Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Positive points and negative points. Sunderland match report

Sunderland 1 Arsenal 1

In the same way that there were positives and negatives to be taken from Arsenal's performance, there are times when a draw feels like a point gained and there are times when it feels like two points dropped.

What's been odd about the draws against Liverpool and again against Sunderland, was that they were somewhere in the middle. At Anfield it was disappointing not to take advantage of playing against ten men, but that said, we were losing until the last minute. Against Sunderland, we had almost an exact repeat of what happened to Liverpool.

Frankly, I find the media response very interesting. Liverpool were described as resilient and that they'd defended well; Arsenal are described as flaky and that they can't finish a game off.

Now of course it was disappointing that Rosicky skied the penalty which would have secured the three points. But the fact is that Arsenal played well. Koscielny was imperious and we kept Sunderland very quiet. The fact is, they scored from a goalmouth scramble where we were unlucky that Clichy's clearance hit Koscielny's leg.

It's just one of those things. And it's farcical because if it doesn't hit Koscielny's leg the ref probably blows the full-time whistle. And then we win the game and Arsenal are praised for a resilient display away from home. I'm sorry, but I refuse to believe the quality of the performance is proved by the result. When we drew 0-0 against CSKA Moscow after having 30+ shots nobody said Arsenal played badly.

And let's be clear here: it was not a bad performance. While the goal was a fluke, we created several other chances - this was not like Liverpool where we really struggled to test the goalkeeper.

So this game brought with it some positive points - that Arsene wasn't completely bonkers in signing Koscielny, that Almunia is dominating his box, and that Nasri really isn't feeling any after-effects of his operation.

And there were some bad points - Cesc's injury, Chamakh's weird refusal to take a penalty, Song's red card, and of course the last minute equaliser.

But these points all have caveats. It was disappointing to see Rosicky miss the penalty but that aside he played excellently, continuing his promising start to the season. It's rumoured he'll play tonight against Spurs and that would definitely boost our chances. Sky showed a reply so it was impossible to see if Chamakh wanted to take so I'm not going to point fingers; and as discussed, the goal was simply unfortunate.

Cesc's injury was one of those things which you can't legislate for and then there was the red card. I don't think it was a red card but I also think Alex Song was naive. And considering the number of Premier League games he's now played that's a little inexcusable. The Sunderland player wasn't going anywhere, diving in was pointless. It was unlucky but Blackpool were also unlucky to lose a man against us at the Grove - these things happen.

The ever-excellent Gunnerblog also made an interesting point with regard to Arsene - although it was stupid of him to push the 4th official, it shows he is ultra-competitive this season, like he really believes we can win. This is important, if nothing else because it reassures the fans.

But most importantly, this was by no means a season-defining fixture. Being four points behind Chelsea having played harder fixtures is hardly disastrous. Even if we lost at the Bridge things would be far from over. I really doubt Chelsea can keep up this level of performance over the course of the whole season.

Now things turn to the Lane and much like the draw against AZ Alkmaar last year, what's important is not to lose momentum by losing the next match. Of course it's the Carling Cup, of course we're underdogs, but I feel Arsenal could well get a result, particularly if it goes to extra time.

Come on you Arsenal!

Keep the faith,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'Almunia is dominating his box.' LOL