Sunderland 0 - 2 Arsenal
Following a smash and grab in Europe, Arsenal travelled north to face a Sunderland side which had just been thumped by Southampton 8-0.
The game began with both sides looking fairly alive.
Sunderland were, as usual, looking to dominate the midfield. Wenger’s decision to start Arteta and Flamini though, seemed to be working. Before long, a mistake from Wes Brown was pounced upon by none other than Alexis.
The Chile forward picked up the weak back-pass, ran through on goal, and chipped Mannone between the sticks. A cheeky finish from a hardworking player.
“Sunderland weren’t looking to lose by 8-0 again though, as they did against Southamptonn last week…”
Sunderland weren’t looking to lose by 8-0 again though, as they did against Southampton last week. They got organised once again and made it difficult for Arsenal to get a second before the half time whistle.
The second half didn’t bring much improvement from Arsenal. the Gunners were still seriously lacking when it came to creating chances.
Sunderland were defending okay overall, but Arsenal really should have been piling on the pressure by this stage.
“Cazorla and Welbeck were teaming up to form Arsenal’s bluntest attacking force since the season began…”
Sanchez was - as usual - Arsenal’s brightest spark, but it wasn’t enough. Chamberlain was non-existant, while Cazorla at number 10 and Welbeck up top were teaming up to form Arsenal’s bluntest attacking force since the season began,
Thankfully, just minutes before the full time whistle, another Sunderland error gifted Arsenal a goal.
Mannone received a back-pass from his defender whilst he was under pressure from Sanchez. The Chile man closed him down, won the ball, and tapped it into the net from close range. Phew.
In the end, the scoreline looked comfortable, but the performance was nothing more than worrying. Again.
Arsenal Player Ratings
Had little to do, but very nearly gave away a goal after heading the ball to a Sunderland player after a poor Neuer impersonation.
We needed Calum today, simply for his versatility. Started at right-back, finished off at centre-back. A solid performance in both positions.
Kept things simple at the back, won aerial battles and didn’t put a foot wrong.
Another important player today. Started at centre-back, finished at right-back, due to Gibbs’ injury. Made some great tackles.
A solid performance all round, limped off half way through the second half. Let’s hope it’s no big deal.
Playing next to Arteta helped, but Flamini is still clearly past it. Forward passes are a myth according to him.
Certainly a bit better than Flaming, but that’s not saying much. Arteta looked the most comfortable player in the middle, and did a good job of repelling Rodwell’s attempts to dominate the midfield.
Not sure how Cazorla starts these days. His passing game is average and his finishing has been awful recently. He blasted two great chances well over the bar today, and failed to create any solid opportunities despite playing in the number 10 role all game.
The Ox: [5/10]
Didn’t work hard offensively, but he put in a defensive shift. A passenger for most of the game.
Sanchez: [8.5/10] - MOTM
Sanchez as MOTM is getting slightly too repetitive for my liking. Two goals from him today, with the first being a great finish. Worked the hardest, looks a class above every other player on the pitch. Probably because he is.
First touch needs work, finishing needs work. He also didn’t work as hard as I know he can.
Did a solid job after coming on at left-back.
Had one chance to make something happen when he had the ball in the area, and had Rosicky in acres of space at the back post. He somehow managed to tackle himself and kill the move.
A Worrying Win
Yet again, Arsenal were crap today.
Were it not for the two Sunderland errors, it would have been 0-0. Cazorla can’t create or finish these days, and Welbeck is looking either tired or completely uninterested in putting a shift in. Chamberlain was equally lazy.
Cazorla had two defensive midfielders behind him today, played at number 10 all game, yet created nothing. What an opportunity. What an opportunity wasted.
The real kicker is that the likes of Ozil don’t even get such chances to express themselves, whilst lesser players watch the chances come and go.
For once, I think Wenger approached the game well. He doubled up with Flamini and Artera against a touch midfield, giving the front four more freedom. Apart from Sanchez though, none of them wanted to be free.
These performances can’t continue. We can’t keep relying on a few minutes of good play every match, nor can we expect constant opposition errors. We need to start creating things for ourselves. And fast.