Arsenal 2-1 Sunderland: Not just a one man show
Monday, 17th Oct 2011 10:10
Another improved display builds the platform for Robin van Persie to seal the three points.
Arsenal moved into the top half of the table with a fifth home victory in a row and there are signs that Wenger's new team may not be as bad as the protestors would have us believe.
We started the game in impressive fashion and controlled the tempo of the match, ensuring Sunderland were always on the back foot. Our dominance of the first 25 minutes was kick started by a slick move and, surprisingly, a perfectly weighted final ball from Gervinho which allowed Robin van Persie to shift the ball on to his right and plant the ball into the bottom corner from just inside the area.
Soon after another superb move allowed van Persie the space to turn Kieran Richardson on the edge of the area and chip a Bergkampesque effort on to the inside of the post which then bounced on the goal line before being cleared. It would have comfortably been the goal of the month but the crowd were soon to see two more contenders that did find the net.
Unpredictably the first came from a Sunderland team who had not been able to muster a single decent attack in the first quarter of the match. A free kick was awarded twenty five yards out after Mikel Arteta jumped for a header with an outstretched arm that made connection with the ball before his head. Sebastian Larsson stepped up and bent a superb effort into the top corner. We had 6' 6" Per Mertesacker in the wall and the Swedish international still managed to elevate the shot and put enough dip on the ball to see it fall underneath the crossbar. For the second time this season Tomas Rosicky stood to the side of the wall with a knowing grin on his face as the ball flew past him into the net. At Old Trafford he also seemingly predicted the goal without turning around and it is a bizarre habit.
Sunderland carried some impetus through to half time and created two more good chances, one of which was saved magnificently by Wojciech Szczesny. Our 'keeper had almost made a calamitous mistake earlier in the game by rushing out to try to intercept a through ball but he made amends before half time by flinging himself across the goal to make a point blank save. We went into the break level and our dominant start had been wasted.
We started the second half in a more positive mood and this time managed to restrict Sunderland's opportunities for the whole half. We were not attacking with enough incisiveness but a composed defensive performance led by the impressive Mertesacker meant that we could commit more wholeheartedly to our attacks. The pressure was building on Steve Bruce's side but it took another piece of set piece skill to settle the result and Van Persie bent another perfect free kick into the top corner to continue his superb 2011.
The Dutchman outlined his commitment to the club in the programme and no one can question his performances on the pitch after a slightly sluggish start to the season. His ability to make the difference in the final third is extremely valuable but as Wenger stated after the match, we will respect his decision if he decides to leave as he approaches his thirties because, as we are beginning to show, Arsenal will always recover and build no matter who leaves the club.
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Photo: Action Images
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