Arsenal 3 (Van Persie 7, 80, Senderos 14) Sunderland 2 (Wallace 25, Jones 48)
A delayed report today, but that’s probably a good thing as we’re now in the midst of an international fortnight and consequently there will be precisely nothing to write about.
As the game was two days ago, I won’t go into painstaking details on the action, more on the analysis.
For the record, Van Persie scored a bullet free kick after the team got off to a flying start, and after the play had been pulled back, preventing Diaby from notching his second screamer of the season. Senderos then bobbled in an untidy second before Diaby was unlucky again, having a goal wrongly disallowed for offside.
From there the team slacked off badly, Ross Wallace scoring with a neat finish after Almunia had saved well, and Kenwyne Jones heading the ball past him when he hadn’t acquitted himself quite so admirably.
Toure smashed the post from thirty yards, Walcott miskicked in front of goal, but then redeemed himself, turning the defence inside out before supplying RVP for the winner. Theo then hit the inside of the post himself, while Paul McShane joined the ‘let’s all kill Alex Hleb’ club by sterilising him with his studs.
It was a strange game really, you could argue that on another day, the flag would’ve stayed down for Diaby’s offside goal, Toure and Walcott would’ve scored instead of smacking the frame of the goal, and the score could’ve been comparable to the Derby game.
On the flip side, you could also argue that on another day, Senderos wouldn’t have miskicked the second goal in, and Sunderland would’ve scored with the late chances they had to level.
So 3-2 has to go down as a good result. Yet immediately after the game, our challenge for the league was again written off in many quarters because of the perceived weakness in the back five.
I find that strange. It is widely recognised that Toure is one of the finest centre backs in the world, and that Clichy and Sagna are a superb full back pairing (although the latter had a poor game on Sunday). So the focus is mainly on Almunia and Senderos, both of whom you could argue are not first teamers. And despite the fact he could’ve perhaps done better for the second goal, I thought our Spanish keeper actually looked very sharp.
But the statistics provide the main argument. We have played thirteen games in all competitions this season, and even with the brace that Sunderland managed, only conceded six goals, less than a goal every other game. For such a free scoring, open team, that’s not exactly a bad record is it?
I find the argument just a strange as the perception that the squad is thin, by people who clearly don’t pay any attention to the Carling Cup scores and performances. Especially given that we apparently lack depth compared to United, whose reserves looked so pitiful against Coventry.
Still, I have no problem with the press not labelling Arsenal as league favourites – that would create extra pressure. I have no doubt that they expect the wheels to come off in the double header against Liverpool and United which occurs soon after this break. If those matches go well, then there really will be a change of tune.
International fortnight. Try to contain your excitement.