Written by Wonderman
There are some Gooners who will have seen today as a missed opportunity to put pressure on Man U, and would have their disaster faces all ready to show the world. Would they be wrong? Probably not, but was it a serious blow to our title charge? Again probably not.
Was Arshavin off side before he rounded the keeper and slotted? Didn’t look so to me, should the same player have been granted a penalty? Possibly, but I also think that Bramble did what an experienced centre half would have done and was given the benefit of the doubt.
With a 0-0 it is always a ‘challenge’ to produce a match report, but from my perspective before the match I was not expecting an easy game, especially as a little research told me that Sunderland had lost their previous 4 games. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to work out, what with their lack of form and having a manager who knows a thing or two about defending, to guess what their tactics would be. But lets look at our own team.
I always worry when I see Denilson and Diaby in the same midfield, add Bendy to that ( more on him later) and it would come as no surprise why we did not win today. The first half to use a cliché was nothing to get excited about. Sunderland defended rigorously closing us down aggressively in central areas and doubling up on our full backs. Other than Nasri dancing into their 6 yard box and going near post, their goalie was fairly comfortable, Why ? because our centre forward wasn’t running channels today and when he was put in delightfully by Arshavin in the 8/9th min his touch deserted him (as it does more often than not). His other party trick was to be on the other side of the pitch to the ball.
With all of that taken into account Sunderland’s defence was in dream land no threatening movements to alarm them and everything going to plan. But to be fair to Nikki B when you have Denilson passing sideways and backwards 99% of the time and Diaby twisting and turning himself into a tizzy then slowing play right down, it left only Jack to look for a forward pass….a big problem if you are looking for goal scoring opportunities and he cant do it on his own. Defensively we looked quite solid with the exception of the odd underhit back pass we kept Gyan quiet.
Arshavin was having on and off success , but as I have already said when you keep making runs and the ball doesn’t come, you soon stop making runs. The first half came and went and Chesney had his palms stung once. Nasri was trying his best to make penetrative movements but Sunderland had done their homework and at the break it was 0-0.
The second half saw us begin to exert more pressure on their final 3rd. Denilson was replaced by Cham to ironic applause, bushing Bendy out to the right. Cham immediately started running Channels and moving defenders giving them something to worry about and creating more space for his team mates the effect was instant. We forced corner after corner but could not break through other than Chams header against the post. Some good interplay in midfield led to Arshavin being set 1v1 with the goalie and he slotted coolly but was incorrectly given offside.
Shortly after, another forward ball sent him on a sprint to goal closely followed by Bramble who fell and made sure Arshavin made no further progress in the box, the crowd screamed for a penalty but the ref refused. By this time Rosicky was on the pitch but again did not add to our forward momentum. With a few minutes left Sunderland started forcing a few corners and the concern for conceding a late sucker punch was tangible. But we held firm long enough to put a final flurry of corners which were fruitless.
I left the stadium wondering….
Why Ramsey wasn’t introduced as that boy knows what a forward pass is…..
Why was Jack again our man of the match trying to drag everyone forward and battling from start to finish…..
Why Denilson doesn’t have a North on his compass……
Why Djourou seemed to trip over his own feet every time he came over the halfway line in possession of the ball…..
Why Bendtner doesn’t do simple things well enough for us when we need him to…….
Whilst most of us would have expected 3 points at least we got 1 and kept a clean sheet…the title race is still on.