An anticipated three points & good start to the season for Arsenal football club was thwarted yesterday by a typically stout defensive performance by a Martin O’Neill side as Arsenal drew with Sunderland, 0-0.  Sunderland set out to defend & try to hit Arsenal on the counter and by the end of the day it became a story we’ve seen all too often in recent years for the Arsenal- we enjoyed a ton of possession but failed to break down the opposition which “parked the bus” & in the end, dropped points.

Arsène Wenger decided to go with pace on both flanks playing both Gervinho & Theo Walcott out wide with new boy Lukas Podolski in the middle of the forward line.  Youngster Carl Jenkinson got the nod at right back for the injured Bacary Sagna, and played pretty well, while the other new signing in the starting eleven, Santi Cazorla, played very well creating several chances with his exquisite passing from the advanced midfield position.  The remaining new signing, Olivier Giroud, started on the bench but missed what was the match’s best chance late in the game following a wonderful pass from Cazorla.

Arsenal Starting Lineup
Szczesny

Jenkinson – Mertesaecker – Vermaelen (c) – Gibbs

Diaby – Arteta

Cazorla

Walcott – Podolski – Gervinho

Bench:   Mannone, Djourou, André Santos, Coquelin, Ramsey, Arshavin, Giroud

The two sides traded chances early with Sunderland actually having the better chance through Irish winger, James McClean, but Wojciech Szczesny saved well.  Santi Cazorla made his first contribution only moments later when he forced Simon Mignolet into a good save with a good effort from outside the box some 22 yards out or so when the Black Cats failed to close him down.

We dominated possession for the remainder of the match but failed to break down Sunderland we were often left to resort to long shots (which in a way is still pleasing as we look to be more willing to shoot from outside the box then in recent years).  The wide men, Walcott & Gervinho, were especially profligate with our possession & both lacked a quality final ball.  Despite us becoming wasteful with our possession, in the 82nd minute, Olivier Giroud had a glorious chance to bag the three points for us when he was put free into the center of the box with a delightful little diagonal pass from Cazorla.  But the Frenchman rather slashed at the shot & put it wide when it looked to be easier to score than to miss.  Cue the mouthbreathers at that point with “zOMGz! Van Persie woulda scored a hat trick on dat play!1! Herpaderpaderp! We in crisis again! Derpderp!”

That was our best chance of the match by far but seriously, I thought we played well, just couldn’t find the goal but there were several things to be heartened by:  1.) We created some chances, 2.) we look less reluctant to shoot from outside, 3.) the defense looks more organized, especially overall team defense & 4.) the new signings look to be quality, although the end product wasn’t there yesterday.

Now for the negatives:   1.) We lacked penetration many times against a side determined to sit back & defend, 2.) Walcott- lacks creativity to break down sides that sit back, 3.) finishing, 4.) Gervinho-  He’s Walcott with more skill & a bigger forehead

So, there’s more work to be done and the manager has already hinted at a lineup change against Stoke next week as he wasn’t pleased with the tempo of passing.

Wenger post-Sunderland match

Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland highlights.

Finally, following rumors of a really poor attitude during training in Cologne, Alex Song has been sold to Barcelona.  I’ll have more later but I’m not too worried about this sale despite Song pitching in eleven assists last year.  The fee has been said to be £15 million.  Having bought Song originally for £400,000 from Bastia when he was 17, banking £15 million for him is a good deal.

Enjoy your Sunday!

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