Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Arsenal 2 Sunderland 1

A surprise inclusion in the starting line-up was Tomas Rosicky instead of the usual starter, Aaron Ramsey, who has minor hamstring fatigue, according to Wenger's post-match interview, but it turned out to be a right decision as Rosicky had a very good game.

Jenkinson took the much-speculated right-back position in the absence of Bacary Sagna. The rest of the starting line-up was as anticipated. Koscielny returned from the injury to form the central defensive partnership once again with Mertesacker.

The game was never comfortable for Arsenal, apart from the first half an hour before Sunderland equalised, and the performance may not have been convincing. However, what mattered was the whole three points. Especially after the disappointing result for the encouraging performance at the While Hart Lane, the result was very important.

After a series of wasted chances with poor final ball, when it looked that we were heading for a disappointing draw, it was RVP's class and skills that made the difference in the end. Before he took on the free-kick, we were talking about when Arsenal scored from a free-kick last time because we had already had three free-kicks by this time, all of which were a total waste.

To recap each player's performance, the following are our player ratings:

Szczeny: 8
Seb Larsson's free-kick was unstoppable. Apart from rushing out of the area, he did not put his foot wrong. His save of Cattermole's close range shot was a game decider.

Jenkinson: 6
Looked good going forward as usual. He looks as he might make it.

Mertersacker: 6
Gave away some clumsy fouls.

Koscielny: 7
Some terrific passes and good moves going forward.

Gibbs: 5
His passing was negative, tending to go backwards, but probably his injury (inflammation of the abdominal muscles) may have affected his performance.

Arteta: 5
I had to take back my words about him being one of a few consistent players in the previous post. This was his poorest game. His free-kicks and corners were poor. Although we are not quite sure if the ball actually hit his arm, he needlessly put his arm up which led to the free-kick and subsequently cost us a goal.

We don't miss Fabregas greatly, although some of his quality, such as his vision, was a huge loss, but what Arsenal miss most is Fabregas-Wilshere-Song as a unit. They had the right balance of defence and attack among them and good understanding and communications when the balance needed to be adjusted. We know Wenger does not like to play two defensive midfielders together, but if Arsenal play Frimpong or Coquelin alongside Song and Arteta, it may get the best out of Arteta. Of course, Frimpong and Coquelin have to step up their attacking side of the game to fill the gap Wilshere left. Playing alongside another attack-minded central midfielder, such as Rosicky or Ramsey, does not seem to be getting the best out of Arteta at the moment.

Rosicky: 8
He was involved in every attacking move, with several good runs.

Song: 7
Provided covers for the back four and crucial tackles, but the yellow card was needless.

Walcott: 5
He was anonymous, not involved in the game at all.

Gervinho: 6
He made a great run to set up the quick first goal for RVP. He looked dangerous in the box with his skills, but his final ball needs to improve.

Van Persie: 9
He showed captain's commitment when it most mattered.


Santos: 7
Looked good going forward, but he should have had a shot instead of looking for somebody to pass to.

Arshavin: 8
As soon as he came on the pitch, he made the impact. Arsenal looked more purposeful with him. He was energetic and nearly scored a brilliant goal, showing great skills to get past three Sunderland players.

Benayoun: 7
Carried on Rosicky's good work, which could have faded as the game went on. Good substitution as well as Arshavin.

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