Well that turned out better than expected considering the length of the injury list. Strangely enough, although, Sunderland are residing in a part of the league table I rarely bother looking at I am not sure that we were favourites to win before the start. Unlike November, due to the higher calibre of team that we were able to field, there was little doubt, if any, that we were favourites to beat the other equally small clubs we played namely Norwich, WBA and Tottenham and yet we failed to win any of them.
So apart from the month, what changed?
With the silky skills of Cazorla and Sanchez missing a more basic workman like style was inevitably going to be deployed; well, that was the excuse for the midfield and attack but the first choice back four were out there as usual and yet they started game with all the fluidity of a rusty shopping trolley that had been laying at the bottom of a canal for six months.
There were bright spots in the first half, two of our three world class musketeers may have been injured but the third, Ozil, was alive and kicking or should that be alive and assisting, sorry I couldn’t resist.
Campbell who had been about as useful as a wooden stake driven into the ground for the best part of the first half was put through with a sublime pass from the German Maestro and slotted home with aplomb, this immediately triggered the selective memory of myself and the people around me at the game making us remember how we had always thought that Campbell just needed more game time to show how good he really was. Funny goal celebration though, all seemed normal at first and then he seemed to became fixated on tying up the cord in his shorts rather than continue soaking up the praise.
One nil up and half time approaching what could possible go wrong? Enter the FFP: a corner to Sunderland, dummied by one of their players before being sliced in past the helpless Cech to make it one all. Nice one Ollie. We did have a good chance before the break with Monreal cutting the ball back to Ramsey but he unfortunately blasted wide.
General Rambo did well in the middle I thought considering how few minutes of game time he has had recently, as Rasp said, we missed Sanchez far more than we missed Cazorla. Ramsey is not quite as familiar with the role as Cazorla but there is little doubt in my mind that he will make that position his own in the not too distant future.
The game was crying out for Walcott’s pace. It had been that way, in fact, from the outset. I can only assume that the reason for him starting on the bench was political. It would not have been PC to have started the game with Giroud riding the pine considering how he has had to carry the Arsenal banner while Walcott has been injured. Anyway, however this was decided the FFP got the nod and preceded to lumber around the pitch for most of the game until Walcott took his track suit off which was the signal for Giroud to come to life.
Have you noticed this? Giroud started the season like, well, like a FFP culminating in his petulant sending off in Zagreb but as soon as it looked like he would actually lose his place to Walcott, no doubt Ollie, like most of us, never actually thought that Walcott really had a number nine in him; anyway, as soon as Ollie realised his place was seriously under threat he suddenly started to find his inner Ibrahimovic. Well the same thing happened today, as soon as it was clear that Walcott was coming on Giroud changed and scored a brilliant header which again triggered my selective memory and those around me who remembered that we had always thought that Giroud was a good goal scoring addition to the squad.
Two – one up, all seemed well but no matter how hard we tried to help Sunderland get a draw, with Monreal almost turning it into his own net and such, we couldn’t. Finally, after a comedy of errors in front of the Sunderland goal, Ramsey put the game to bed with a vital third. Yay, December and our first three points. Ozil was MOTM by the length of an autobahn. If Mertersacker had had to go off for one reason or another Ozil would have taken the band, who would have envisaged him as Captain this time last season?
Onwards and upwards chaps and chapessess the league is ours for the winning.
Written by LB