Arsenal’s High Five


Sunderland 0 – 1 Arsenal

0 – 1 Cazorla (35)

Sent off: Carl Jenkinson (62)

I’m guessing that Carl Jenkinson was better prepared for his late introduction to the starting line-up than Ray Parlour was twenty years ago at Anfield. He probably wishes he had partaken of a Parlourian pre-match pint given how his afternoon turned out. When Arsène recently dealt a blow to conspiracy theorists by decrying claims of refereeing corruption, he did not argue against incompetence and Anthony Taylor spent the whole of the ninety minutes proving ineptitude is rife. In terms of the cards he received, there is no argument against Jenkinson’s dismissal but how Lee Catermole remained on the pitch beyond the half-time is a mystery that would have inspired Toyah to give up on Sheep Farming In Barnet.

O’Neill’s men set about Arsenal quite literally and invoked the sort of punishments that their endeavours deserved. Except Taylor believed the visitors were to blame for enticing those Sunderland Bravehearts into foul play. Short of reducing Arsenal to the minimum seven players, it is hard to fathom what else he could have done to bolster Sunderland’s quest for maximum points. There was no need; Laurent Koscielny failed to complete the warm-up and Bacary Sagna adapted to the situation, arriving at kick-off as centre back rather than on the right hand side. That injury proved to be the least of his worries when early in the second half, Jack Wilshere crumpled in a heap under a (relatively) innocuous challenge and was immediately substituted. The ten days before the visit of Bayern Munich will hopefully be utilised to its fullest extent so that the mercurial midfielder is fit.

In the end, neither of those incidents negatively impacted on the outcome. Wilshere’s surging run found Theo Walcott in space on the edge of the area, his measured lay-off was met with a superb finish from Santi Cazorla, the ball spinning and fizzing into the net with ten minutes of the first half remaining. It was all that Arsenal deserved, dominating possession and looking threatening at every opportunity. That was until the inequality in numbers left the inevitable Sunderland onslaught and when that was made to count, Szczensy and Sagna were there to defend the lead, to ensure three points returned to north London.

Arsenal started brightly, Walcott was denied twice by Mignolet in the early stages, a battle that raged through the afternoon. Even when the goalkeeper was beaten, the woodwork came to his rescue as the England striker ended the day without a goal. At the other end, Sunderland threatened without creating clear openings. Jenkinson had received his first yellow before Giroud skewed his shot wide and Ramsey had drawn a flying save from Mignolet. The screw was turning and the Sunderland defence creaking, Cazorla piercing their resistance; a goal which surely signalled the beginning of an Arsenal onslaught.

Walcott might have doubled the advantage with a drive that went wide whilst Mignolet spread himself to block a Ramsey shot, one that he knew little about stopping as the ball hit his thigh. Sunderland began more forcefully in the second half but Arsenal should have increased their lead with Giroud and Cazorla going close before Jenkinson committed his second scything challenge to end his contribution to the afternoon. There are frequent complaints of bias against Arsenal from officials but we cannot complain about the decision to send Jenkinson off. They were rash challenges, ones that did not necessarily need to be made. Experience will teach the lad when to make the challenge, when not but more importantly, that when he has received a yellow card there will only be one outcome when he commits a similar foul.

As if a pendulum gently coursing its way to the other end of its range, the balance of power inevitably favoured the home side with their numerical superiority. Wojciech Szczensy had largely been a spectator but now his concentration would be fully tested and the Pole did not disappoint. Arsenal still probed on the break, Cazorla went close but Walcott thought he had eased the pressure as the ball slid past Mignolet toward the goal, the gutwrenching agony of watching it strike the post engulfing the England striker. Sunderland breathed a sigh of relief and intensified their efforts. Mertesacker’s clearance clattered into Fletcher but the ensuing shot was turned away by Szczesny. The same outcome from Fletcher’s header minutes later sapped the belief from the hosts, every save, clearance or timely tackle bolstering the Arsenal defence.

And proof of the points came with the referee checking his watch, Titus Bramble managed to miss the target from close range when scoring seemed easier. Arsenal were holding firm, sporadically attacking on the break. Neither side could make the telling breakthrough and at the final whistle, the pleasure derived from the victory was clear to see in the Arsenal players reactions.

It was a hard-fought last twenty minutes but prior to that, Arsenal were clearly the better side. O’Neill cannot fathom how Sunderland didn’t score after Jenkinson went off, Wenger similarly so for the first hour. I don’t think any of the Arsenal players could have done more in the final stages; Sagna as a centre back, Arteta in the defensive midfield role as well as Szczesny. If Monreal had any preconceptions about the physicality of the English game, Stoke and Sunderland have done nothing to dispel those myths.

Crucially there is a determination evident in the last two matches that was noticeable by its absence in abject away performances earlier in the season. Belief may be returning to the squad, confidence in their own abilities. As it is, six points out of six this month is perfect, just what the manager would be demanding. A brief break from League as the two tournaments which can be won intercede and a different set of challenges await.

’til Tomorrow.


168 thoughts on “Arsenal’s High Five

  1. No 4th is not ambition, but if the Spuds get 4th, or Liverpool, or Everton, they will tout it as proof of ambition, and celebrate accordingly. It IS an achievement to get 4th, it guarantees us CL football and means we are an attractive proposition to players we hope to sign (don’t laugh). All hell will break loose if we don’t get it, be sure of that, the same folks moaning that they couldn’t care less about 4th, will sure do a lot screaming if we fail to reach it

  2. A few seasons out of any European competition – yeah that sounds brilliant Bob – we would not have to put up with all this Champions League shit

    We’d have our Arsenal back then

  3. Course they won’t Harry – I expect they will have a banner and get the bin bags out

    They don’t agree with all that commercial stuff that finishing 4th entails

  4. Brilliant post Yogi and great chatter amongst the lads today I dare must say.

    For me hope Everton lose period, we beneift end of discussion.

    I agree with Bob and JJ, win a trophy this year we have all pretty conceded that 3rd and 4th will more than likely be up for grabs so lets go and win a trophy and show some real ambition. For me personally there would be great joy in us finishing 5th in the PL only to go and win the CL and knock the Spuds out again this year.

    So lets go win the CL and win the FA and finish in 3rd. I’m a happy Gooner and the world is right again.

  5. how can CL help us attract the best players when we A. wont pay the money for them. B wont pay the wages for them C sell them anyway?

    CL footballs nice but 4th spot is for the losers if you want to be in europe then do it properly by winning something..

  6. Theo has been consistenly producing better numbers than Bale, but because Bale is a “complete” footballer with a “footballing brain”, one is considered world class and the other one, well, not.

  7. No, that’s not hat I said, Anicoll. Finishing 4th just doesn’t excite me. Of course we all enjoy European football but it is in danger of becoming the limits of our ambition for man.

    As for your point, Harry. No, I won’t be screaming in that instance, the same as I won’t be throwing a party if we do get 4th. I question our ambition now, I might question it a bit more rigorously if Everton or the tots finish above us though.

  8. They do like a good banner ‘Coll. And a bin bag. And a march of course. If they can combine all three then they are like pigs in sh*t.

  9. Didn’t imagine you would be screaming Bob, wasn’t really aimed at the likes of yourself. I’m sure you know that though.

    I don’t think it’s the limits of our ambition at all. I strongly disagree with that. I think Arsene has been rebuilding, we can see that now, maybe one or two choice additions in the summer and we may be ready to compete for the title. 4th is important for the filthy lucre, the prestige and all the rest of it. No I won’t be “celebrating”, not like I would if we won the FA cup. I shan’t belittle it though.

  10. id swap a loss in every PL game from now until the end of the season for a win in every CL game in the same period

  11. You don’t get excited by it Bob I would hazard a guess because you are used to it, season after relentless season, year in year out

    A few seasons without it will spark up everyone’s appetite

  12. The mood is much better after this result. Great win.

    It’s the away form that will define our finishing position.

    We are playing away from home:

    The Tots
    West Brom

    Some serious challenges in those fixtures. Last year, we got only 4 points from those fixtures alltigether. And judging from our away form this season, to expect to win all of them would be too optimistic. I would take just 4 wins out of 6 right now.

    Will the Tots keep the pace? To expect a collapse from them every season is a bit careless on Arsene’s side.

    All in all, a top four finish is still a hard task.

    But with Chelsea and ManCity struggling, who knows?

    I certainly don’t. Just preparing myself for the worst (5-th).

  13. for all the additions we may get in the summer we like to make a net profit in transfers so someone needs to go or nobody will come in..

    bacary is the obvious choice and i know ppl like to think that we wont be selling any key players again this summer but nobody saw us selling song with three years left so im not convinced the ‘rebuild’ is over..

    if someone offers good money for jack what do we think we’ll do?

    but this is a discussion for the summer..

  14. Just finished watching Manure v Everton. I know this is raking over old ground a bit, but something struck me.
    RVP was making comments earlier in the season about getting his drive back and he also made mention of the team around him. I think he is the difference between us and them this season, the players around him are no better than what he would have had at Arsenal and in some cases are a lot worse. He might have had an argument about Arsenal not showing enough ambition with the attacking players around him at the end of last season, but our additions in the summer have strengthened the squad massively and is better than support in attack he has around at Manure. We are the third in the league in goal scoring behind Manure and Chelski with RVP’s goals being the difference between them being top and scrapping further down the table. RVP would likely have scored more goals this season in the current Arsenal set up than he has at Manure. He would have probably had a hat trick if he had played in the game against Sunderland yesterday. So his move to Manure being a move to a winning club is a load of old bollox, he has given them the title. If he had stayed at Arsenal with the additions we have made we would probably be up at the top.

    Another thing that struck about the game, in the dying minutes of the game old red nose stood at the edge of the pitch and glared at his watch every couple of seconds. At 91.30 in the game he was pretty much counting down. He obviously knew how long there was so he was simply attempting to intimidate the ref by continually checking his watch as the final seconds counted down. What a truly odious man!

  15. The corresponding results from the last season gave us 14 points in total.

    If we get the same this season, with 58 points we will not finish even 6-th.

    That’s why I’m pessimistic.

    Aston Villa h 3
    The Tots a 0
    Everton h 3
    Swansea a 0
    Reading h assuming 3
    West Brom a 3
    Norwich h 1
    Fulham a 0
    ManU h 0
    QPR a 0
    Wigan h 0
    Newcastle a 1

  16. Well, I said that about the squad and its potential only earlier today, Harry.

    I don’t see the evidence for ambition being shown over the last few years above aiming for the top four, that’s all.

    Just keep winning games. That’ll sort it.

  17. SV

    With my finger in the air, I say …27 points from that lot!

    71 points and somewhere in the top four 🙂

  18. So you did Bob. I hadn’t read all the earlier posts, my bad.

    Yup just keep winning games, can’t argue with that.

  19. And another frightening thought:

    ManU may win the title at our place with the Dutch scoring a double.

    Would be quite a day.

    But I think that will wrap it up earlier, so the fixture will be meaningless for them.

    Having said that, I think we’ll play them in the FA cup at some stage.

  20. “if someone offers good money for jack what do we think we’ll do?”

    He’s ours JJ. He’s one of us, and seems to relish the responsibility. I think everyone understands his importance to this side and his seemingly infinte potential. AW most of all. There will, inevitably, be attempts to prize a talent that size away in the future, but that’s a problem for….the future. Perhaps.

  21. @JJ
    It’s also down to the player. Do you think we would’ve sold RVP to anyone, even if somebody had come with a 40 million offer, if he had signed a new contract? If Jack wants to stay at the club, he won’t be sold, no matter what.

  22. If we can sell our best player to our most odious rivals , even with his contract running down, I don`t see how anyone can confidently predict us keeping our best players.

    Jack is indeed one of ours & I very much hope at the beginning of a long and illustrious Arsenal career….I just don`t trust the club any more.

  23. Well his client just having signed a five year contract with the club of his own free will I have no doubt whatsoever Jack’s agent will be knocking on the door in a few short months insisting we double his wage – at least

    Could not give a toss

  24. @Paulie
    All the players we have sold in recent times have either been sold because they wanted out or because they didn’t fit the requirements of the club anymore. I can’t remember a single player we have sold, even though he would’ve preferred to stay. And there are players like that, just look at Agger. They were close to selling him to City, even though the player kept expressing how he doesn’t want to leave up to the point, that he got himself a nice YNWA tattoo.
    If something like that had happened at our club, I would have been disgusted. But it hasn’t.

  25. There is only one way to keep Jack at the club as long as possible.

    You have to surround him with players of quality so that the team is challenging for the trophies.

    He is a real talent, may be the most promising player in the league at the moment.

    He deserves to be given a chance to become an Arsenal legend.

    Over to you, Stan, Ivan und Arsene. Do not let Jack and the fans down.

  26. It’s up to the player. I’m not going to mention his name, ‘cos it’s beyond tiresome, but that particular individual wanted to move on. So he did. Roll credits. I don’t know what we could have done to prevent him moving to Man Utd, I wasn’t, and neither were any of us, privy to the ins and outs of those negotiations. We just go by what we read in the press. It’s churlish to always lay the blame at the feet of the club/manager though. Perhaps it WAS in the club’s best interests to cut their losses, take the cash and start afresh (I can hear Ateeb screaming somewhere and throwing his laptop out of the window). Maybe we should have kept him and ran his contract down. We didn’t. A gamble either way. He’s gone now. History. Forget about it.

    Jack is young, seems to love being at Arsenal, and as long as that continues then he’ll be our player. The ink is still fresh on his contract. Yes money will rear it’s head, alas that’s the nature of the beast, hopefully that will be sorted along the way.
    I think we have the beginnings of a fantastic team now, one that will challenge in the near future and one that new players will want to be a part of. Now ‘scuse me while I go polish my rose tinted spectacles.

  27. You`re quite right of course, Evil. At the moment that is.

    After all, we loved the boy who left Barca to play for us & RVP was of course a true Gooner – yet they are now gone.

    I agree with SV. IMO , Jack`s long term future will be linked to us challenging for trophies.

  28. If he was a “true Gooner” he would never have gone there, and in that fashion. F*ck him (with the greatest respect to his obvious talent). The end.

  29. @jj trust me if we suddenly became a top 6 team instead of a top 4 team then “this 4th place buisness” would suddenly become interesting. Just ask Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool.

  30. @JJ i doubt it would matter what people offered for Jack, he seems like he loves arsenal and wants to stay( a bit like monkeyboy over at tottenham).

    He also has a contract and a club cannot sell a player against his will. Just look at chamakh et al..

    Really for better or for worse, i think we are stuck with jack om 80k a week…

  31. honestly, when you are 12 or 24 points behind no1. are you then really rivals? I mean can you really say City is a rival to united if they loose out with more than 10 points? They have asmuch chance as us to with that trophy now…

    Only a miracle would save them…

  32. poodle that law only applies if your not winning top cups..

    if your winning the cl but finishing 6th who gives a fuck..?

  33. I trust all footballers

    I trust them because they tell me how much they love my football club

    I trust them because they kiss the badge of my football club

    But most of all I trust them because if they weren’t footballers there is fuck all else they could do

    In the sort of real world

  34. Put Bayern away and you have to wonder JJ

    Formidable team but I do not think they play a team that play – on the right day – as we can very often

  35. bayern will either put us to sleep or we will sneak through..
    if we get passed them then the confidence should see us over the line especially if jack and the three strikers stay fit..

  36. Do I trust the management ?

    God forbid

    Do I think the management are doing a decent job ?

    Tick that box

    Could I do better ?

    What you mean without the huge advantage of hindsight ?

    Don’t be silly

  37. Only one game every player, coach, manager, director and fan needs to think about this week and that is Blackburn

    In my opinion

  38. i doubt any of us could do better really..

    but i think they can..and they’ve had about 5 years of hindsight to work with..

  39. i agree
    all this talk of top 4 is boring when we have two trophies to play for..

    win them first..

    we should be finishing top four anyway..

  40. hah if we indeed end up doing a chelsea i will be over the moon. Just as i would smirk if Bale ends up doing an RvP 🙂

  41. I hope Bale stays at Sp*rs for the long term, as (I’ve said this previously) I don’t think he is worth the money they could potentially receive for him.

    £40ish million spent wisely could work wonders for most teams, let alone a team who in recent years has been a mere fraction behind ourselves.

    What would you rather have: £35/40m at your disposal or Gareth Bale? £40m for me thanks.

    What is Bale’s salary? A perfect scenario would for us would be a contract run-down and him walking away for next to nothing.

  42. Matt, glad you said “most” teams. We’ve had hudge amounts of money to spend from transfers as well but choose not to. So you never know?

  43. Interesting comments today guys. To echo JJ’s comments, I too think we can beat Bayern but to do that, we need to be at our very best. With our very best players fit. Diaby has been playing very well since he came back and I think Arsene has handled him well too. JW was taking no chances when he signalled to the bench to take him off, maturity? Definitely but I would think it also had a lot to do with being out injured for so long. Rosicky I still feel may be the most important player in the final few months of the season, he is always up for a fight and really lifts those around him when he is playing. As to finishing in the CL spots? I think we will accomplish that too. Another 5-2 win over the Spuds would be the icing on the cake if it were to happen.

    As to RVP whom someone mentioned earlier. I agree that Man Utd are not so much better that we cannot beat them on our day but the difference between us was stated quite clearly by the Dutch C**t himself recently. He said that, in training before every opponent, another Dutch C**t who is one of Utd’s coaches has them practice specific routines to exploit certain weaknesses their opponents have. In other words, they are much more tactically astute than we are or ever will be under AW. Unless something changes that is. AW likes to put his faith in his players innate ability to beat any opponent, complete foolishness if you ask me. Arrogant too. It works on many an occasion but on many other occasions we are too often left scratching our heads wondering how we did not win when we clearly dominated the opposition.

    In my opinion, and I have stated it before, I think we should also have an Offensive Coordinator to compliment Bould as our Defensive Coordinator. It seems ridiculous that we have one and not the other. When I read recently that Dennis Bergkamp may be returning to the club (hearsay I know) it actually got my hopes up. To have someone like him take a few days to study our next upcoming opponent, identify their weaknesses and then have our team practice exploiting those same weaknesses for a few hours in training seems to me to be an excellent form of preparation. I know all teams do this to some extent but Utd seem to have taken it to another level. Old Red Nose himself has admitted to not really knowing how to run a proper training session, which is why he surrounds himself with those who do. AW on the other hand is much more hands on, which of course has paid its dividends but why not have both? Surely a light training session led by DB or some other Offensive Coach before the next match could focus our players on our opponents defensive frailties more than that which we have been doing all along?

    How many times have we watched The Arsenal completely outplay our opponent and then seemingly run out of ideas in the final third? It is obviously not a lack of skill on the part of our players but an area we need to work on nonetheless. Under Mourinho the Chavs were excellent at breaking down their opponents who came and parked the bus. Many times I watched them and had to admit how they did it was exceptional. We for some reason refuse to learn how to do it or simply refuse to admit that we do need to learn. It is this area of our game that I have always found myself agreeing with those who want Wenger out, as they have a point, in that he is altogether too comfortable in his position. Safe in the knowledge that so long as we do well enough (i.e. CL qualification, a run in one of the cups) that he will still be there next season. I do not blame him for this nor do I want him out but rather blame the board. It should be they who say to him that this is no longer good enough and ask him to pinpoint where we can be improving. I feel an OC would be a large part of the answer. However, this would mean he would have to cede some of his control at the club to another person, something I have always had the feeling he is reticent to do.

    We have conceded less goals than Utd this season but have scored fewer. I think overall our defense is pretty good, apart from some altogether awful howlers, the recent game at Liverpool springs to mind. Yet I think it would be even more solid with a more tactical approach from our attacking players. Theo is a good example. His is a raw talent that is becoming more and more refined, which we have especially seen this season but his tactical awareness to me is almost non-existant. An even better example though is Podolski. I have watched him playing for Germany many times and positionally he is excellent, both going forward and defending. Yet many times for us I have watched as we break from the back and he remains just inside our half of the pitch, unsure of whether to commit to the break completely or hold back in case we lose possession. To me this shows a tactical breakdown in communication between him and our defense. If he goes, he is unsure if our LB and Dm will spot the gap and cover him. Considering we play a 4-3-3, not having our attacking left winger instantly breaking forward, immediately limits how effective our break will be and at the same time strengthens the opponents defensive options. When Man Utd break, both wingers are instantly gone, tearing down the wings with abandon, safe in the knowledge that their defense will immediately provide the cover necessary in case possession is lost and they cannot get back in time to help defend. Simple but devestating in almost all of their games. Mancini won last year with raw talent but then only by goal difference, a pure fluke in the long run of things. I am not surprised they have fallen short this year, CL too as they are also a bit naieve in their tactics.

    As to why someone of AW’s obvious intellect cannot semmingly grasp the importance of tactics, both offensive and defensive, I simply do not understand. It sure does make for some exciting and thrilling games though. I mean, who else could gift a 4 goal lead to Reading, only then to storm back and win 7-5? Or the Newcastle result? It is not for nothing we are seeing so many posters on here cheering a “1 Nil to The Arsenal” result so happily.

    But in the long run I feel unless we see an improvement in our tactical ability, it will be a long time before we win the PL again, which I think may just explain why AW has taken the Cups so seriously this year.

    Fcuking Bradford!

  44. I’m as excited by the rumors surrounding DB s arrival at ARSENAL but I’m not sure it will be in the OC capacity as I think AW is playing that role for us presently. Can we be more dynamic tactically.??
    Wouldn’t mind that at all.
    should we work on our weekly opponents weaknesses the week before facing them??
    I’m not too sure we don’t do that already. I think it’s a very important at
    area to concentrate some effort there..

  45. Irish, I know there are quotes from Arsene that seem to contradict it but I think it’s a myth that we don’t take our opponents weaknesses into account at least on some level.

  46. barcelona and spain break down opponents without giving much importance to specific frailties of the opposition.

    its possible.

    it just needs a lot of playing time together and a lot of quick thinking by the players.

  47. btw its not arrogance..its a philosophy.

    its a philosophy that states good attacking play often beats good defending. the rationale being attackers are proactive and defenders reactive.

    i think its what differentiates arsenal from rest of them.

  48. So Santos is off to Gremio on loan for 6 months to a year. I do wish him all the best, regain the form that made home the undisputed LB for Los Selecaos and enjoy fútbol again as I would truly enjoy watching him at his flying samba dancing best!

    While many will point to his latest form even though he has barely played, I will remember his form from last term when he played regurlary and was brilliant. Helping to solidifiy the left flank and producing moments of inspiration and skill.

    To my dancing Samba bear, I will never forget!

  49. Irish

    I’m agreeing with you on that.

    I think its most obvious when we are struggling to break a team down, but there appears to be no tactical support from the bench. The illusive “plan B” is never implemented and we keep going down the same blind alleys against a resolute defence. I feel that is why there is little impetus to bring subs on earlier in the game to change things, usually its a like for like change or just a case of taking off a forward to introduce someone more defensively minded. Football is adaptive as teams can set their stall out to frustrate their opposition (even Mancini used to park the bus at the Emirates)and just continuing to play in your usual style when a team has set themselves up to specifically counter that style is foolhardy. AW has brought us a fantastic style of football which is a joy to watch when the the team is buzzing, but I wish he would get more support from(or maybe listen to) the coaches around him when we have to adjust our approach to get round teams. Mourinho is well known for his tactical analysis and I’ve heard it said that he provides each player with a folder highlighting their role and the strengths and weaknesses of those they are up against prior to each game. I don’t know how AW approaches each game, but I’m hoping we do a lot of work on how we counter Bayern Munich’s play. Our defensive line up is going to be a bit makeshift as Gibbs is out and Monreal is cup-tied so the players will need to be drilled on theirs roles and responsibilities.

  50. Arshavin23

    but Madrid and Barcelona play a pressing game where they try to close teams down and ensure they have no time on the ball. Then they try to play through a defence, but Barcelona have also found that doesn’t work all the time. They very lucky to get a questionable penalty against Valencia for a draw recently as Valencia should probably have won the game. Real Madrid appear to have been found out in La Liga this season with their recent loss to Granada a demonstration that you can’t just keep playing your own game and assume it will work. Not sure why Mourinho is not using that tactical brain he is so famed for this season.

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