Sunderland frustrate a frustrating Arsenal, 0-0

szólj hozzá: Arsenal vs Sunderland 0:0 HIGHLIGHTS
If you wanted to know where the goals were going to come for Arsenal in the post RVP world, then this was not the match to provide those answers. Sunderland packed it in the second half and the best chance fell to Oliver Giroud with all the dimensions in the world at his disposal after Santi Cazorla’s brilliant pass found him but he shanked the ball. It was embarrassing to say the least. His moment to write history and he came up short. As it were a late goal would have been enough to ensure a win.
Arsenal’s new purchases were all on display and Cazorla on a hot day was head and shoulders above anyone on the Emirates pitch. At times he looked too good for this Arsenal side and his face mirrored that frustration. Playing centrally just behind Lukas Podolski, his two footed qualities kept the defense guessing so much that Martin O’Neill was forced to delegate Lee Cattermole to shadow his every move.
Podolksi drifted in and out of the attack not looking especially sharp or physical. There was a chance for him to capitalize on his footspeed when Gervinho’s pass from midfield found him but with an empty goal in front of him he was beaten rather easily to the ball by a defender. On another occasion, Walcott’s quick feed into the box found him being bundled out by Craig Gardner and Carlos Cuellar, who were pillars in this Sunderland defense.
The first half saw an Arsenal playing at half pace seemingly trying to get their passes right and there was just a lot of lateral movement. Only Gervinho and to some extent Walcott down the wings tried picking up the pedestrian pace. Cazorla fired a warning shot but Simon Mignolet was alert in palming the ball over the crossbar and later Gervinho’s cut back saw the Spaniard coming in front of Podolski to hit a first time drive which went narrowly wide. Poldi might have fancied that chance himself because it was about the same way he scored his second goal against Koln. Walcott could have put Arsenal up just before the half but he couldn’t keep his header down from Cazorla’s cross and then he side netted a waist high ball from a sharpish angle.
It was Sunderland who looked engaged in the initial 20 minutes of the half and James McClean had a very good chance after beating the offside trap but his shot was well stopped by Szczesny. Later, Jack Colback tested the Arsenal goalie with his left foot.
Song was not on the pitch with his Barca transfer to be completed over the weekend and Wenger started with Abou Diaby. The Frenchman had a decent game given he managed only five games last season. He was physical and when the occasion merited showed some attacking chops but the biggest test he managed to pass was remaining fit for the 70 minutes before being replaced by Aaron Ramsey. Bacary Sagna’s place was taken by Carl Jenkinson who was not tested very much against a non-existent Sunderland attack but going front he was off with his crosses. That is one aspect of his game that Sagna has improved tremendously over time.
Arsenal picked it up in the second half but by that time Sunderland had given up any pretensions to an attack. Gervinho again provided all the danger down both flanks but with him there is always this great uncertainty with what he’s going to do next with the ball. He gets you to the box but he either takes too many touches and when he decides to shoot or pass, the defense has already closed him down.
It’s the first game of the season and quite understandably Arsenal didn’t come flying out of the gates. There were three new players, a holding midfielder and a half back coming back from long injury absences, and a second string right back. It will take a bit of time to gel to get their ground game going. What Arsenal did not do well was on set pieces which is another way of breaking the logjam. They managed seven corners but not one looked threatening and they were unable to force a save out of Mignolet on the free kicks.

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