goonersphere logo website logo-02

Arsenal weren't that bad at Sunderland

Match Review: Sunderland 0 Arsenal 0 - Premier League 24.04.16

I've never wanted a season to just hurry up and finish as much as this one. At the moment it seems that each week brings fresh despair and disappointment and it could even get worse before the campaign is over. There is still the potential for Man U to pip us to fourth place, equal our FA Cup wins record at the first time of asking, City could become yet another team to have won the Champions League before us, Liverpool could add another European trophy to their collection and most sickeningly, Sp*rs could still win the Premier League. Given the nightmare this season has been, it wouldn't surprise me if every part of this horror scenario occurred, followed by the Emirates collapsing into a sinkhole with only Özil and Alexis inside...

Having said all of that, Wenger's unchanged side didn't perform as badly as some have been saying. Whilst it was obviously a disappointing result and not our most inspiring showing, the wider context of the season has influenced a lot of people into thinking every performance that isn't a win is the worst we've ever played in any game ever. We had 70% possession, 20 shots and 7 of those were on target. But for some heroic stops by Mannone, we could easily have come away with a win. Don't forget that Sunderland are scrapping for survival and defended with their lives.

I understand that the mood around the club and amongst the fans is at an all time low, but it seems to me that negativity and slinging abuse at anyone and anything connected with the club has become a drug to some people. Seeing stuff like 'zero shots on target in the 53rd minute, watch out Leicester!', when we'd already tested Mannone five times at that point is just making shit up to justify another snide tweet. Why don't you just watch the game instead spending every second looking for a reason to make another pointless social media post about how much you hate Giroud? It's a relentless tidal wave of hyperbolic negativity and vitriol. I get that things suck at the moment and we didn't play fantastically, but I do wonder if some of these people actually revel in it.

We also love a scapegoat at Arsenal and Olivier Giroud is the current unfortunate in the crosshairs. Giroud definitely wasn't at his best on Sunday, he laid on two excellent chances for his team mates, but other than that his overall contribution was poor. However, there's a difference between saying a player played poorly or is in poor form and the relentless abuse Giroud receives. Giroud is a good striker, in fact he is very good when he is in form. He's not world class, but very few strikers are and that seems to be his biggest sin, not being Aguero or Suarez. The Frenchman has a respectable 78 goals in 140+45 appearances for Arsenal and yet people continue to label him a useless donkey who couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat. Never mind that he has the same Premier League record as Alexis this season (12 goals and 4 assists) and has played 28 minutes less than the Chilean.

Overall the team performance was average. Whilst we kept a clean sheet, there were a number of brown trouser moments and Cech got the chance to redeem himself for the mistake against Palace. Dropping Coquelin for the last two games has been a curious move, it didn't matter so much against West Brom, but Elneny is definitely not as defensively inclined. The Egyptian is a more rounded player and has a better attacking and passing skill-set, but paired with Ramsey and his inconsistent defensive effort it did seem that there was less protection for the back four. At the other end, we're still just too slow in moving the ball and attacking teams. Even with counter attacks there always seems to be one pass two many and a lack of decisiveness. There is a lack of conviction and confidence in our end product that leads to attacks fizzling out at the critical moment. It's a far cry from the football we expect from Arsenal, in truth it's been a while since we've seen it consistently.

One big positive however, was seeing Jack Wilshere back on the football pitch, another player that has been singled out for abuse by some fans. I have no idea why, he has been devastated by injury problems and has made a few bad headlines off the pitch, but he's not exactly breaking his legs on purpose. He was consistently England's best player in the Euro 2016 qualifiers and when he gets a run of games and hits form, he is a sensational player. Couple that with the fact that he is Arsenal to the core and one of our most talented academy products, I don't know why people are desperate to see the back of him. Injuries may ruin his career and stop him ever achieving his potential, but he may also become one of our most important players for years to come. It is more than worth it to stand by him and back him to achieve the latter of the two scenarios.

The last three games will be horribly nervy. United have a game in hand and could soon be just two points behind us. With Norwich scrapping for survival and a trip to in form City coming up, the team will need to dig deep if they want to preserve their Champions League status. Slipping out of the top four would be the horrible icing on this disgusting cake of a season.

cech save arsenal vs sunderland


Sunderland (4-5-1)
Mannone, Yedlin, Kaboul, Kone, Van Aanholt, Kirchoff (Larsson 78'), Cattermole, M'Vila, Kahzri (Y), Borini (Y) (Watmore 74'), Defoe
Pickford, Jones, Larsson, N'Doye, Rodwell, O'Shea, Watmore

Arsenal (4-2-3-1)
Cech, Bellerin (Y), Mertesacker, Koscielny (Y), Monreal, Elneny (Y), Ramsey (Y), Iwobi (Walcott 71'), Özil (Wilshere 84'), Alexis, Giroud (Welbeck 71')
Ospina, Gabriel, Wilshere, Coquelin, Campbell, Walcott, Welbeck

Player Ratings

Cech - 8/10 - Made some vital saves to keep us in the game
Bellerin - 7/10 - Pretty solid, made one stupid tackle that got him a yellow
Mertesacker - 7/10 - Looked the most comfortable of the two centre backs
Koscielny - 6/10 - Just about won the war with Defoe, but lost a few of the battles
Monreal - 7/10 - Solid defensively and overlapped well down the left
Elneny - 7/10 - Tidy and uncomplicated, did a decent job defending
Ramsey - 6/10 - Not bad, but not brilliant either, contributed little overall
Iwobi - 7/10 - Has made an encouraging start, might need a rest soon though
Özil - 6/10 - Looks frustrated with what's going on around him
Alexis - 6/10 - Came close with a free kick, but his end product was poor in open play
Giroud - 5/10 - Helped create two great chances, but was dominated by Kone otherwise
Walcott - 5/10 - Bottled a tackle that could have set up a golden chance
Welbeck - 6/10 - Had a couple of half chances, shot straight at the keeper
Wilshere - N/A

 Tell us what you think! If you agree, or have a different view, please leave a comment in the comments section or why not write a response or your own article on YouWrite?

Think you know Arsenal? Test your Arsenal knowledge on our trivia page and see if you can beat the top score.

Don't forget to like us on Facebook, add us to your G+ circle and follow us on Twitter.


Tags: Premier league, Giroud, Match Review, Match Report, Player Ratings, Mike Dean, Match Stats, Sunderland vs Arsenal, Match Facts, Alexis freekick, Cech save, Stadium of Light

Featured On

FFC Blog Network Arsenal News & Transfers

Arsenal PRSS Arsenal News