Arsene spoke on his gamble or lack of ability to take more of a gamble:
“It was difficult because we had no strikers on the bench. Arshavin was dead after 60 minutes and we only had Vela on the bench. We took Song off and switched Nasri and we finished with Van Persie, Vela, Bendtner and Eboue in a purely offensive role. We still didn’t score and I couldn’t see there was much more of a gamble to take. I’m frustrated that the guys don’t get rewarded because this team really wants to do well. I can’t fault the spirit and I believe we have to keep that as a strength and the rest will come.”
Indeed, Arsene, we are all frustrated, but a refreshing post match overview from Arsene. His honesty helps us figure out why he made the changes he did and his attempt and want to try and win the game. With Arshavin only joining recently and having hardly had any match practice. With the preseason just starting at the beginning of January, Arshavin needs games to get him fit and with him not being legible for the Roma game, he’ll have a week to recover from the Sunderland and train until the Fulham game, where I expect him to get another run out.
He acknowledged that the English league is a faster league and he’ll take some time to adapt. The diminutive Russian said:
“I enjoyed my debut in front of so many spectators. But I am disappointed we did not get the result. I am doing everything I can to be as fully fit as soon as possible. I have never played in this League before, so I will have to see [how long it takes]. If I played today in the Russian Premier League, I think I would have been OK, but the English Premier League is a different speed, it is quicker. I think overall it was not so much of a problem for me on the pitch, but Sunderland played very defensive. All of their players stayed in the box. It was very difficult for us. We tried to play for a goal and had chances, but after the game we were not so happy.”
A week later and we should see Andrei in action again. The following week, Eduardo should return and maybe just maybe, we may have some sort of squad for the remainder of the season. There is a little stigma going on in the game at the moment, especially related to Arsenal and how teams play so defensively, that it means we can’t win. But in reality, teams have a right to do what they want, it’s up to us to break them down. Sunderland were not the first team to come with a defensive attitude – actually, they were defensive, but they did move forward swiftly and in the first half they had their fair set of chances. Look at United or Chelsea – most teams when they travel to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge respectively, put 10 behind the ball, but they somehow manage to break the opposition team. So what it comes down to is our own ability to break down the opposition, not the opposition tactics.
Arsene touched on this subject:
“I am not critical of Sunderland. We have to deal with that because that’s what everybody does to us. They gave us a problem. We have to be good enough to deal with it. We want to be even more determined to punish teams who refuse to play, you know. But I feel at the moment we became nervous when we didn’t score early on and you could see that in the way we didn’t take our chances in the second half. I don’t know whether I would do that as manager of Sunderland. I don’t want to interfere in what they should do because they are free to do what they want. It’s down to us to win the game.”
So, I’ve veered completely off topic, I’m supposed to speak about the Roma game… okay… I’ll be back in the morning with a Roma preview…