Sunderland 1 – 1 Arsenal, Out Of Jail? More Points Dropped…

Today we got out of jail, we were 1-0 down on the 93rd minute and Cesc scored a vital equaliser. Of course the equaliser meant we salvaged a point, but it could have easily been three losses out of seven.

The poor performance today could have been for many reasons. Sunderland's approach to the game was frustrating us but perfect for them. With 10 behind the ball at all times and one or two players always closing down, they reduced time, space and movement. Our lack of movement simply meant that we had no space and although we had possession, we couldn't do anything moving forward.

Sunderland 1 – 1 Arsenal
Leadbitter (86), Cesc (93)

The tactics have to be questioned as the boss started with this formation:

Almunia
Sagna – Toure – Gallas – Clichy
Song
Walcott – Denilson – Fabregas – Van Persie
Adebayor

Notably, the last time we played this formation was away to Kiev, a game we also drew 1 – 1. Surely by playing a 4-1-4-1 we were giving Sunderland a little too much respect.

Not only do we restrict the amount of forward play we have, meaning Adebayor is being played against four defenders, with two centre back effectively marked one striker. We also play with Van Persie out of position and congest our midfield even further.

In my eyes, I cannot understand why a fit again Nasri was on the bench. It was clear to see how effective he was against Porto. It was almost comical at times to see how many players we had in midfield. Surely play a 4-4-2 and allow Van Persie to come back if required. But with Van Persie drifting in, we sometimes had 4 players in our central midfield, it seemed odd. With Sunderland putting 10 men behind the ball at all times, surely the creativeness of Nasri would have been essential. Having said all of this, Arsene must have had his reasons, he’s the boss and he’s won the titles. On the surface though, these poor performances do come round too often, and if we continue like this, our title challenge will fade away before Christmas. I’m not being pessimistic, but today is a game we should have won and so were the games against Hull and Fulham.

On to the game itself now and Sunderland also started with a 4-5-1 / 4-4-2. And the home side started well, with Toure potentially saving a very good chance with an awesome last ditch tackle when Gallas decided to walk off the pitch to tie up his shoelaces or something like that (I think)… The next chance also fell to Sunderland, with a poor back pass from Walcott straight into the path of Cisse, but a good save from Almunia kept the score at 0-0. The third major chance of the game fell to Cisse again and he shot from 25 yards, close, but high.

Next, it was our turn, and good possesion and intricate play counted for nothing, as we simply couldn’t break down the Sunderland defence. All our chances came from distance, tame efforts, crosses, all cut out. One cross from Walcott was palmed out but there was no-one there to follow it up. Both Cesc and Denilson shooting from distance.

Although we restricted Sunderland’s chances, we weren’t creating much either. The half ended 0-0 and between both teams, just three shots on target. We only had one, albeit the first half showed a routine 59% possession.

The second half started brightly as we looked more determined. A good piece of work by Cesc saw Walcott wide and flash a cross across goal, but noone was there to tuck it in… this 4-1-4-1 was seriously not working. We started to turn the screw. Our passing was quicker, our movement was quicker.

But then controversy.

Walcott made a great run down the right and with close control fired a cross on the floor to Van Persie to put us 1-0 up, but controvertially, the linesman put his flag up, stating that the whole ball had gone over the line. Never in a million years. Replays show it should never have been ruled out. Could this rash decision come back to haunt us?

After the goal was disallowed, we seemed to close in and slow down. Ade volleying a wayward ball at the keeper the main highlight of the next five minutes. Sunderland were now breaking more, with Richardson shooting from distance. A free kick was shortly awarded after a Sunderland player dived and it was very harsh to see Toure yellow carded.

Arsene threw on Bendtner and Nasri for Walcott and Denilson, but it was Sunderland that took the lead. Some waywood defending saw Leadbitter about 25 yards out and unchallenged he scored a shorcher. Another “world class” goal in two sucessive games. Luck was not on our side.

We threw Carlos Vela on for Song and changed to a 4-2-4 formation with Nasri and Cesc in the middle, and it was the dimutive Spanaird who score the winner. Van Persie took a corner in the 93rd minute and Cesc ran unmarked to head it in the net.

At the moment, this result and performance in the final third has pretty much ruined my weekend. We’ve dropped 7 points this season and it’s only 7 games old. At this rate, that 76 points. We definitely need to play 4-4-2 in future.

Let’s hope Blackburn, Hull, Man City and who ever Villa can all win and maybe that will make me feel a little better.

Until tomorrow…]]>

  • ArseFan101

    Definitely should have gone 4-4-2 with Nasri on the left and Van Persie up front. I think Ade’s eye is off the ball. He continually lost the ball up front and made no attempt to get it back. Bendtner doesn’t lose the ball so much and in my eyes, it’s time to drop Ade. The longer Wenger persists in playing Ade, the more points we will drop. Just imagine how many goals we would if we took our chances. Frustrating afternoon today.

  • http://deleted Dan

    < ![CDATA[Well its time to get the whisky out! Pretty depressing start to the weekend. Oh it gets better, Man U just scored.

    Positives - We came from behind, which is one thing i fear we really struggle to do. Chins seem to quick to drop at the moment, but alas we equalised so that was pleasing.

    Also, the manner of the goal is one to put a smile on your face. A set piece... Fabregas! Hard to believe. I cannot picture it at the moment, and am looking forward to seeing that on MOTD. As long as i wake up in time because sorrows need to be drowned! Maby i'll have to wait till Sunday night.]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog kierandelaney.net/blog

    < ![CDATA[Well, you know what? Luck is definately not on our side. A legitimate goal ruled out, a scorcher from 25yds and the like, its just not "fair".

    But we earned a point today when the chips were down, and perhaps Arsey will learn that 4-1-4-1 is not a great formation for the boys. I actually commented on this very blog that I'd like to see us try it, and still think against Chelski or ManUre it would be beneficial to shore up the defence, though against Sunderland I fully agree it was a regressive formation. You don't need to pack the midfield or batten down the hatches against a team with 1 striker and a defensive back 9.

    Nasri didn't look sharp to me against Porto, certainly not like he did at the beginning of the season, so I can only assume Arsey thought he'd rest him and return him to the team gently? I mean, you'd have thought Arsenal would cope without him against Sunderland. But for a team with such attacking talent, you've got to wonder why we aren't scoring for fun. I put the ball at Adebayors feet.

    Radio 5 Live commentators even picked up on Adebayor being a useless moody shit, and if the general populace start thinking it us Arsenal fans must be right. All the time "neutrals" tell me how good he is and I have to put them straight.

    The good news is I turned the radio off in absolute disgust after we conceded and found out when I checked for a match report just now that we equalised!!

    Looking on the bright side, this is a point earned away from home against a negative team - its not championship winning form just yet, but how many times last season even would we have not managed the equaliser? Its not like we battered the goal, so I suspect we should be thankful.

    29 goals scored now, 6 conceded (4 from set pieces) - and that is championship winning form, so lets hope we find a lucky penny or two.]]>

  • LEON

    i feel wenger made sum a formation because of knows that toure and gallas very vunreable to areial attacks and he was going very mush to give extra protection to the defence, i think that you just cant the same way as when you are playing at home,and i feel wenger mind set was to have a defensive side and i dont think thats a bad thing, the fact is arsenals very ristricted sunderland only a goals 25 meters but arsenal did not deserve to loseorwin wthat match but when we up against teams like chelsea we need play a more defensive type game.

  • http://arsespeak.wordpress.com jamesgillesp

    < ![CDATA[dev mate, I can only agree with you, the performance today wasn't up to scratch,and the tactics were questionble.

    I think the game could have been bery different if the RVP goal had been allowed.

    This is another case to support the introduction of goal line technology..

    1 point is at least something - but I remember games like this last season - Villa, Wigan, Birmingham.. It really isn't championship winning form...]]>

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[Its not a question of this or that; we should play this or that. Belief me Wenger is getting it all wrong. Go learn how to shot so that when the chips are down (passin) we have alternatives.

    We should all by now know that Arsenal is a shareholders club and not a real fans club. Till next 2 wks fellow goners]]>

  • Maxi

    < ![CDATA[I think most of you fans dont get it. Wenger has influenced ur mode of seeing things; u see black and call it white. Wenger should pls buy good players.

    Kleb + flamini= creativity and aggression;
    Nasiri + Denilson= well i guess u all figure it out. lol]]>

  • MalayGooners

    < ![CDATA[how worst arsenal tonight...I don't belive arsenal can survive if Mr Wenger still used 4-1-4-1....i think Arsene should fix for 4-4-2....
    Alamunia
    Sagna - Toure - Gallas - Clichy
    Walcott / Eboe - Cesc - Denilson - Nasri/Vela
    RvP - Bendtner / Adey]]>

  • http://arsespeak.wordpress.com jamesgillesp

    < ![CDATA[Maxi you are talking bollocks
    nasri is one of the most creative players we have..
    'Hleb' and flamini were good but they are gone now..]]>

  • jeffvip

    IMO, Adebayor is the one of the main factor why we can’t have 3 points against Sunderland. As a lone-striker, he kept run out of position. There are so many times van Persie and Walcott chips the ball into dangerous zone but he is NOT there… He should never played as lone striker bcos he do not have the skill in taking on defender… Yet, his first touch is poor and so poor, when the ball reach his feet, he loose it. Without van Persie supporting him at the back, he is pretty useless. What make me laugh is that he can’t even score a goal with his hand at the very last minutes of the game….lol Let Bendtner have a run on his ‘untouchable’ place at least a game or 2.

  • Maxi

    < ![CDATA[jamesgillesp u ar quiet a funny guy. Am sure u are influenced by the deception of Monsier Wenger. Let me tell u smthing, if u invest ur emotions in Arsenal u ar gonna get a heart attack or near.

    Wenger is messing up and the share holders arent questioning him.]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog kierandelaney.net/blog

    < ![CDATA[Come on boys, play nice. Some good old fashioned grammer and punctuation would be nice as well.

    Ade is not fit to be a lone striker - not because his touch lets him down, but because he just doesn't have the pace to exploit the break, which is what a team with one striker must rely on. He also isn't clinical in finishing routine opportunities - the lone striker model relies on you finishing your chances because logic dictates you won't get many.

    Maxi - give up, to say Arsenae Wenger is messing up is nonsense. You don't beat the Champions of Portugal 4-0 if your manager is messing up. You don't score 29 goals and concede only 6 if your manager is messing up. Yesterday we were unfortunate to concede a wonder goal and have a legitimate goal disallowed by a bungling lino - how is that messing up? More importantly, Sunderlands named squad cost considerably more than Arsenals, so again how exactly did Arsene Wenger "mess up"?

    And whilst Denilson is not quite a Flamini yet he's 5 years younger, and more importantly wants to play for Arsenal rather than sit on a bench in Italy.

    Suggesting Hleb is in anyway more creative than Nasri completely invalidates your opinion and factually incorrect argument anyway. Hleb managed 5 assists and 2 goals in an entire season last year. Hasn't Nasri managed that in 5 games?!]]>

  • http://deleted Dan

    < ![CDATA[Maxi - you sound like some kind of crystal ball staring moron if i'm honest. Think about what your saying, implying Wenger is a bad manager?

    If you look over the past few seasons, he has completely rebuilt Arsenal's squad from top to bottom. Somehow, he has done this spending similar (if not less) amounts of money to mid table clubs ala Sunderland. Then he has placed that club in the top 3 last year, very nearly winning the league.

    Now i don't know the ins and outs of our financial situation, just like you don't either. So there is no point saying he spends a little when he could have a lot. You don't know that, and it doesn't fucking matter what the board say to the media. People lie. You have to forget about it and just get on with it.

    Generally, Wenger is still working miracles. If he left tomorrow, he would leave us with enough talent to do well for another ten years. How many clubs can you say that about.

    Your obviously one of those idiots that believes you can do better than him, and anyone elses specialised job you look at. Stop living in a fucking dream world. There is 4 MASSIVE clubs in this league. They can't all win the premiership every year.

    Tell me, who do you suggest we employ as Wengers successor. And don't come out with another huge clubs manager, because its just unrealistic, they need to want to come to us as well. I think you will find there isn't any coaches better than Wenger to choose from.

    If your an actual Gooner, then your a disloyal prick for wanting him out. Fuck off to Newcastle if you want a new manager every time we lose.]]>

  • Maxi

    Dan let me get this straight. Will it take Wenger years to build a winning team? Think man….. Wenger is becoming a problem.

  • Maxi

    < ![CDATA[Mr Rolf permit me to borrow your blog.

    As much as I love Arsenal, the team is extremely poor. If we can't beat opposition like Hull, Fulham and Sunderland we have no chance. Gallas is a disgrace to the shirt, he shows little desire and too often we are caught out because of his sloppyness. Van Persie is above average at best and mediocre at worst and Adebayor hs failed to show his Drogba-like presence and Henry-like finishing and has been extremely poor. As for our midfield Eboue,Denilson,Song and Walcott are simply not good enough to win the premiership or even challenge for a top 4 place. Walcott is talented but is simply not ready or good enough to consistently play week after week. Samir Nasri also looks distincly average. We will never win anything under Wenger. Wenger is a traitor, he promised to strengthen the squad and yet he has weakened it by selling Flamini, Hleb and Gilberto and replacing them with sub-standard inexperienced average players like Nasri,Bischoff and Ramsey. Arsenal are a fading force like Nottm Forest and Liverpool. They say they will challenge for the title but realistically we need dramatic investment if we are to ever challenge. Yes Wenger has shown himself to be brilliant in the past but now the age of producing and winning with young talent is OVER! Wenger is too stubborn and will not spend and this means that Arsenal will find themselves falling behind the likes of Chelsea, Man Utd and Liverpool but also Aston Villa, Man City and possibly even the likes of Portsmouth! And do u think Fabregas will stick around and wait for this to happen? No he will bugger off like Hleb,Flamini and Cashley did because he is world class and wants to win things. Even if he stays loyal Wenger will probably sell him anyway if he gets a £30-£40m offer as he even admitted Arsenal are a selling club. At best Arsenal are the new Ajax, unleashing footballing gems and playing cintalating world-class best in the world attacking football in a few games a season but the general pattern is for us to be too inefficient to break down the likes of Sunderland and Hull. After the Blackburrn and Bolton games i thought we'd turned the corner in terms of losing or dropping points to defensive poor mediocre opposition and thought we may be able to challenge but quite frankly the likes of Man City and Aston Villa have more chance of challenging than us. Wenger is a legend for his accomplishments but he has lost his touch and his claim that this group are better than the Invincibles is complete dilusion. Quite frankly we need to get a manager that will spend money and inject some much needed investment into a sinking ship. We will nothing this season and to be honest i wouldn't be surprised if we in 5 or 10 years time we have faded like Newcastle did after Robson and find ourselves either in mid-table or fighting relegation. And to be honest, i'm not sure i want to be apart of this sinking ship any longer. People will undoubtedly be angry and call me a traitor for saying this, but I feel so betrayed by a club I love and a manager who i believe to be like a God that it has come to this]]>

  • http://deleted Dan

    < ![CDATA[So your saying that after the Bolton game, you believed that we could challenge and were good enough. 2 weeks, one win, one draw, and one loss later - we are now worse than Aston Villa. You think about that.

    I'm not stupid, i realise we have taken a step back recently and aren't the best in the country at the moment. You can't always be the best man! Clubs go through stages like this. What would be the point in watching the sport if they didn't. The table could be written before a ball was kicked.

    How you can call Nasri average is beyond me. You are making claims about a player you have never seen play (bischoff).

    YOUR calling Wenger a traitor. That is rich. Your clearly a glory hunter if you are deciding that you don't want to be a part of this club anymore. Thats pretty lame.

    I hear Man City have a bit of money, why don't you jump on there boat?]]>

  • Maxi

    < ![CDATA[Dan am only doing this to see if there could be a change in our approach to games.

    It hurts to see Arsenal go down the way they do at the moment. I love the gooners more than any team in this world; am involved now and cant go away but I wont accept seeing the club i cherish so much go down like this.

    I still belief in Wenger however when the chips are down u ve to show ur mental strenghth. wenger hasnt done that these past four years; belief me he hasn't.]]>

  • http://deleted Dan

    < ![CDATA[Obviously we both have want the same thing for The Arsenal, trophies. Wenger goes about things in a unique way. This comes with good and bad.

    Personally I trust him. I think he has earned our trust in the past. It will take more than a stuttering start to the season for me to wish for him booted out.]]>

  • Debs

    Ok Maxi. You sound really bitter and in all honesty your arguments are unfounded. We beat Porto 4 nil and I’m sure you were not moaning then. The real problem I see with us is just the fact that we are not consistent, and the way I see it, we’re only 7 games into the season and we can only get better. I doubt it if we can win the title (premiership), but we’re doing great so far in the champions league. It’s totally pre-mature to start calling for Wenger’s head- if Wenger leaves, I’m sure we’d end up like Sp*rs and I’m sure no one wants to see that! I’d just say we need to be patient, and maybe yes, we do need one or 2 experienced players, but as we always say, ‘Wenger knows best’! Let’s trust him!

  • Maxi

    Debs U could go on …..,how did u take last season.

  • Pingback: There’s a debate going on… « The World of Arsenal

  • LEON

    max sorry every one is entitled to there opinion but i totaly disagree with your comments ,delinson,song ,diaby are top quality,just because they are not house-old names does not mean they are not good enough,if you had ever sean song play you see that is solid player.you are claiming that we need hleb but he scord lees 10 goals in 3 seasons and evon less assists, and when the goaqls dried up last season were was he,no nasri playes alot more direct and is not afraid to put his foot in,delinson is an all ction type player good passing rrange,arsenal strikers are not very consistant

  • sean

    < ![CDATA[Arsenal i am afraid will struggle to finish in the top 4 this season and heres why..

    For the past four seasons we have gone back wards,any fool can see this..You cant go forwards in todays football environment without spending money..We have been living off AW knowledge, and getting away with it for years,but sadly even AW cant transform a bunch of average at best players into champions without spending..AW said last season we will come back next season stronger and fight,thats all very well AW, but since then we've let go Flamini,Hleb,Gilberto,all good seasoned players..We replaced them with a kid from cardiff,and nasri?..Yes we also got a few on free transfers,thats my point, if we wasn't good enough last season with what was a much stronger squad, what chance have we with this cheap weaker one.. We seem to be doing everything on the cheap,as in spending OUR money on the team,but they love taking it from us by god..]]>

  • Dean

    I really had to take exception to the comment I heard on MOTD when the announcer (not sure who it was) referred to Liverpool’s 3-2 victory over City as “one of the greatest comebacks in Premier league history”. I mean, come on, was the comeback really THAT incredible, I get the feeling the announcer is a Pool fan. Full credit on the fight back to Pool, impressive stuff, so no disrespect to their deserved victory, but you almost felt there was inevitability about the whole affair after the red card (which is a compliment to Pool). The facts are Pool scored their first in the 56th minute and played the last 25 minutes with an extra attacker. Compare this to last year when Arsenal came back from a two goal deficit to beat Bolton 3-2 after having Diaby sent off in the 31st minute, and Arsenal didn’t even get their first til the 62nd minute. Not to mention that it kept Arsenal in the title race (albeit fruitlessly in the end), coming when morale was down on the back of 4 draws (including the infamous Eduardo Birmingham game), and a loss to Chelsea where Sagna got injured as well. Now that is what I call a great comeback.

  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog kierandelaney.net/blog

    Three words – Kanu/Chelski/Hat-trick

  • Debs

    Max I took last season in stride cos if at the beginning of the season we’d been offered 3rd place finish and all, what with ‘doom and gloom’ predicted for us, we’d have taken it, thank you very much. But obviously when the season started and we were flying, we ended up being disappointed, owing partly to injuries, but I didn’t for once blame Wenger, and I’m not about to start now. I just hope we can exceed everybody’s expectations this time around, and win one thing at least!

  • Debs

    And I agree with Dean! That Bolton match was far more impressive than Liverpool’s, although I was really impressed with them!

  • http://deleted Dan

    Thats right Debs. People are pretty quick to forget. You can be underdogs one month, but given good form you are transformed into the favourites. If the form doesn’t last, your branded a failure, although you were never expected to reach those heights.

  • devday

    Definitely, without a doubt, that comeback, 2-0 down, 10 men, away from home, at the Reebok and miraculously come back 3-2 – and Kanu, Hatrick, Chelsea, what a come back… Does anyone remember the 5-3 against Middlesborough at Highbury – we were 3-1 down at half time and what a comeback. I’ll never forget that game!

  • http://arsespeak.wordpress.com jamesgillesp

    < ![CDATA[yeah that was a great game, I posted a video on it a few months ago - you can look at it here:

    http://arsespeak.wordpress.com/2008/09/17/kanu-loves-wenger-watch-my-favourite-kanu-goals-video-post/

    Maxi seems to be a bit OTT if you ask me, lets see what the international break holds for our players and maybe we will come back better.

    We are still ahead of Man Utd on points - its too early to be out of the challenge yet!]]>

  • Steve

    < ![CDATA[Maxi, you and anyone else who thinks Wenger should go are insane.

    Arsenal are a self sustaining business unlike Chelsea, Newcastle etc. This means that any money we spend this year we will not have to spend next year. And that if we'd spent silly money buying players like Bent, Pavlunchenko, Modric or Bentley then we would not have the war chest (if £50m counts as a war chest these days) that allows Wenger to take risks signing young players like Vela, Bendtner, Denilson, Fabregas, Sagna, Adebayor etc.

    Every time Wenger unearths an amazing player from the darker corners of europe then he improves the future of the club both in financial and footballing terms. There will be a time when people look back at the crazy amounts of money managers have spent and wonder how anyone thought it could last. I think Wenger makes far more rational judgements of players values than any other manager in the league.

    If you think that we can spend stupid amounts of money on players and last as an independant club with any sort of soul then look at the lessons we learn from clubs like Leeds, Newcastle and Chelsea.

    Yes we need one or two more experienced players and maybe a bit of grit in midfield. I'm sure Wenger has a plan, and I'm sure in the long term its better than anything Scolari, Lippi, Koelman, Hiddunk (or anyone else you care to name) could come up with.]]>