Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland
Man of the Match – Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
So, the season is off. It was not the most entertaining of games, quite far from it actually, but we did get glimpses of what we will be seeing for the rest of the season.
And I am not talking about the frustration we would have to endure against the lower sides at the Emirates, but I am talking about the good individual performances all over the pitch.
The post Robin van Persie era, started off with Thomas Vermaelen being handed the armband. With Laurent Koscielny injured, Per Mertesacker took his place alongside the Belgian in defence. Kieran Gibbs was chosen ahead of Andre Santos at left-back and Carl Jenkinson replaced the injured Bacary Sagna. Elsewhere, Abou Diaby replaced Alex Song, who has agreed terms with Barcelona (sigh!) started. Mikel Arteta started in a much deeper role, with Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski making their Premier League debuts.
Sunderland started with former Manchester United striker Frazier Campbell upfront, ahead of new signing Luis Saha. Half their team are ex-scums, Wes Brown, who didn’t start; John O’Shea, Kieran Richardson, Saha, Campbell etc.
Anyways, the match. Sunderland forced the first real opportunity of the match, when James McClean caught out some space between Mertesacker and Vermaelen, but his shot was saved by Szczesny. Slowly, however, Arsenal got going, with Cazorla looking bright in the early stages. He beat several defenders, to make space, but his shot was well saved by Mignolet.
Gervinho was particularly tireless and impressive throughout, creating several chances, giving Gardner a hard time at right-back. He created a chance for Cazorla, but it went just wide. Lukas Podolski was equally enterprising, holding off defenders, allowing others to come into play, while also creating space in what was a tight Sunderland defence.
Cazorla had to content with the shadow of Cattermole always hanging around him. The Sunderland captain was making life hard at times for the Spaniard. He released Walcott on the right, but Podolski failed to convert the cut-back as Kieran Richardson made a last ditch challenge.
Abou Diaby too had a decent effort at goal, a low long range effort, and had to be turned away for a corner from Mignolet. Diaby was asked to play a more box to box role, with Arteta allowing him to free up. He put in a good display overall, and there were no signs of injury, which is always a positive.
Chances were few and far between in the second half, as Arsenal players, clearly weary from long trips on international duty during midweek, added to the heat in London, looked weary. Theo Walcott did get half a chance, but managed to hit only the side netting.
Arsene Wenger tried to change a few things, as Ramsey, Arshavin and Giroud came on. Ramsey had a go as soon as he was on, but it barely threatened. Andriy Arshavin looked lively, I have to say. Didn’t look half the lazy bugger he was last season. Looked sharp enough, as he tried to thread some attacks in midfield. The chance of the game however fell to Olivier Giroud, as he blazed wide over, with the net wide open, after being put through by a brilliant Cazorla through ball.
It just added to the frustration of Gooners, as Sunderland were happy to just keep all their players in the defensive third, rather than putting in any attacking initiative.
All in all, not a bad start to the season. Of course, we would all have liked to start off with a thumping win, but nonetheless, this is a very new squad, and it will take some time to gel.
Plenty of positives to take. Mertesacker finally put his huge frame to use, as he put in an accomplished performance. Looked quicker too, didn’t he. Diaby looked positive and fit, and so did Kieran Gibbs. Cazorla showed flashes of his creativity, and how he could be an important player for us. Lukas Podolski showed desire to work hard. The goals will come. Gervinho was impressive too.
The negatives. Well, missed chances. Giroud should really have put that away. Walcott looked a bit shady. Is he on his way. I am not too sure. Hoping he stays, as he does give us an extra option upfront.
Next up, Stoke away at Britannia. Good to get that fixture done with early.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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