A freak goal deserves a freak finish. The match was drifting towards an Arsenal win despite Alex Song being sent off and Tomas Rosicky blasting his spot kick into the stratosphere when Phil Dowd decided to grant 15 seconds more to the 4 minutes of stoppage time.
It turned out to be fateful as the hitherto stout defending broke down in a sequence of errors following Arsenal failing to see off Andy Reid’s corner adequately. Zenden relayed it back into the box via a header. In the ensuing melee, Gael Clichy’s clearance deflects off Laurent Koscielny’s leg straight to the lurking Darren Bent who smashes it into the net. There were a few “might haves” – a handball on Gyan and a foul on Clichy. But these are rarely called with the referee unsighted by so many players.
The extra minute saw Wenger get bent out of shape – going after Dowd.
“If you have a watch, you can control. It’s as simple as that,” said Wenger.
“It was outside the four minutes. I know the referee can give more than four, it’s a minimum of four minutes.”
Arsenal has no one to blame but themselves so Wenger’s sour grapes are misplaced. Sunderland were the better team and a draw was probably an ideal result. Apart from the Fabregas freak goal they looked unenterprising for large spells of the match. Song was sent off for a soft call – a block on Malbranque but in all fairness he was asking for it all afternoon. And this is another reason why Tomas Rosicky is not a goalscorer although in every other department he is a genius.
Arsenal missed out on a chance to go up on top which means that Chelsea will widen the gap as they must against Blackpool unless Ian Holloway becomes the Pied Piper and leads them off a bridge.
Tim Vickery instantly anointing Arsenal after Braga is an example of the danger a club faces getting ahead of themselves. And Wenger should hold off on comparisons to Vieira, Bergkamp, and Tony Adams. Loftiness is not what the Gunners need – grubby is more like it.