By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal was forced to make a few changes after some late fitness test failing on Walcott and Monreal. So The Ox and Gibbs came in their place at the start. Still no Cazorla back in the team.
As a result we also had a few new faces on the beach that we hadn’t seen for a long while. Ramsey and Giroud amongst them. Also Holding sitting on the beach for this match. Arsène Wenger has made two changes to his team for today’s match against Sunderland at Stadium of Light.
Arsenal team: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Gibbs, Coquelin, Elneny, Ox, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis
On the beach: Ospina, Gabriel, Holding, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Maitland-Niles, Giroud
Iwobi getting a painful kick on the ankle in the opening minute but he seemed able to run it off. Bellerin with a cross that the keeper could only push away for a corner with a little help from the crossbar. Alexis being completely held back when Cech kicked a ball forward but Atkinson didn’t noticed anything wrong. A corner from Elneny floats dangerously in front of the Sunderland goal but is cleared. Atkinson allowing a lot of pulling by Sunderland but not from Arsenal players. An elbow in the neck from Coquelin goes unpunished. Özil with a shooting chance but he can’t get enough curl on the ball so the keeper can save it comfortably. Özil again almost away but a defender can get back on him. Iwobi gets away but his touch gets him around the keeper but he can’t get on the end of the ball. 0-0 after 15 minutes.
LOL Alexis being called back for not even half of a pushing foul than the one on Coqueling that went unpunished. The Ox combining with Bellerin and Elneny and he goes past his man, a perfect cross and Alexis beats his man and heads it over the line. GOAL!!! 0-1 to The Arsenal after 19 minutes.
Sunderland get a free kick at the other end it goes just wide. Alexis gets a verbal warning from the ref…. for challenging for the ball…. I have the feeling Atkinson is trying to get under his skin. Sunderland then thought they had scored but the assistant correctly waived his flag for offside. Arsenal then has to clear their penalty area as the ball bounces high up in the air and then Alexis picks up the ball and Arsenal can counter but Iwobi his shot goes over. Atkinson keeps on punishing each slight contact from Arsenal and when Alexis is being brought down on a counter he gives a foul (surprise) but not a yellow card? (Well no surprise either I think) Özil wins the ball just outside the Sunderland penalty area and is fouled, hey a yellow card. Well he couldn’t not let that go. Alexis puts the free kick over. Arsenal still 0-1 in front after 30 minutes.
Ndong kicking Coquelin on the achilles and again rightfully the card comes out. The Ox winning back the ball at the corner flag but his low shot was saved by the keeper. Özil again in space and trying to lob the keeper but the lob is too short and the keeper can push it away. Atkinson keeps on punishing each slight contact from Arsenal… As a result Sunderland players go very wild at times, this time Pienaar gets a deserved yellow card for a wild lunge against Coquelin. The ref then makes a mistake for sending Coquelin to the side line after his treatment because that is no longer the case when a yellow card is shown. Does this ref knows the new rules? A cross from Özil just can’t find Alexis. Arsenal go in at half time with a 0-1 advantage and that was only a small margin compared to the chances we had.
Another foul from Djibolodji results in another yellow card. A knee in the back can be dangerous as Neymar found out at the WC. The assistant comes to the help of Arsenal by calling a foul against Gibbs. Maybe he even is starting to get enough of it? Arsenal controlling the match and pushing Sunderland against their own penalty area but no real goal chances in the opening minutes. The Ox send away clear on goal by Özil but he drags his shot wide. Arsenal still 0-1 in front after 60 minutes.
The Ox with a shot but well over. Alexis clearly being pulled back in the penalty area but again Atkinson has nothing of it. At the other end a counter after Mustafi not paying attention and Cech brings down the Sunderland striker and this time Atkinson gives a penalty of couse and a yellow card for Cech. Defoe scores for Atkinson. Sorry Sunderland. 1-1 after 65 minutes. That was what Sunderland and Atkinson had been hoping for.
The Ox with a cross in front of goal but nobody at the end of it. After 68 minutes Iwobi comes off and Giroud comes on. Koscielny heads the corner over. Arsenal attack over Alexis, Giroud points to give the ball to Gibbs who crosses it and Giroud pokes it home! GOAL!!!! 1-2 to The Arsenal after 71 minutes. What a comeback!
Another attack on the left flank but this time Özil can’t put the cross from Gibbs over the goal line. Ccoquelin almost gets his head kicked off. LOL a stat showing Arsenal committed more fouls than Sunderland. Yeah, with such a ref…. The free kick from Özil is cleared by the wall. Corner from the same Özil, to Giroud who heads it home! GOAL!!! 1-3 to The Arsenal after 75 minutes. That’s more like it.
Ramsey came on in the place of The Ox and a wonderful attack from right to left brings the ball to Ramsey who gives it to Gibbs who shoots against the post, the ball bounces to Ramsey who pushes it forward to Alexis who very cool dribbles in to some space and then pushes the ball calm over the goal line. GOAL!!! 1-4 after 77 minutes. Good to see Ramsey back on the field finally.
Gibbs gets a yellow card for stopping a Sunderland free kick. I can live with that. Alexis running with the ball with a few options but in the end he picks the most difficult one. Alexis then almost feeds Giroud again but a defender could get a foot between it. Giroud being kicked left and right but Atkinson plays the blind mole role again. With 88 minutes gone Coquelin goes off and Maitland-Niles comes on. A Bellerin cross is headed out without Özil knowing the ball had falling almost back to him. Alexis almost with a hattrick but the keeper was first on the ball and Ramsey blasted the rebound over the goal.
Arsenal top of the league for the first time this season. It was as if the injustice that Atkinson tried to put upon us made the Arsenal players angry and determined to not let us drop points because of the incompetence or the bias of the ref.