I was left really disappointed and angry on Saturday about how the game played out. After giving myself time to think, I realized that it was just one of those games that hits you smack on the face without you even realizing and you can’t do anything about it. For most part of the game, I was convinced that we would get the three points even though we weren’t playing the way we play. It wasn’t the Arsenal that we are used to seeing. It was something different from what we have seen over the last couple of years and nothing was bad about it – except yes we didn’t create much. What I am talking about is the composure shown by our team, even with a man down. As for the goal that we let in at the last moment, shit happens, unfortunately we were at the receiving end.
Sunderland made a good start and continued with it throughout the match and credit to them, as they never sat back and continuously probed for a goal. Still they didn’t create anything of worth as our defenders saw to that. We were lucky to go ahead with the bizarre goal of Fabregas early in the first half – but hey you make your own luck and credit to Fabregas for closing the defender down. We should have administered our authority on the game after this though that didn’t happen till the second half. We were down a man in the second half, we missed a penalty but we still managed to remain ahead till the 94 minutes. When that final corner was cleared, I said to myself that we are through but that’s when everything stopped for me. The goal was scored, the final whistle blew and the reality dawned on me that the match was drawn. My first thought was to somehow reverse the time and make the ref to blow the damned whistle as the corner was cleared. But as it was, the game wasn’t a failure at all; disregarding the fact that we dropped the two points, which could easily have been three.
The talking point from the match is the pathetic refereeing. The time played after the extra time allocated was over, the ridiculous yellow card shown to Song and the way the Sunderland players were getting away after clearly doing worse fouls. All the decisions are debatable and whether it affected the outcome or not, it’s up to how you see it. For me, the ref made many wrong decisions though we had the outcome in our hand and we blew it.
Coming to Arsenal, the first half display was poor but only by our midfield and forwards. We played better in the second half as a team, even with a man down, and we were also having more possession as compared to the first half. The problem was the giving away of the ball far too easily on most occasions that allowed the opposition to attack. This brings me to the fact that our defending was admirable if not perfect. Koscielny and Squillaci were awesome and both of them are top class. They never once panicked and were on top of their game, not giving too much space to the opposition. Credit also goes to Nasri and Rosicky because whenever they had the ball we looked the better team.
Coming to player ratings:
Almunia: Another solid and commanding performance. Punched, caught, held and cleared the ball well. 7
Sagna: Covered his side well defensively but didn’t create much going forward. 6.5
Squillaci: Outstanding performance. Always composed and never gave the space to the opposition. 7.5
Koscielny: Same as above but also won most of the headers. 7.5
Clichy: Started brightly but faded away. Most of the penetration was from his side. He panics whenever under pressure that leads to a mistake. But I do love his commitment. Still I think it’s time to give Gibbs a chance. 6
Song: The first yellow was harsh but still he was doing useless fouls. He is good going forward but in this match it led to us being exposed too many times. He should have been more composed. 5.5
Fabregas: All the credit for closing the defender down for the goal. Still didn’t control the match from the start. 6
Wilshere: Not a good game at all for him. Gave away the ball far too many times even when not under pressure. Had a better second half. 6
Nasri: It was an average game for him. He won the penalty and brought some stability to our attack in the second half but was awful in the first. I expect so much more from him as he has the creativity but didn’t show it this time. 6.5
Chamakh: Worked hard again but had no support at all. 6.5
Arshavin: Again absent from the match. He had two scoring chances but missed them. Could have done better. 5.5
Rosicky: Missed a penalty (this can happen to anyone), still he was one of the better players. Held the ball well under pressure. 6.5
Denilson: Could have scored the winner for us, was good in holding the ball and breaking the Sunderland play but did make a few mistakes that would have led to a goal. 6.5
Well we should not look too much into this game. The positives are that we are looking better on the defensive side, Almunia is performing well, we are still unbeaten with three tricky away fixtures out of the way, our injured players are going to return and we are still second in the league.
On the points dropped, I would leave that to you. For me a point is better than no point. As for how it will affect our title chances, it’s still too early and let’s hope it doesn’t come to haunt us in the end. For now the next match should be the priority.
Next up is Tottenham in the Carling Cup. Till then!