Aug 18, 269 days ago

Arsenal vs Sunderland - Analysis & Player Ratings

Final Score
Arsenal 0 - 0 Sunderland

With speculation surrounding the future of Alex Song, paired with the recent departure of Robin Van Persie, Arsenal had the perfect opportunity to prove a point against Sunderland at home.

Frustratingly, that opportunity came and went. Arsenal started off in their usual sluggish manner, using the first few minutes to build their rhythm. Cazorla and Diaby each provided decent efforts from long range to test the Sunderland goalkeeper. Meanwhile, Walcott and Podolski linked up well a few times throughout the first half, sadly amounting to nothing.

Gervinho, despite being full of energy and quick feet, simply had no end product. He skipped past players with ease at times, dancing in and around the Sunderland box, yet simply couldn’t produce the goods needed to finish the job. Elaborate passes went astray, and chances for a shot at goal were ignored.

The first half was largely uneventful otherwise, with Szczesny only having to make one save from close range. Sunderland were getting forward at the right times, and were compact at the back. With Arsenal failing to form any type of rhythm, we reached half time.

After the break, Arsenal looked more confident in their passing and movement. Podolski was making darting runs, and came close to being through on goal early in the second half, but Gervinho’s through ball was narrowly cut out by Cuellar.

Sunderland decided that they didn’t want to win the match, and thus sat in their own half for the duration of the second period. Szczesny was completely untroubled, and Arsenal suddenly had a 11 man brick wall to penetrate.

As the game crawled on, Podolski, Diaby & Walcott were replaced by Giroud, Ramsey & Arshavin respectively. Gervinho was still two-stepping his way into the Sunderland danger zone, only to eventually lose the ball. It was getting late, and the fans were getting restless.

Late into the second half, Giroud made a beautiful run behind the back four, and was slipped in by the relatively quiet Cazorla. The fans rose to their feet, the scene was perfect, and Giroud simply couldn’t miss. Until he did. The shot went wide of the post, and the prospect of a draw was suddenly looking like a dire reality.

The substitutes made a minimal impact, and passes were still going astray far too often to build any type of momentum. The four minutes of added time were sapped away by the afternoon heat, and the fans were audibly disappointed at full-time.

Arsenal Player Ratings

Szczesny: [6/10]
Made one good save, which in hindsight was vital. Wasn’t tested at all in the second half.

Jenkinson: [5/10]
A poor display for Carl today as he struggled to settle. Passes were all over the place, and he looked uncertain on the ball.

Mertesacker: [6/10]
Can’t really fault the German, was largely untroubled and made a few good blocks. However, gave the ball away twice in the first half.

Vermaelen: [6/10]
Much like Mertesacker, not much defending to be done, but was solid when called upon.

Gibbs: [7/10]
Made a number of great challenges up and down the left flank. Got forward to help out Gervinho and whip in some crosses.

Diaby: [6/10]
With Alex Song on his way out, Diaby played in a defensive role. He tracked back well and distributed when needed. Not a naturally defensive player. Subbed.

Arteta: [7/10]
Cool and reliable as ever under pressure. Tracked back to help defensively and fed Cazorla the ball well through the middle.

Cazorla: [8/10]
Despite being quiet through patches of the game, Cazorla looked dangerous on the ball, letting off a few long-range shots which troubled Mignolet Definitely our new star man in midfield.

Walcott: [6.5/10]
Good movement and linked up well with Podolski, but couldn’t produce anything of real value. Subbed.

Gervinho: [6.5/10]
Drifted past defenders with ease, yet constantly made bad decisions with passes and shots. Our liveliest, yet most frustrating player on the day.

Podolski: [7/10]
Great movement and the hunger was evident. But he was’nt fed the right passes and couldn’t get any space for himself in the box. Subbed.

Giroud (6/10), Arshavin 5.5/10, Ramsey 6/10

Still Hope

It was evident that the team were not physically ready for the start of the season. Tired legs and tired passes were the mechanics behind the lack of penetration throughout the game.

However, despite dropping two points, it is the first game of the season. The negatives are that we’ve started yet another season badly. The positives are that we now have an entire season to straighten it out and mount a title challenge, which, with this squad, I am still confident of.

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