From the marmalade of tackles to the croissant of planning. Sunderland v. Arsenal, teams, tactics, result

From the marmalade of the tackle to the croissant of planning.  Sunderland v. Arsenal

By Phil Gregory*

Coming off the back of a stunning 6-0 against Braga, confidence will undoubtedly be high amongst the Arsenal camp. While the goals have flowed freely at home, with big wins against Bolton, Braga and Blackpool, our away games have been much more tighter. Despite giving the Arsenal ticket office the wrong mailing address, I managed to attend the Blackburn game and witnessed a tight, hard-fought victory, and there is of course the draw with Liverpool on the opening game of the season.

For me, the most important thing is that we are going into the game full of confidence. I think the psychological side of the game is vastly underrated by many coaches: how many times have you seen a team play well, then concede a freak goal and then suddenly lose the ability to link three passes together? Going into this game with a six nil win in the Champions League fresh in our players’ minds will do us the world of good,  and perhaps Sunderland will approach the game with a certain feeling of trepidation at the thought of our attacking prowess.

This Sunderland side is a strange one. I rated Steve Bruce hugely as a manager for the work he did at Wigan, and it seemed right for a promising manager to be given a shot at a club with ambition and the money to match it. Unfortunately, its probably fair to say that he’s done his reputation more harm than good since his move, with large amount of money spend and little to show for it bar an expensive collection of Tottenham rejects.

So far this season there has been a commendable home win against Man City, but also a poor away loss to West Brom and a disappointing draw with Birmingham on the opening day of the season. It’s early days, but this Sunderland side don’t seem to have any real top half credentials. In terms of form, those results are certainly a mixed bag, but the Stadium of Light was a tough place to go last season so we can’t take three points for granted.

The Mackems will be without Lee Cattermole after the midfielder continued on his crusade to hold the record for most red cards in a Premier League season (he’s not far off after only a few games).  With their Albanian midfielder Cana having departed for Turkey, we’re fortunate to be going into the game not having to face two potentially dangerous tacklers.

In terms of injuries, both Diaby and Vermaelen will apparently be fit for the game against West Brom the following weekend. Apart from those two, its just the longer-term quintet of Walcott, Van Persie, Bendtner, Frimpong and Ramsey that are out. So only seven then.

Sunderland have their fair share of injuries too, with notable names including ex-Hull defender Michael Turner, defender John Mensah and Scottish international Craig Gordon.

Predicted line-up:


Sagna Squillaci Koscielny Clichy


Fabregas Wilshere

Rosicky Chamakh Arshavin

A little bit trickier to predict the team for this game. The back five is fairly obvious, but you could argue that Denilson will be an option in place of Wilshere. To be fair to Jack, I’m not convinced he deserves to lose his place (not even close to it in fact) and, well, if he was trusted in midfield for a trip to Anfield, then he can be trusted for a trip to Sunderland.

Has Vela done enough to deserve a start on the left? Perhaps, but you have to question whether Wenger will want to change a formula that is producing goals left, right and centre. Not to worry, Carlos can have another cameo and take Tottenham apart instead on Tuesday instead.

I plumped for Rosicky in on the right ahead of Nasri, despite the Frenchman having started the game against Braga. Rosicky has been really impressive so far this season, and Wenger was perhaps just wrapping him in cotton wool in light of the tricky away game coming up.

Prediction time. The Stadium of Light is never an easy place to go, but this Sunderland side doesn’t look half as solid as it did last season. Both Mensah and Turner are big losses for their defence, while with neither Cana nor Cattermole being in the side their pressing will be less potent. My main area of concern would be the pace of Gyan and Bent exploiting the space our high line leaves in behind. Almunia will have to sweep up well behind them, while the offside trap will have to be spot on otherwise they will have one-on-one chances against Almunia. If however, we can dominate possession, we can starve their forwards of the ball and tire them out closing down our back four.

2-0 to the Arsenal.

*The article is by Phil but not the stupid headline.  Some childish Notlobian sub-editor sneaked in and did that.  I have no idea what it means.  Tony

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59 Replies to “From the marmalade of tackles to the croissant of planning. Sunderland v. Arsenal, teams, tactics, result”

  1. I must say the more I look at the Song/Wilshere mopping up operation with free roaming Cesc in front, the more staggering the new set up becomes, and the more amazing the resultant 4-2-4 is.

    Then the more I look at our schedule of games the more I think, thank goodness for a squad like this.

    And then as I look ahead to October and see that with a spice of luck we might have two or three of our missing five back in action, as well, and I think, you know, we could be going somewhere this year.

  2. Tony, you seem to have it all sown up today,i beleive this is a testing game for us, we could come unstuck today, hopefully not, we’ll see if our boys can cut the mustard. would be interested in your views for the Spuds game, will we try and win it, or boost the moral of Harry and his band of jokers

  3. We have conceded in each of the last 11 away games. Thats something to worry about. Hopefully, we can start having our clean sheets away from home as well.

    Regarding our injured players, i think we’ll be having some problems with the Chelsea away game bcoz we’ll be missing Walcott and Van Persie a lot.

  4. This is very intresting, If we can stay in touch with Chelsea and keep rotating the squad for the league cup game this is going to change the whole perception of ARsenal on the media.

    A win today and a win on tuesday and we’ll be floating on cloud 9, 10, 11 and 12

  5. This really could be a tricky game, but I think Almunia has improved a lot of late and has got up to his previous standards. As long as the back four hold firm, we’ll be ok, and as you say it won’t be long until some of the injured will come back into contention

  6. Dark Prince – absolutely. The back-4 have looked much more composed this season so far and today would be a great time to prove it with a clean sheet.

  7. I always been a big Wenger fan. but, I think he there is one dimension of managing a team that he was left behind in the last few years (except for finding GK). and that is team rotation. everyone is raving on about Arsenal performance against Braga (and rightfully so) and crucifying UTD for their horrific display against Rangers. OK my Question is coming March who will get the last lough? I couldn’t understand why Cesc played 90 minutes when the game was over after 36 minutes, I am afraid for our season, I am not here to tease or anything, I wish Arsenal will win the league. but Wenger has got to improve on the rotation thing and accept some less than perfect displays in order to last a bit longer in the season (adding April- May to our season)

  8. Chammak, sorry can’t agree with you there.

    Cesc came back to the squad late on, and is still finding his feet. I think he’s only stayed on the pitch for the whole game for two matches, and a decent player can do that. I agree he might need a rest later, and indeed he might even be rested on tuesday, but we need him fully fit and able to play a whole game, and I think because of his late start, he is only just getting there.

    One other point – he was taking no chances in the later part of the game. Rather he was playing the part of directing traffic, particularly in reference to the final goal. So it seemed a good idea to keep him on the pitch.

    And indeed it just strikes me that by December Ramsey should be coming in looking for games. That gives us Cesc Nasri Wilshere and Ramsey all looking for matches in the same part of the pitch. That’s when we start rotating.

  9. Manuel Almunia

    Clichy, Squillaci, Koscielny, Sagna


    Fabregas, Nasri, Wilshere

    Arshavin, Chamakh

    * Substitutes
    Lukasz Fabianski
    Emmanuel Eboue
    Johan Djourou
    Kieran Gibbs
    Tomas Rosicky
    Carlos Vela

  10. @chammak, Tony
    It’s also worth pointing out that against Braga Wenger brought off Arshavin and Chamamkh, who have played more than any other Arsenal outfield player this season, and any injury to them at this moment would severely weaken us. The third player to be substituted was Song, another crucial player for us who has also played a lot of minutes, who again would be difficult to replace.

    So in my view Wenger made thee perfect substitutions against Braga, sparing the correct three players from playing all 90 minutes.

  11. @ak47

    I was just about to say the same thing, really can’t wait for walter’s next ref report.

  12. as soon as i saw the ref i thought-here we go, and low and behold bad decision after bad decision then to top it all off a goal in the 95th min when only f4 was allocated! to be fair not suprised.

  13. and this is why having refs in your pocket matters. and why there was a concerted attack on AW by fat sam, pulis, and the other assholes.

    man u vs. everton? — everton is stopped during the attack

    arsenal vs. sunderland — an extra minute just to make sure arsenal don’t win

  14. Hi Everyone long time reader first time poster.
    Have to say thought the ref was poor however we should be pretty used to this by now and play right till the end. Element of bad luck with clichys clearance hitting kos but same could be said for our goal. Feel sorry for the boys who worked hard today and didn’t deserve to concede so late. Just hope we dont hear the same old rubbish about us not being able to stick it out. Improvement on last season but disappointing end to a hard match.

  15. At least Song will only miss a carling cup game. He probably wouldn’t have played anyway.
    I think their goal was fine, ok a few seconds more that the 4mins but that’s a minimum.

    I really didn’t like the fouls given and not given, there was not consistency.

    Why is there always last minute drama when we go to Sunderland?

  16. I will try to do my ref report tomorrow. Not today because it would be maybe biased. grinding teeth, grinding teeth, grinding teeth…. My overall feeling is bad but I will see what we get when we turn it in to points.

  17. I think we can take massive positives from this game. We called for a clean sheet and for 94 minutes, despite the inconsistency of the ref, we were never in a moments danger. Squillaci and Kos were immense. Chamakh put in a prodigious shift. Wilshire was bloody unbelievable. I was sitting there thinking “okay, 4 minutes is up, clear this corner and the whistle will blow” and I am sure everyone was thinking that, even the Sunderland players. The corner was cleared and for a moment it almost seemed as if everyone on both teams stopped for an instant, as if everyone was expecting the whistle. Did anyone else get that impressiion? Then the ref played on and I instantly thought “oh no, this is when bad things happen” and 94 minutes of bloody marvellous work was undone in a second.


    Rosicky scores the penalty and the game is over. We win. He played superbly but he has to take the can for today. Him and Song, who seemed intent on getting himself sent off simply for repeatedly leaving a lazy foot in on tackles. When did this habit start? He seems to have been doing that a lot this season so far. Seems to be a bit less than 100% fit to me.

    Denilson pout in another excellent shift. We will be fine. Build on the first 94 minutes, not the last crazy 30 seconds.

  18. You could see it coming- the ref would carry on playing until Sunderland scored.
    If referees cannot officiate in a less biased way than this there is no hope for English football. The ref gave Sunderland a licence to win the ball unfairly in the first half. He nit picked every Arsenal tackle and the yellow Song got for his sending off was a disgrace-he couldn’t get out of the way. No wonder Sunderland have such a good home record.

  19. I also thought there were 4 or 5 occasions when the ref allowed Sunderland players to literally knock us over from behind and simply stroll through and take the ball when our player is lying flat on his face from a push. What was that all about? You just can’t allow those kinds of fouls.

  20. And hey, you can always use a bit of an “us against the world” attitude early in seasons.

    We drew. We should have won.

    No panic.

  21. This was a character building game… I see nothing to be held against this team but greater fortunes on the horizon.. I ask this where was the weakness today? We played away after midweek CL and we drew in the 95th from a scattered clearance and gift upon gift from a flawed referee… Is this not a championship team? Wilshere? Immense at what age? Two CB’s who have shown there knives (new to a team), a captain who went injured, and a red card where integrity comes into question, 10 men we were the 12 strong not them… Am I disappointed yes! But, not because we lacked effort… From the manager to the last contribution I am thankful! Thank-you boys you have made my day and year so far. I love Arsenal!! I bleed yellow and scarlet tonight! Hold your heads high!!!!

  22. Why the heck do arsenal players dont waste time. We could have made a third substitution. Denilson could have just taken the ball to the corner post rather than shooting from outside the box. Clichy jus should have let almunia grab the ball rather than try to clear it just a yard infront of him. I feel so bad that we let one go in the last seconds.

  23. I seriously believe this has been a bad game for us. We were lucky to get a point out of this match. Also this must be the 1st league match i’ve seen in a very very very long time in which Arsenal is having less than 40% possession. Plus we have our best player- fabregas injured. Now our 3 best players – Van persie, Walcott and Fabregas will miss the big test on October 3 when we’ll face Chelsea at stamford bridge.

  24. Seriously, lookin at the game, i felt Sunderland had lots of discipline in their defence and man to man marking. They waited patiently for their chance. Comin closer with every chance. And also, we looked so nervous in those last 4 extra min. We should hav had lots of patience in dealing with clearances and when the ball came to us in the final few minutes, we gave it away too easily. That is unacceptable at such situations.

  25. DP,
    It is called character! It is everything you could ask for and more if you played, coached, and spectated. It is pure perfection and it has a price.

  26. DP,

    Soak it up! And, deal with it… If it’s not positive then play it back in your mind. A lot to deal with this day.. We outperformed beyond us..

  27. @AA- I’m feeling so gutted. Was expecting arsenal to win once they crossed the 90 min mark. I think we did well to defend but we too have to learn the art of wasting time especially when we come in the extra time period. Our attack lacked the final deadly pass which i guess was due to absence of cesc. Now we have conceded in our last 12 away games. But still i believe it was a mistake of our attacking department than our defensive department. The defenders did all they could, but its our midfielder and strikers who should had given a breathing space between their attacks. Infact, even chamakh was tryin to keep the ball as long as he could. But our midfielders gave away the possession too easily with long shots and bad clearances.

  28. Wow I was going to give a detailed comment and lo and behold…….Paul C beats me to the punch on all counts.
    Kudos sir.
    A tough day though eh.However it should be remembered that we got 1 more point than last year from this fixture.

  29. @Paul C
    I have to disagree with you on Wilshere. He’s a great talent but he had a poor game today. He was caught on the ball quite a few times, and gave away some silly free-kicks in dangerous positions. He was better in the second half but he still has to learn to be disciplined and do the simple things well. Something which Denilson did very well when he came on.

  30. DP – I completely disagree. I thought for 94 minutes that was a consumate away performance against a decent team that threw everything they had at us. We were firmly in control of that match at every moment. They huffed and they puffed but our defense looked as solid and as organised as any Arsenal defense in the past three or four years. Had we put away the penalty nobody would have argued with 2-0 as a result. It would have been a top away win.

    Instead it was just a very solid and controlled draw. And for the rest of the season we will play to the final whistle in every match demonically.

    It will be good for guys like Eboue, Gibbs, Djourou, Vela and Denilson to get 90 minutes this week against Spurs, win or lose.

  31. Wrenny – JACK WILSHIRE IS 18 YEARS OLD!!!!!

    I expect an 18 year old, especially one with a creative mind, to get caught in possession a few times and to give away a few cheap fouls.

    What I dont expect is for an 18 year old to into a hostile environment against a team giving everything they’ve got and to give every bit as good as he got in midfield and cover every inch of grass on the pitch. What I dont expect from an 18 year old is a natural ability to move play along and burst into space, although maybe I should say I never expected it until Cesc came along. Wilshire is the same.

    I thought Wilshire was absolutely outstanding today. I think he showed again that he is very close to being 1st choice in midfield (with Cesc and Song) no matter who is fit.

  32. @DarkPrince
    I think you’re absolutely right – it wasn’t the defence that let us down today, they were incredible and absorbed so much pressure. Pressure which should have been avoided had the midfield and forwards done better in keeping the ball and controlling the midfield battle. I thought Chamakh and the back five were very good but the midfield and wide men were poor, particularly Song and Wilshere who seemed to be getting dragged around and making so many fouls.

  33. well now i know what that armband does to a player!it completly corrupts him!!!!chamakh should have just taken that penalty!!!but i have to say that was a brilliant show from the back four!!as solid as a vidic-terry patnership!!lol….so who’s goin on the bench when the verminator returns????at least song will miss the spuds game only coz the guy has been excellent in midfield and i pray cesc will just miss the spuds game also!!!overall it was a gritty perfomance and frankly pathetic in the first half!!!even i never understood what was going on coz defence,wilshere,fab/rosi,song where playing well so i guess i just have to put the blame on NASRI AND ARSHAVIN!!!well y the hell does wenger not put arshavin on the bench coz at the moment his being more than wasteful and its really hurting the team and i honestly think it will do a lot of good than bad 4 him coz knowin how big his ego is,he will work hard to redeem himself!!!BUT ROSICKY U ROKE MA HEART MAN!!!(u’z my favourite player)

  34. Wow, I was watching a different match to some people here. I saw Wilshire controlling midfield the way very people are able to. In the second half we were toying with them for long periods, even though we only had ten men. At no time did the midfield get outplayed. When did Sunderland ever have any periods of sustained pressure from anything other than corners and free kicks? The midfield was terrific, especially considering we were a man down and without Cesc. Did people expect champagne football from the team after Cesc went off the pitch and we went down to 10 men? I didnt see Wilshire getting dragged around at all, instead I saw a mature performance of harrying and covering by all the players in midfield after Song’s departure. We played our best football with Denilson, Wilshire and Rosicky in midfield, with Nasri roaming.

  35. 5p from the away games at blackburn, pool and sunderland is good. Don’t think Utd or Chelsea will do much better. Looking forward to the “reserves game” against Spuds.

  36. Paul – I KNOW!!!!!!!

    I love Wilshere, he’s tenacious, works harder than anybody, and has terrific vision. I accept he’s a very young player and he’s going to make mistakes, and that those mistakes are necessary in order for him to learn and develop. But there’s an acceptable amount of leeway you can give to a youngster still learning, and today I just feel his mistakes went from the ‘acceptable’ amount to ‘excessive’.

    I agree he’s very close to being first choice, and I’m rooting for him all the way.

  37. I think we started a bit slow and couldn’t find the right tempo in the first minutes. When Cesc scored I saw that he had a bit of pain just after that and I think this was the reason he didn’t take part after that until he was substituted. So we played some 15 minutes with one mann less.
    In the second half we played much better and dominated the game even with one man down.
    The penalty miss from Rosicky has cost us the game. We should have won it.
    But the good thing is that our defence played extremly well during 94minutes and 12 seconds.

  38. I dont see that the mistakes he made were any different from any other player in that position, whether they are 18 or not. The fact he is 18 and is able to provide slide-rule through balls and gets stuck in and never stops running just makes it amazing to me. I have no worries about Wilshire’s performance today. He put in a shift that any experienced pro would have been happy with.

    Was it his best performance in terms of style and skill? No. He will play much better. But he was a man today. He never once looked out of place, even when he made mistakes.

    Nobody panicked today. We were under the cosh at times from a team playing really well but we were solid and until the final moment, they never looked like scoring.

    Be upset about the momentary lack of concentration, by all means.

    But until that moment I honestly thought that for 94 minutes we looked every bit a team that was going to continue to build on last seasons performances in every way. We looked calm and comfortable, even when down to 10 men with an 18 year old and 22 year old handling defensive midfield duties. The final crazy 30 seconds shouldnt change that. Every team is going to have a crazy minute or two at some point this season. We had one against Liverpool.

    The performance was good. I would have been very happy to sing “1-0 to The Arsenal” after that.

  39. And I should also confirm that I am as gutted as anyone by the way we drew today. It was a shock. But it was a shock because at no time whatsoever did I ever find myself thinking that Scquillaci and Koscielny were going to concede a goal.

  40. I dont think anyone can fault wiltshire he kept his head after been booked. Alex song needs a reality check and I am sure wenger will have a quite word. There was no need for the reaction that got him booked in the first place he was going to get away with it.
    The second yellow the ball was in the sunderland half he didnt have to deliberately block him he knew he was on a yellow.

    Great performance by all the rest of them on the pitch Almunia included and Clychy was unfortunate the clearance came back of our own defender at the end.

    Still think if song learns his lesson we will be alright its early in the season and others will drop points also.

  41. Squillaci, Koscielny and Chamakh.

    How much would those three have cost if they were “established names”?

  42. Conceding in the last minute is never fun and certainly when if fact it was after the last minute. But then again we did better than last season when we lost there.

    After a CL game on wednesday we fought real hard and yes I still think we should have won the game. If Rosicky would have scored the penalty.

  43. Paul,
    I’m very surprised you feel we controlled the match. Sunderland had 65% possession in the 1st half, and won a lot of corners from the pressure they put us under. I think we really struggled to assert ourselves on Sunderland when we had 11 men, but I agree with you that our midfield was actually more fluent and moved the ball better after Song was sent off. We seemed to work harder, have more focus, and be better organised after the red card. Denilson played much better than Song, who I thought was trying to press too high up and allowed Sunderland to pass over and around him, not to mention the consistent fouling that eventually got him the red card. It was a very undisciplined performance by him.

    I don’t understand what you mean with this question –
    “When did Sunderland ever have any periods of sustained pressure from anything other than corners and free kicks?”
    Surely they won all those corners and free kicks precisely because of the pressure they put us under?

  44. Listen, there is possession and then there is pressure. Sunderland played well. They knocked us out of our game. Sometimes that is going to happen. But at absolutely no point in the match did they have men over, or clear shots at goal from open play. They tried going over the top and we dealt with that. When the opposition is launching it into the box at every opportunity, there are going to be corners conceded. We dealt with it all very comfortably. We can’t expect teams to roll over for us, especially away from home. We are not going to control possession every game.

    Yet. This team is still learning. I still think this team is a work in progress.

    For the final 35 minutes today we were down to 10 men and without Song, Arshavin, Fabregas, Diaby, Ramsey, Vermaelen, RvP, Bendtner and Walcott. Last year the team fell apart in those situations.

    I think the guys we did have did us all proud today.

  45. Agree Paul C, they worked hard and deserve credit for that after a hard game in midweek.

    They did us proud today.

    We worked hard, we did our best and the ref…he did the rest.

  46. Paul C. says it all.
    The new signings proved that Wenger still knows what he is
    doing. I know it’s early in the season, but wow. That was the best defensive performance I’ve seen on this team in…..a looooong time. Minus Song’s performance, of course. His sending off was a joke though. I hope Wenger’s silence on commenting on the refereeing is because he’s filing a grievance or something.

  47. I would advise everyone to prepare yourselves for a surprise attack campaign from the D&G brigades supported by the AAA Auxiliaries.
    We will be going to Spurs with a primarily youth team and redknapp will no doubt play a very strong side sa as to feed his drooling, knuckle dragging supporters the idea they are better than Arsenal if they manage a win.

    We are unlikley to be favourites in the game given the relative line-ups but if we do lose, it will give the negative elements the fuel that they perversely crave to attack their favourite hate figures and pet hates.
    Personally I couldnt care less about theCarling cup as it is for aspiring Europa League teams. yes it is nice when we can give the kids a cup run but really I would prefer if we had those midweeks off with less chance of fatigue and/or injury.

    Obviously it would be hilarious if our kids beat their almost certain to be “mostly first teamer side” but it isn’t the end of the world if we do not…..unless of course you subscribe to “Doom & Gloom weekly” a comprehensive guide to being a plastic reactive new-age supporter.

  48. Absolutely, I wasn’t equating possession with pressure. You can have 80% of the ball and struggle to put your opponents under pressure. I mentioned the possession figure in relation to the ‘control’ of the game. Arsenal control a match by having more of the ball, and that’s something we did not do today. At all. Sunderland were the ones dictating the match.

    That’s not to say I’m disappointed with our performance today. I think we did well overall considering the number of players we had missing, and defensively we were mostly excellent. Although Sunderland had more of the ball, we dealt with their set-pieces and long balls very well. What left me annoyed was the way we repeatedly gave the ball away, particularly in the first half. This wasn’t down to terrific Sunderland defending, but players taking too many touches and allowing themselves to be closed down. Our quick, one-touch passing was absent for large parts of the game. In my opinion it was a bit of a hangover from Braga, there wasn’t enough energy from the players to pass and move at the pace we are used to.

  49. To all,

    If you are seriously looking at Song as a scapegoat today you are looking to invade the promise Wenger has made. I see Song as a catalyst for the season of scoring. B.S. on all! Song is something special… I will say this without an olive branch. He is special. He is real special! The last three games I have begun to appreciate his talents. I dare anyone to look at his contribution. Yes his goal was spectacular against Bolton that is the beginning. Do you all have an eye? He is every bit as good as Viera but with a special one touch and accuracy that Viera never had at this age. HIS BOOKING WAS A FARCE! His play was excellent and he will prevail. I don’t know where Wenger gets his boys but I say this… Song was on the hot list for excommunication by the D&Gr’s but as I see it so was Cesc, Denilson, and you name it… What I saw today was a performance that met the demands of the “English” crowd. Yeah, I looked at Sagna & Cliche and said Wow I am glad I am not going against them! I will not mention the organization of our 2 newbies and GK! As far as our MF well you go a man down in a game if you played ever… Ask this “best player” goes out injured and take another man who is Song and what will you come up with? A draw if you are lucky! We not only should have won but if we had Song it would have been a spank’. Fuck off! I am Mad at the support and lack of of understanding of what I saw today! Fuck Off!

  50. AA – Song is just fouling too much right now. The first yellow he got may have been harsh but he put himself into that situation because of persistent niggly fouls. He doesnt do anything malicious, he just keeps dangling his foot into less than 50/50 challenges. I’ve noticed it a lot from him so far this season.

  51. I dont think Song alone should be blamed. That would be unfair to him. Our whole midfield should take responsibility. I’m not even angry that rosicky missed the penalty, i’m angry that our midfield still could not penetrate sunderland’s defences without cesc’s help. We gave away the ball in midfield a lot. Even chamakh had to come down till the midfield line to control the ball. Kudos to the defensive line, they absorbed as much as they could had. Even almunia was excellent. Only our midfield were poor. I think Nasri, Song were too greedy with the ball. When you have 2 men closing on you, you cannot think of dribbling past them unless you’re Messi!!!! Also Wilshere had an average game. Denilson was effective to retain possession but should had actually stayed on with the ball to slow the tempo of the game. Also we were so unsettled by their man marking that we literally just long crossed ball to their side to avoid any troubles. Thats the reason why sunderland had so much of a possession. We have to be better than this if we have to win the league.

  52. Arsenal’s entire season, and indeed their entire last five seasons, could be encapsulated in the week between Braga and Tottenham.
    A walk in the park against inferior opposition in the ‘safety-net’ league, followed by dropped points up north, followed by (probably) forfeiting a genuine chance to win something by putting out the youth team (why not do that in the ‘safety-net’ league where there’s a…..erm…
    Throw in the traditional capitulation up north in the FA Cup and the annual home defeats v. only two contenders for the Premier League and it’s going to be 3rd again I’m afraid.
    Still, AFC will still be on the gravy train.

  53. Well they say “luck” is for losers, and to me that draw felt like a loss. However, and regardless of the positives of last night (the defense and Almunia), I can’t help but thinking about our ridiculously bad luck – losing another influential player, again, with another yet stupid injury. It’s just written somewhere in the stars, maybe someone voodoed us some time ago, but this thing with the injuries (I am aware of the statistics being monitored here, but can anyone please tweak it with “injuries to star players”?

    Just feels disgusting, that’s all. Yuck.

  54. We are doing better than season 2009/10, when by this time, six games in, we’d already lost twice, to the two Manchesters, both away (we’ve had one more home fixture this time round).

    So, as they say in France, du calme, s’il vous plaît!

    One thing I am curious about – why did Rosicky take the penalty, and not Chamakh?

    Captain Fab took the penalty won by Marouane against Braga, does Chamakhattack not like taking them or something?

    Yet again, where is RVP when we bloody need him? I seriously think that boy is going to be sold if he has more than a couple of months out.

    I know we’ll wait a long, long time for people to get back when it’s required (Rosicky, Djourou) and that some people have their bits broken (Eduardo, Ramsey, Diaby) and we wait for that, but with RVP, it’s every season without fail.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy’s play, his goal vs Charlton is one of my all time faves (plus I was on the Protest the Pope march yesterday in London, and the one Arsenal shirt I saw there, on a little kid, was “v. Persie,” lol!).

    But I can be as unsentimental as the next guy (or Arsène Wenger, for that matter), and if the team can’t count on him to be fit for a certain number of games, maybe it’s time for someone else to step up? Maybe JET?

  55. I believe AW was absolutely right to speak out about rough treatment and unfair play.

    If he was trying to influence referees then it’s a reasonable thing to do. Lots of managers do it. Fergy and fat sam included. He doesn’t just talk about our players being knocked about. He recently complained about the unfair treatment the sp*rs goalie got!

    Sadly, some managers (and the media) have picked up on it, and are using it to turn the tables on AW.

    In other words, they are seeking to influence referees. Ironic.

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