It was a captain’s performance on the night as Dutch striker and Arsenal talisman Robin van Persie single handedly carried the gunners to victory after two superb goals. The gunners made it tough on the night having many chances to kill the match, but still finding themselves 1-1 with only eight minutes to play. A moment of brilliance secured all three points as Van Persie struck a beautiful free kick to sink Sunderland hearts late in the tie.
After the international break, it was pivotal that the gunners got their season back on track after a disappointing loss to North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. The lads came out well and dominated possession and created many chances in the match, but failed to capitalise on them as a superb Sebastian Larsson free-kick looked to earn the Black Cats a point.
Unfortunately for gunners fans young Jenkinson looked very much lost on defence and will have to improve if he wants to fill the boots of the much missed Bacary Sagna. On a positive note the young Finnish international did well on attack, getting into dangerous areas up the flank and putting in some good crosses, but there is no doubt that he will need to improve on his primary job of defence. It will be a tough ask for him once we come up against good opposition and he is called to defend, which he was required to do little of in this match.
Another aspect I want to touch on is the performance of experienced head Tomas Rosicky. In the absence of regular starter Aaron Ramsey after suffering a minor hamstring strain, the Czech was in menacing form. A number of great passes and surging runs produced an exceptional performance. Surely Ramsey will be sweating over his starting spot after having a run of dismal performances, the latest of which was against Spurs.
Overall it was a dominant performance by the gunners, who only have to blame themselves for making it a hard fought victory in the end. We look forward to the Champions League now with French giants Marseille next up for Arsenal. Hopefully the victory has instilled confidence in the squad for what looks to be a hard upcoming fixture.
on Robin van Persie’s contribution…
Well, he scored two goals. I think you have to analyse the game a little bit to see how important he is. The first goal was a good display of the team and the second chance he made the difference just because of his skill, which was exceptional.
on the game…
We started well for the first 25 minutes and then when they equalised you could see that we were wobbling a bit with confidence. At half time the team regrouped and then the second half was all us. I have seen a few games over the weekend and I must say that of all the teams away from home Sunderland were 100 per cent committed, played with six midfielders and four defenders and fought for every inch on the pitch. I did not see many teams doing that yesterday so I believe that they deserve a lot of credit. They made life difficult for us.
on free-kick opportunities…
We didn’t make enough of our free-kicks, that’s an area that we can improve. If you consider the number of free-kicks we had today in interesting zones and the corners we had in offensive positions I feel we have to make more of our set-pieces.
on growing confidence…
We have now won five home games on the trot. If we can put another two or three results together it will help confidence because you can feel that the attitude and spirit of the team is great. Even at half time we had a good response. The motivation is there and the quality too so we should eventually get there.
Jenkinson Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Walcott Van Persie (c) Gervinho
Wojciech Szczesny | 6.5: Unusually it was a very mixed bag for the young Pole. Made a freakish save to deny Lee Cattermole who was virtually on the line, but also had a brain explosion when he dashed out to the right flank in the 26th minute and was well short of securing the ball.
Carl Jenkinson | 5.5: Struggled defensively with positioning and urgency at times, especially when he the ball was taken right under his feet by Larsson in a dangerous position. Did well on the flank, getting forward and delivering good crosses but will certainly look to improve on defence.
PerMertesacker | 6.5: Was a solid performance from the German who is showing his excellence in positioning more than makes up for his lack of pace. Made very good interceptions and was strong in the air. Did the business required from a centre-back without being overly exceptional.
Laurent Koscielny | 6.0: Was solid in the centre-back position, but sometimes I feel he has defensive lapses at times that undoes his good work. Was good on the ball when given the opportunity to pass or surge forward.
Kieran Gibbs | 6.0: Gibbs had a good performance without being overly exceptional as he was given a quiet afternoon by the absence of Elmohamody on attack. Was substituted on 51 minutes for Santos after presumably sustaining an injury.
Alex Song | 6.5: Did his primary job well, screening the back four with great efficiency and being his usual physical self breaking up the Sunderland attack. But was a little sloppy in possession giving the ball away when trying to distribute. Uncharacteristic of the Cameroon midfielder.
Mikel Arteta | 5.5: Was a little disappointing from the experienced Spaniard. Arsenal were dominant in midfield, yet he failed to assert much dominance on attack and played more of a passive distributing role.
Tomas Rosicky | 7.5: Behind Van Persie he was second best Arsenal player in the match. Made surging runs and incisive passes that got Arsenal into dangerous positions. Is definitely helping his own cause in staking a claim on Ramsey’s starting spot
Theo Walcott | 5.0: The Englishman was way to quiet for how much ball we had in the match. Richardson had his number all afternoon knowing that Theo would just try beat him with pace and defended accordingly. Oxlade-Chamberlain is surely close to coming into contention after exceptional recent performances.
Gervinho | 6.0: Had a excellent first half after assisting Van Persie for his first and beat O’ Shea in early in the match only to shoot high and looked generally menacing. Although for some reason completely faded after the break and was rightly substituted for Arshavin in the 68th minute.
Robin van Persie | 9.5: Superb. The reason we won the game. Excellent first goal and sublime free kick to complete a brace and secure all three points for the gunners. Was extremely unlucky with a brilliant chip that hit the inside of the post and tested the goalkeeper on numerous occasions. An excellent captain’s performance
- Notable Substitutions
Andre Santos | 7.0: Played exceptionally well. Was great defensively nipping in and timing challenges brilliantly and also comfortable going forward, like every Brazilian is.
Andrei Arshavin | 7.0: Excellent play from Russian and deserved his goal after a weaving run through the Sunderland defence. Was threatening for his entire cameo appearance.