monreal. The latter found himself on the bench, Per was in the stands.
In midfield Chambers played together with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Campbell and Iwobi. Up front we had Giroud and Walcott.
On the bench we had Arteta back for the first in a long time. Debuchy also there. Also a few youngsters with Reine-Adelaide and Willock. Ramsey on the bench to come in when needed.
Arsenal team: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Chambers, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Campbell, Walcott, Iwobi, Giroud
On the beach: Macey, Debuchy, Arteta, Ramsey, Monreal, Reine-Adelaide, Willock
Not much goal mouth incidents in the opening minutes. Both teams looking to find the right balance with all those changes. Iwobi being very busy and not shying away from the ball. Arsenal then with a good attack. The Ox to Giroud who gave it to Gibbs who had a hard shot on goal but Pickford managed to punch it in to a corner. The angle was favourable for the keeper, good shot but good reflex from the keeper. But nothing more noteworthy in the first 15 minutes so still 0-0 after 15 minutes.
Then Koscielny with a stupid action trying to dribble Lens on his own penalty area (not a smart pass from Gibbs who won the ball back) and Lens one on one with Cech and he made no mistake. 0-1 for Sunderland after 16 minutes.
Iwobi then going past 3 mand but Pickford blocked his effort at the expense of a corner. Gabriel going down when a player from Sunderland fell on his ankle and he looked in some discomfort. But he came back on the field after some treatment. Iwobi with a good ball to Walcott on the left to Walcott who went past his man, looked well and placed the ball towards the onrushing Campbell who calmly slotted the ball past the Sunderland keeper. GOAL! 1-1 after 26 minutes.
Pickford again needing to make a safe on a dangerous shot from Walcott. Atkinson stopping the rest of a promising Arsenal attack by inventing a foul from Campbell. The Ox then with a shot from distance but well wide. 1-1 after 30 minutes.
Atkinson giving Sunderland a corner.. same old same old… Arsenal with most of the ball but not much goal scoring chances. A few corners but nothing really dangerous. Lens being the most dangerous player for Sunderland with a few runs and a blocked shot. Atkinson again stopping an Arsenal attack by giving a foul against Iwobi. Arsenal pressing in the extra time of the first half but shots from Campbell and The Ox were blocked by lots of defending bodies. So it stayed 1-1 after the first 45 minutes.
Koscielny and The Ox getting in each other’s way after a promising cross from Campbell and Atkinson stopping Arsenal again after inventing a foul. Campbell working very hard now for Arsenal, winning lots of balls back. Iwobi with a lovely ball to Campbell but nobody at the end of his cross so a defender can clear in front of goal. Iwobi then with a low shot but straight at the keeper. The Ox then with a curler that hits the post and Theo cannot put the rebound in goal. At the other end a good cross to Fletcher whose effort ends up against the crossbar and the rebound is put over the bar by Watermore. Iwobi at the other end with a low shot but no prloblem for the keeper. Still 1-1 after an hour.
Seconds after the hour mark Campbell with a 1-2 with Walcott but Pickford with an amazing stop to prevent Arsenal taking the lead. Atkinson helping M’Vila when he ran in a dead corner of the field and just fell to the floor. A handball from Sunderland ignored, not from Iwobi by Atkinson. Fletcher headed the free kick over the crossbar. After 65 minutes Iwobi goes off and Ramsey comes on. Iwobi had a good match. Chambers also came off and Arteta came on.
Gibbs with a low cross but Giroud just inches late to convert and Pickford could gather the ball. Gibbs again with a low cross to Walcott this time but his first time shot was too close to Pickford. Then Arsenal with a super attack. The Ox to Bellerin on the right, a pass to the middle to Campbell who immediately gave it back to Bellerin and his low cross found Ramsey in the middle unmarked. GOAL! 2-1 To The Arsenal after 72 minutes.
Bellerin then with a run on his flank and waiting till the perfect moment to deliver his cross. One could say an Özilesque pass with the right weight and precesion and Giroud just had to roll it in the net. GOAL! 3-1 to the Arsenal after 76 minutes.
Atkinson then being Atkinson when Giroud was clearly fouled when he was about to pull the trigger in the penalty area but he waved it away as predicted by Untold Arsenal. Cech then had to come of his line quickly to deny Sunderland on the counter attack. The not given penalty was after a great pass from Walcott that put Giroud one on one with the keeper. After 80 minutes Joel Campbell came off under a great cheer and Jeff Reine-Adelaide came on. Campbell who had a great match.
Atkinson then didn’t give a backpass to Pickford… amazing stuff from the referee once again… It was a deliberate pass, with the foot… a real backpass… unbelievable… Oh it looks as if he found his rules book again for a foul throw from Sunderland.
Gibbs with a good cross (again!) Giroud with the header but a great save from Pickford (also again). A combination Ramsey-Giroud just didn’t work out. Arsenal pinning Sunderland back looking for another goal. Fat Sam waving his players back to prevent a higher score. The Ox setting up The Jeff but his control just let him down and Pickford could save.
Gabriel with a foul just outside the penalty area in the last seconds of the extra time gave Sunderland a free kick. But the ball ended in the arms of Cech.
Arsenal won and march on after 13 consecutive wins in the FA cup. The whole team played well after needing some time to get going. Some young players got a chance and did well. I think Arséne will have been a happy man with what he saw today.