Arsenal vs Sunderland Preview and My Take on The Porto Refereeing…

Howdie folks! First of all, a massive hi five to Debs for her excellent second post yesterday, Porto 2-1 Arsenal… Not a good welcome back to the Champions League, right?, a brilliant read and an insightful overview of the game. Before I take a look at the Sunderland game tomorrow, I just want to touch on the refereeing decision and the goalkeeping situation we find ourselves in.

As a team, having watched the game again, we weren’t that bad. It’s obvious that teams are targetting Gael Clichy as a weak link and I really hope the boy can regain some form as we know he has before. I have noticed several times that Nasri and Rosicky, when deployed on the left normally go infield or across to a more natural right side, leaving Clichy exposed, whilst Arshavin does a little better, he is often high up field attacking. On the right, most of our team do cover, most of our midfield and forward line are right footers (right footers tend to spend more time on the right hand side of the pitch than others) and Walcott, Nasri, Rosicky do provide cover there. Arsene above all, will be the person who can see this and I hope he is addressing it in the right fashion or it could undo our season.

Looking at the goalkeeping position – in the big games against United and Chelsea, when Almunia has played, he has not done much to warrant any praise and ultimately, most people feel he shouldn’t have conceded the penalty at Old Trafford and of course, doesn’t seem to be effective – as most teams score all their shots on goal. However, looking at the reasoning behind it, it is probably because when the opposition players shoot, it’s normally on a break, and harder to defend. Almunia does normally do the basics right though and he’s got over the nerves thing. The problem with Fabianski is the nerves thing. He’s better than he showed against Porto and it’s a shame that the nerves got the better of him, as he did pull off some great saves.

Looking at the first goal – very poor – very very poor – but these things happen – for every 20 great saves, every keeper has a mistake up their sleeve and for every 20 mistakes, one will be a very embarrassing one. “Nuff said”. The second goal was silly. Sol shouldn’t have touched it, but he did. Fabz shouldn’t have picked it up, but he did. Fabz shouldn’t have turned his back to goal, but he did. Ultimately, whilst a quick free kick is allowed, the referee made a mistake. If the Porto player who scored had taken the ball from an Arsenal player, then fine, go ahead, put the ball down and score. But as soon as the referee touches the ball, a quick free kick cannot be taken. I don’t know how the referee allowed what happened, but he basically bottled out of the decision and it’s severely costed us.

The errors were, as Cesc said, school boy errors (btw, isn’t he becoming more Spanish, accent etc? all the time)… but for the first time in many years, Arsene has launched an verbal on a ref that is very true, but he may find himself under the wrath of UEFA soon… the gaffer said this:

“But he missed a 100 per cent penalty on Rosicky. That is a judgement in a second that I can accept. For me, the back-pass of Sol Campbell was accidental. He has judged it is voluntary. Okay we have a difference there. That I can accept. Technically so many mistakes. His body position. Where he stands is completely wrong at the moment he gives a free-kick. He takes the ball from Lukasz Fabianski. They score. What he does doesn’t make common sense and is against the rules of the referees. When a guy makes so many technical mistakes that are not even linked to judgement, I believe he is not competent.”

Interesting and strong words from the manager, and there will be more on this later I’m sure…

Arsenal vs Sunderland Preview

Onto tomorrow’s game and we’ve lost Diaby (again) from the squad – this time with a knee ligament injury (how on earth do our players get so injured?). We do have a half fit Almunia and a more than half fit Song back in the squad too. But no sign of Gallas, Eduardo or Arshavin. Arsene has commented that Sol is very tired and may not be able to start tomorrow, so we may see Silvestre in his place. Denilson must be dropped, especially if Song does return – Ramsey surely deserves a starting berth ahead of the Brazilian? I’d personally start Walcott as we could do with some pace up front, and I doubt Rosicky can play so many games in a row…

The team could very well look like this:


Sagna – Silvestre – Vermaelen – Clichy

Song – Ramsey

Walcott – Cesc – Nasri


What do you think? What are your line-ups?

I’ll leave you with the bitter sweet news that Van Persie is out still, but back soon… how soon?

“If you ask me is it the beginning of April, I would say categorically no because he has not started any real fitness work yet. Once he starts that, it will take at least six weeks.  Maybe [he will be back] at the end of April if all goes well. If there is no set-back, he should be back before the end of the season but it is very difficult to predict.”

Til tomorrow…

  • Nick

    The game this weekend against SUnderland will be a crucial test, especially considering we’re without so many players. Without Gallas or Sol paired with Vermaelen we’re left with Silvestre who’s been about as solid as Clichy has been. So basically I want to cry.

    Hopefully with Song back in the midfield he can help prevent anything serious through the middle, but I’m extermely worried about the attacks coming down the left side.

    Lets hope the boys up front can finally net a couple goals. I’d really like to see Theo and B52 on the list and help them gain some much needed confidence. Hopefully Cesc can capitalize on an opportunity as well. HE seems like he’s really in a mental funk right now and maybe a goal will help cheer him up.

  • debs

    I noticed the Cesc accent thing as well, Dev! Thought it was only me!

    Despite all the injuries though, that still looks like a pretty strong starting XI, and the offset of losing Diaby, is that we have Bendtner available, in terms of height. I would also like to see Theo start the game, and I don’t see why Ramsey can’t get a game of late. I would definitely prefer Sol instead of Silvestre at the back.

    In a weird way, I kind of feel thet Fabianski’s errors’ll make Almunia feel better about himself, so hopefully he puts in a good shift tomorrow!

    And thanks for the shout-out, Dev- I actually thought the post was below-par!

  • debs

    Also glad Song’s back- gives us much needed solidity at the back!

  • Mehedi

    I don’t see, simply any point of Bendtner.

    He is just a total waste.

    Even if he plays throughout the whole season he is not gonna score more than 5 goals, than whats the point.

    Even Saha is better than him.

  • Mehedi

    It’s high time wenger do something.

  • Mehedi

    If we get out of CL,

    I am scared man

  • Debs

    A striker isn’t only about goals though, Mehedi. Besides, our strikers are hardly prolific, which is down to the way we play. Bendtner’s link-up play is excellent by the way, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts banging the goals in…

  • devday

    @Debs – in Pro Evo, Bendtner just won European player of the year!!!

  • goonerman

    @mehedi- you are entitled to your opinion but to say bendtner is a waste of space is a complete joke LIKE DEBS says a striker is not just about scoring 25 goals a season there are many other advantages to having a big lad like bendter playing upfront! against liverpool we would not of score if bendnter had not got the ball and held it up for other players to arrive! he gives us a huge threat at setpeices and a huge advantage at defending them aswell! and the most important thing he has given us allready like debs said is his link up play he will recieve the ball from the ground or air and he cant be pushed off it like arshavin or eduardo would so before you call im useless maybe you should see what he actually brings to the team!

    The team your predicting devday looks pretty much bang on maybe wenegr will do all that is possible to get sol match for for the game because apart from anything else he adds balance to the defence 3 of the 4 defenders being left footed cant be good!
    and surely ramsey is a certain starter he hasnt played for a while he must be fresh and raring to go and i can always see him assisting, scoring or even just making a great pass! plus hes got physical presence and can get stuck in! basically i just think hes great and wenger should use him as much as possible becuase he just gets better and better the more he plays!

    sounds like i love him lol!!

  • Sam

    Time to get behind the team for the next game.

    I wouldn’t include Fabianski in the line-up, if he had the nerves on Wednesday’s game… Then he must be a wreck these days!

  • Sam

    I take it back! Quote:

    Arsene Wenger has said that he would have no hesitation in selecting Lukasz Fabianski against Sunderland, but will wait for the results of a fitness test to Manuel Almunia before making a final decision.

  • dampatti

    Dev: i think Wenger has gota right to rant – I am really hoping we take the game against sunderland by 4 or 5 and not conceede.

  • Gun_Slinger

    I can’t complain about the way Porto scored their second goal last night. If the shoe was on the other foot I have no doubt many of us Gooners would be laughing.

    When Thierry Henry put the ball into the back of Chelsea’s net with that quick free-kick a few years back we loved it. Well, it’s happened to us now. What goes around comes around.

    Its no good Wenger having a go at the referee. Perhaps, instead of moaning about the ref, Arsene should take a look at some of his players. Maybe he will, in private.

    I can understand the frustration because we should have had a penalty just moments before but we need to accept that the goal was purely down to a fuck-up made by us.

    Why Fabianksi chose to pick the ball up is beyond me. I’m sure the best option is always the safe one. He should have just cleared his lines. It was Sunday morning football stuff really.

    It appears we have a real problem between the sticks. Many feel that Almunia was dropped for this game. His ‘twisted finger’ a way to protect him.

    If he was dropped then I think the timing was all wrong. He did well against Liverpool but if he should have been pulled at any time it should have been after the Manchester United game.

    My opinion is that Wenger can not rely on Almunia and Fabianski at the moment. If that worries me, and many other Gooners, then fuck knows how much it worries our defence.

    It must be horrible playing in a defence and not having faith in the man behind you.

    Goalkeepers earn you points and win you matches over the season. Mannone earned a win at Fulham. Well, harsh it may sound but it seems to me that Almunia and Fabianski cost us more than they earn us over the course of the season.

    I hope Wenger will address this because it may cost him his reputation.

    If I was in Wenger’s shoes I would seriously consider letting Almunia go in the summer.

    In Fabianski’s case I wouldn’t give up on him yet. I’d send him out on a year loan somewhere. A place he would get regular football. It must be difficult to not play regularly and be at your best.

    Although that is not an excuse for his amateurish attempts last night!

    We need a keeper who inspires confidence in his defence. One who the defenders believe in. Surely Wenger can see that now?

  • grahm

    Ok, seriously, this isn’t funny any more

    Guess what? Diaby showed up for today’s practice with a knee injury!

    Yep, that’s right, Diaby played all 90 minutes of last night’s game and showed no real sign of injury but when he came in to practice today he complained of knee pain. Scans revealed that he suffered medial knee ligament damage and he will be out for Sunderland on Saturday. There’s even some hint that this is worse than just Saturday’s match and he could be out for several weeks.

    But that’s not all! A clearly exasperated Arsene Wenger gave an interview on the dot com (free video) and also revealed that Arshavin’s hamstring injury is worse than expected and he’s now expected to miss Sunderland and Stoke, Gallas’ calf injury has pretty much ruled him out for Stoke as well and Eduardo’s very very small, slight, minuscule, hamstring injury is going to keep him out of Saturday as well.

    The good news is that Almunia is 50:50 and there’s an 80% chance of Song on Saturday.

    Arsene claims to have looked at why Arsenal have picked up so many injuries this season and couldn’t find a reason. I have maintained since van Persie’s injury that there isn’t just one reason but rather a combination of four things: the size of the team, their age, their foreign-ness, and Arsenal’s style of play. It seems I might need to add a fifth, their post match fitness and training regimens.

  • JAT

    I don’t know what the rules say precisely but I did feel at the time that once the ref touched the ball then the quick freekick cannot go ahead. Especially as he effectively took the ball off Fabianski and handed to the Porto player to take it quickly. It is like he was handing them a goal on a plate, literally. Aren’t ref’s supposed to be impartial? To make that more obvious, he blocked any access Campbell had to getting back. Madness.

    Bottom line is I didn’t rate them that highly overall. If they can only score goals like the ones they did (they didn’t score any ‘normal’ goals) then with our quality of football, and having home advantage, I believe we will win the tie outright in 90 mins, and that’s even if Porto score too. We’re better than them and they have been totally useless on previous visits to the Emirates.

    This season is killing me.

  • zizou

    i think if alumnia is 50:50,fabianski should be given another chance…goalkeepers tend to make mistakes,we must be knowing it more than any other team!.. and i would like to see nasri playing in the central role alongside song and vela employed on the left…i hope rosicky starts as he is beginning to show his true self…walcott can be brought in after 1 hour substituting rosicky…clichy has to lift his game,that too very soon…what a player he has been for us,am so sad to him playing after coming back from that back injury…hopefully,the sunderland match will be the turning point for him…and i must admit that am not a big fan of bendtner..he has yet to convince me that he deserve a starting place for ARSENAL..I hope he will…and if sol can’t play,it will be a concern…

  • bayo

    eboue—-sagna—–vermalen—–clichy cesc—song——denilson/nasri walcot—bent—-rosicky

  • Mehedi

    Does anyone have a feeling that, arsene is going for the EPL

  • Arsefan101

    @zizou – i agree – fabz should be given another chance – he is a decent keeper – he did put together some awesome saves.

    @jat – porto were definitely a match for us – on wednes, they had Clichy all over the shop and had about 10 shots. we can beat them, but only if we don’t make silly mistakes and only if we play well go forward and score a few

  • Arsefan101

    Sagna – Campbell – Vermaelen – Clichy
    Song – Denilson
    Eboue – Cesc – Nasri

  • http://worldofarsenal Josiah

    how good would it be if we beat sunderland 5-0
    bendtner hatrick
    walcott 1
    cesc 1

    the mood would change right away.

  • http://worldofarsenal Josiah

    oh and with fabianski in goal

  • http://worldofarsenal Josiah

    My line up

    Sagna – Campbell/silvestre – Vermaelen – Clichy
    Song – Ramsey
    Eboue/Walcott – Cesc – Nasri

  • bade the gooner

    You know mate, it’s almost not about favourite line-up, its more about fit players ….
    Really this game could be a good chance to play unusual line-up
    Clichy must sit out to think about his disasteriuos displays lately. The same as to Rosicky & Nasri. For Denilson. Well. He is joggong in the middle of the park like it was some easy going training that is killing me!!! He has the ability, you could see when he does tackle it can be usefull somtimes. He is not that retarded, but his attitude makes him a amature boy rather than a mature player.


    come on. Time for payback. We should crush the black cats with 3-4 goals margin. Time for the front line to deliver …

  • Debs

    Arsenal team v Sunderland: Almunia, Eboue, Silvestre, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Ramsey, Fabregas, Nasri, Walcott, Bendtner

  • Sam

    75′; Everton 2 – ManIOU 1
    Another favor from Everton! Can lightning strike twice?!
    Starting to love Everton!!!

  • Sam

    90′: 3-1.
    Thank you Everton!

  • Adeniyi

    Everton 2 ManU 1.. Interesting.. What a league

  • Adeniyi

    Everton 3 ManU 1.. Interesting.. What a league

  • Sam

    FT: 3-1. We have a chance to reach within 2 points of ManIOU!
    This is an opportunity we can’t pss by.
    C’mon Gunners!

  • JDD

    allow it why are silvestre and walcott starting? walcott isnt looking great at he moment and i dont rate silvestre at all.wheres campbell?happy to see eboue in the strarting 11 but i would have rathered him to have been further forward with sagna rb. but i know wenger knows what hes doing.still confident of a victory maybe 2-1 or 3-1

  • Kuka

    I love this league. For some reason, even when we perform badly, othe clubs lift us up. Cammon Wolves…..

  • Kuka

    Any stream showing the game?

  • Sam

    Good start, Theo looks sharp.

  • Pete

    1-0 Bendtner scores for Gunners :)

  • Sam

    1-0 B52!
    Much appreciated!

  • Sam

    Our defending remains shit!
    Danger averted for now.

  • Shawn

    no good enough.

  • Pete

    2-0 Cesc scores a penalty.

  • Pete

    Full time. 2-0 Gunners. 😀

  • goonerman

    i do remeber some muppet coming on here and saying bendtner is a useless player! he may be no superstar but he still got the decisive first goal! hope that will give him confidence to score a few more! also theo looked pretty dangerous through the game so maybe he will find some form as well!! good win it was never going to be easy they are fighting for their lives!!

  • Mehedi

    That muppet would be me,

    And I say it again ” Bendthner is useless ”

    Even I could have scored that goal

    If you you wanna praise someone praise Eboue

    And i didn’t see Theo doing anything else than running into opponent

  • Pissed off

    Goonerman I understand your opinion on Theo and Bendtner but be patient till we scale the stoke hurdle before you start the praises.

    The game: for me the defending was nervy especially due to Silvestre ( He has very slow reflexes), then again it seemed we were all rushing to get a second goal and was clueless a times. But credit to them though.

    We still do need players like Diaby, Arshavin, Gallas and Eduardo for the stoke them.

  • Sam

    This was indeed a good win, 3 points & a clean sheet, coupled with ManU loss.
    I still feel we don’t deserve to win EPL, but 2nd is feasible now. I really think 2nd is an improvement on our expectations & the last 5 seasons.

    Eboue, Theo & B52 were the outstanding players today. Good to see them gettong it on again.

  • goonerman

    the thing is you couldnt of scored that goal becuase you dont play for arsenal! and yer eboue was very good and he did set up the goal but there was an improvent in theo and bendtner did score thats a fact! and trust me im not getting ahead of myself a game at stoke is one of the hardest fixtures we have in the season and to beat them would be a huge confidence booster! but stoke is another level to sunderland. and i know we look fragile when we defend but the team was trying to get extra goals to secure the game! i still think the team deserves some praise some win becuase most people are just as easger to slate the team when we loose!!

  • Jeffo

    A good win today from the commentary i listened to we battered them but a wins a win and 3 points gained on taggarts crowd.

    On the goal keeper front see below, we are a top four club but how many of you think alumunia would make it in the top four keepers in the league, and this is only England, what about the rest of the world, our keeper situation is poor and needs sorting.

    I personnaly feel their are at least 9/10 keepers on this list better than ours, i never thought i’d miss old Jens or Daves dodgy barnet but i really do, they both commanded which our presentr incumbents dont.

    van de sar

  • vj

    guys dont down theo too much we finally got to see that blistering pace of his, still final ball worries though,but he has just come back from a long lay off, we need to give him time. Nasri is a great example, a great game for him and his touch is coming back like last season, as for B52,well he is also coming back from injury, but then again guys like arsene said hes only 21 and in my opinion 3rd or fourth striker for us, after van persie, eduardo, and arshavin, and walcott is there as well. Look at the other 4th strikers in big 4. Man u have welbeck(shit), chelsea have(i dont know they dont really have one after sturridge), liverpool have only torres and ngog, so dont knock him down too much. Hopefully arshavin and eduardo back,so things are looking up, we need a point from every other game and a good goal difference to win the league

  • Kuka

    @Jeffo :- That is an awesome list you have up there, unfortunately there is nothing that can be done. The better we get behind Almunia, Fabianski and Manone, the better it is for us. Trust me, all the keepers you have listed above were crap at some point or are fading away…There is no natural keeper. That is a role you mature into….

    …I watched Van Der sar in goal today against Everton and he looked pretty basic –

  • Kuka

    MY POINT: – I love this team and for me, any man who turns on the red and white shirt is my hero. So for now until we get new players, the ones we have remain my HEROES.

  • Kuka

    In addition, what makes a good goalkeeper is the DEFENSE. Other than Given who carries City on his shoulders all those shot-stoppers depend on the Defense.

    ….2003-2004 – Unbeaten season – It was kolo, Sol and Cole at their best that made Lehman look great.

  • Kuka

    On a separate note, am watching the Portsmouth Vs Stoke Game and you have to love the Pompey fans. They are just unbelievable…Despite being 2-1 down and going down literally, they are singing and urging their players on. Not to mention those with their shirts off…as they sing…..

  • bayo

    TO JEFO some people are never designed to see anything good in a person.Almunia is not perfect we all know but he has been playin with a twisted finger since the united match and he did not make one mistake today yet u still come out to complain at least compliment him for today and u v never bought a keeper before so its so easy for u to bring names,FOOTBALL AND TRANSFERS PLAYED ON UR KEYBOARD iS SO EASY.GIVEN conceeded a terible goal against stoke worst than almunia,the almighty cech was poor at the beginning of the season.yet no one sees that.ALL the list of keepers u wrote above v never made a mistake in their career and we always see other peoples field as greener.Walcot played better today than before so if he is fit he keeps becoming better.

  • bayo


  • Nick

    Great win for the Gunners. We needed the win and we got it. Coupled with a Man U. loss 3-1 to Everton (Who’s playing fantastic right now) we are poised to take over second.

    I didn’t get a chance to see the game so it was interesting reading some of the opinions in here on players performances. The most important thing for me, whether it was a tap in or a screamer from 20 yds out is the Bendtner scored. Hopefully this will open the floodgates for B52.

    So our defense was terrible again? How bad was Silvestre and Clichy?

    I’m impressed we kept the clean sheet.

  • Pissed off

    Good game.

  • Jeffo

    @Kuka and bayo, fellas i dont want to be a downer and i dont disagree with what your saying my point is that i want i keeper who fills me with confidence, everybody makes mistakes and i appreciate that. i think mannone is our best bet for the future but i want a keeper now who will be our number 1 and i stand by my point that their are 10 keepers better than ours in the list.

    I love this club but i’m a welsh man living in london and between the gunners and the welsh rugby team i seriously doubt my ability to keep running this gamit of emotion every week.

  • Kuka

    @Jeffo – All we are saying is that, the better you get behind the team, the easier it will be for you. That way you will not have to “this gamit of emotion every week”. So I stand by my point too. Rally behind the team, because there is no transfer window between now and May, – so sorry, but you and I are stuck by Almunia, Fabianski and Manone.

  • bayo

    to JEFO even if u want a new keeper at least that wont happen until summer so just support the keepers we have cus thats the best we can do now.I understand wat u are saying cus am not a fan of almunia at all but that cant be changed until summer

  • syah

    why are some arsenal fans so negative about the players? so judgmental when it comes to players not performing. i think the keepers job is the hardest on the pitch. yet when a goal is conceded these ‘fans’ put them down like they are the worst beings on earth. but then again to each his own. this is just my opinion on the comments made about players adjudged of under performing.

    anyways i am quite glad b52 is back in the team. a striker who scores would always be appreciated in the team. even tho he is not my favourite. i have a feeling arsenal would win the league.

    in arsenal and arsene i trust.